January is a month that even the best of us usually just have to get through with gritted teeth, but for the life of a creative, the early months of the year can be particularly challenging. With the end of the financial year looming on the horizon along with that flat feeling after the Christmas break, us artists are often stuck in a quagmire of administrative duties rather than being free to focus on our artistic work. Cold studios and cold spreadsheets can often hinder the creative life.
When you are having difficulties with making work while also dealing with the drudgery of business then the problems for artistic creativity can become acute. The ‘block’ that can come to any artist is a potentially maddening experience. There is a feeling of not hitting the spot or achieving what you are setting out to do. This feeling is a real and a worrying concern for an artist. The advice from those who have been through this on a regular basis is to work through it, which is essentially right. But when a ‘block’is a combination of problems, it can be both daunting and hard to pin down a direction to go in, or an order in which to tackle the issues.
When you face a wall of issues where do you ‘hit it’ to break through?
My field of art, complexity science, is a vast arena. The difficulty of producing art that ‘is’ something rather than being just about something or dealing with an issue or topic comes squarely into focus. The practice is about creating an artwork which also works as complexity, in the way it does in real life and in scientific experiments and mathematical models and simulations.In a sense this allows me to forgo most of the subjectivity that defines other art as a matter of personal taste. One has to focus on what is real as this is now also part of what makes it art, as well as considering the aesthetic aspects that coalesce into something more than the sum of its parts.
So as the first weeks of January are bit hard in both the business and creative aspects, it really hurt when I felt a slowing down of ‘conceptual’ progression. I was essentially trudging through, and trudging doesn’t always bring out great artworks or ideas.
I began to look at past works that I hoped would bring me to a different ‘thought space’ to see which of the previous directions could be revisited. Nothing was setting me on fire. Although, I know I will find value with them on another day, it wasn’t that day,today. I wanted to produce something which would ‘do’ and ‘be’ a lot of things, a work with the well-rounded stamp of authority. I am always looking for a work I know is truthful not only to ‘complexity’ but to me, to the way I am feeling and the way I am going. This month I was looking for a work that could break the deadlock and place me as an artist back at the center of why I go looking for ideas in the first place.
The study of complexity can be understood in terms of a system that evolves by making thousands of decisions that often work in a binary way. Do I go left or right?Is this ‘1’ or ‘0’, ‘off’ or ‘on’. There is also the notion of ‘emergence’ and feedback where patterns build over time. Then there are the sticking points. The bits where the rules don’t apply and the times when the decision points take longer than usual to emerge… That’s when I made my decision. To ‘ go straight through the middle’ and make my mark.
Here's my latest creation 'Going Straight Through the Middle', my first pentaptych.