Where’s my Mask and Cape?

The greatest thing about running a pseudononymous blog is that when you run into studpidity, you can release a little of your burden by writing about it.

My dumb Me Teech Art butt, on the other hand, has a link right above the blue bar with the Twinkie that answers the question “Who is this guy anyway?”

I used to want to grow up to be just like Sonic Youth.  Not a particular member of Sonic Youth, just an embodiment of a certain approach toward life and art.  Most of us can only imagine what it must feel like to cram drumsticks into your guitar and make noise that actually makes sense…  I’ve been, keenly (I’ll say),  remembering over the past couple of days that a person can not accomplish such a thing, can not really achieve success as an artist, if he/she spends very much time listening to people.  People are sticky.  People play out Intro to Behavioral Psychology scenarios.

Paying the rent, however, more than anything has to do with developing skills for listening to people, then continuing to listen to those people.

So, here’s a lesson from Intro to Critiquing Art, a thing I find need to explain to Studio Art Foundations students:  When a person says something concrete, specific, about making changes to an art work, i.e. “it could use more blue”, “it needs a greater tonal range”, “you really need to incorporate a broader range of sources”, etc., what they are really doing is offering a solution to something that confuses them, an indecisive or undecided middle ground.  In those cases, the exact opposite of their suggestion will almost always work just as well.  I.e., “use less blue”, “limit the tonal range more extremely”, “focus your range of sources”…  The choice is yours and has to do with intention.  The important thing is to understand that the middle ground is bad.  Spare us the pop-Buddhism.  Please have conviction.  Realize that you have confused your audience.  However, their solution only belongs to them.

I had the rare fortune of spending my formative years around a lot of people who weren’t worth listening to.  I learned how to not listen.  I did well in art school.  The most dangerous thing is people who may possibly be moving in good directions.  But, then, maybe it would have been better to have grown up next door to Cornel West.

(BTW, you can thank George Liebert (also here) for the insight into art criticism.  He revealed said insight to me, probably more articulately, when I was his student in a Foundations class, way back when.  He was/is a person worth listening to.)

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