Monthly Archives: February 2013

Who do I create work for and how does it influence my creative process?

Stance editors Jan and Tyler posed this question at a recent Stance meeting and this is my base written answer:

One tendency I find dismaying is artists who focus more on creating work for their own fulfillment than on their connection with their audience. Focus on fulfillment is well and good if your work’s ultimate audience is private, without cost. However, once I charge an audience admission to witness my work, I consider it a personal responsibility to communicate with value to your audience.

Value is not selling out. It is an exchange of meaningful substance.

Any work you present to your audience is subject to their scrutiny. You ask of them some degree of sacrifice (their money, time and attention), in return sacrificing the leverage of control over perception of your work. The moment you begin presenting for a witness, judgment of your work is passed to your witnesses, your audience.

No matter how personal my motivations for making work, I ultimately create work for the general public, often people I don’t know and whose mindsets I possible don’t understand… but to whom I must communicate the work I have cultivated for them to see.

While most artists give little thought in process to the perception of their audience, it is an important consideration as I craft ideas into a cohesive piece. I am ultimately communicating, and if I’m not understood in a meaningful way my effort to communicate is for naught.

Another quick note… on our local culture’s aversion to real criticism

We’re afraid to openly, honestly constructively criticize each other because we created a culture where people are culturally taught to attack and ostracize anyone who takes significant or fundamental issue with their work, e.g. long stretches are boring, it lacks identity, it’s not compelling, whether as a whole or in significant parts… real problems that impact whether or not the public is willing to pay $10-20 or more and invest 1-3 hours of their limited free time to see it.

We need to recalibrate our culture so it’s acceptable to be constructively blunt. Tact is an excuse not to tell the truth out of a belief that the truth would upset someone who made the mistake of considering their art sacred. Most of who speaks up about what in a piece needs work does so because they care about the performer, care about the work and want you to succeed… not because they hate you and want to cut you down. If they wanted to cut you down or wanted you to fail they would just ignore your work (and there are plenty of people I know in the scene who don’t like me and handle it by doing just that).

You should not be verbally/textually attacked by people or given the cold shoulder at events and shows by entire groups of friends because you spoke up about not liking a particular show or performer’s work or said something someone doesn’t agree with. Our culture needs repair.

Believe it or not, this is one of many themes in line with a piece I just began developing, on culture and poker and the parallels between both.

On Interruptions in Conversation

I consider interruptions a problem both in formal conversations and personal conversations. I’d like to create a sociopersonal framework that prevents them, while recognizing cases where interruptions might be productive (for instance, a speaker who goes on too long and doesn’t let others talk).

– When someone begins to speak, no one is to interrupt them at all for the first 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, an incidental interruption is acceptable. A speaker may continue to talk as long as they wish while recognizing they are only guaranteed no interruptions for the first 30 seconds.
– Call out any interruptions. Any decisions regarding punitive action are up to the discretion of the individual or group.
– This promotes the following general guideline: As a speaker, make your point and any needed caveats as succinctly as possible.
– If you need to make a longer point, preface your point by saying so, and the listener(s) may grant you a longer no-interruption period at their discretion.

I realize this may be play-pretend-esque idealism to many, but I feel an active effort towards curbing interruptions is worth exploring. People’s input are frequently marginalized through inconsiderate interruptions of others in a group discussion (sometimes intentionally, but typically it’s just rude and shows a lack of consideration).

Also, don’t fucking interrupt me when I’m making a point. I often listen a lot and talk little, so if I’ve got something to say, it’s for good reason. Listen.