During our last Skype conversation, Nicolas asked me to think about tools, based on the subject of my first blog post. A few days later he sent me a link to the extraordinary exhibition The Tool At Hand, and whilst reading the catalogue (the pdf of which can be downloaded online), I realised that Nicolas’ timing in sending me this material was eerily prescient.
The first essay in this catalogue is by David Gates whose first sentence is ‘In this essay I propose that we think of language as a tool’. This simple sentence made me realise something that I had been thinking about for a while, that language is extremely important to me as a part of my making process but there is a continual tension present between the objects I make and the words I use to describe them.
I think most artists dread the moment when they are required to provide an artist’s statement. Whether they feel comfortable with using words or not, it is easy to fall into the trap of glib ‘art-speak’ and self-parody. In this spirit, I amused myself by generating an artist’s statement at 500letters and by compiling a quick ‘art bingo’ list of frequently-used terms:
collaborative, research, practice, material, culture, craft, discourse, installation, concept-driven, multi-disciplinary, methodology, archetypal, translation, processes, framing, contextualising, engagement, genres, connections, components, focus, collaboration, diverse, innovation, trans-disciplinary, value, impact, original, innovative, underpinned, question, socially, engaged, core, facilitating, creative, thinking, space, enable, engage, process, social, performative, iteratively, relationship, intra-activity, modes, alternate, dissemination, practitioner, materiality, encounters, development, exploration, practice-based, ecology, design, implementation, integration, conversation, piece, deconstruct, formality, transubstantiation, aesthetic, association, analogies, experimentation, composition, multilayered, coincidental, consciousness, associations, parallels
On the back of this I made a connection between an artist’s statement and the term ‘statement jewellery’, a term generally used when talking about fashion. It is also a term that has the potential to be used in a parodying manner. I began to think about what a piece of artist’s statement jewellery would look like. I downloaded some free clip-art from the internet and mocked up some rough ideas.
Then I thought about actually making some statement pieces in three-dimensions. This is currently a work in process and I hope I can follow through the project to an end, regardless of outcome. I am prone to leaving ideas at an unfinished state, as I am easily bored and get seduced by new shiny ideas which inevitably come along.
One positive outcome that has already made itself apparent in my pursuit of this train of thought is a realisation that a precise, purposeful and sometimes humorous use of language is fundamental to my making. In the future I want to make much more effective use of, what David Gates describes in his essay as “our most locally peculiar, yet portable tool — language”.