I started this before the review, and I will be finishing after the panel feedback. I currently describe to people asking, that I know exactly what I am doing, I just don’t know what I am doing. The second ‘what’ encompasses a bit of ‘why’ too.
I suppose it is time to start producing some things. This is for two reasons,
1. One can only talk about something so much before actually putting it into practice and seeing if theory and imagination are realised in a practical sense.
2. it might help the panel understand a bit better, what it is I am doing or envisioning
3. I want to see how far I can take someone else’s story. When does my inclusion (as an author) overstep a boundary that starts to affect the meaning or consequences negatively? Well-meaning or not, are there stories and words that I should not try to use?
4. the act of creation will feedback into my thoughts on the raison d’etre of this project.
I have started reaching out to many people asking for writings from, in, and about Los Angeles. I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to contact actual writers and solicit original creations for this. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, I cannot afford to pay for these stories, and I feel it insulting asking strangers for things for free; secondly, in order to invite anyone to contribute, I have to describe the project. Once the project is understood, it changes the writing. The point is somewhat still to capture the quotidian thoughts and experiences of Angelenos, not words tailored to a specific and known outcome; finally, there is something more intriguing to me within the words of untrained writings. Having said that, I did get some work from two songwriters, but they were existing words about Los Angeles.
Maps hold a fascination to me as they are used to tell us where we are or going, but only physically. However, (old) maps do say something about a society at a certain time. They are also frequently seen as objective, factual, and empirical although maps are in fact very much fictional, biased representations of space. They are perhaps a good example of the danger in the assumption of non-bias in the creation of visual matter. I like them as a base for both reasons.
However, I do harbour a suspicion that this is a somewhat obvious choice, that I have seen it before, much like printing on old newspapers – that doesn’t mean that I cannot do it, or shouldn’t, but it probably shouldn’t be the first and the last stop.
The left behinds
In staying with the theme of the everyday, seldom seen, and unremarkable, it would seem to me that what we discard says something about who we are as individuals and as a culture or society. What we deem valueless might not tell us what is considered valuable, but it tells us something nonetheless. The detritus of our everyday has deep meaning of our values, if not what we consider valuable.
It might also be a significant identifier of place and should change in quality and quantity depending on the neighbourhood.
I should probably state that these are digital mock-ups and that I would see any final pieces by more analogue, screen-printed or otherwise applied text to the actual object/substrate. This seems especially important with the garbage collage – scanned, layered and then printed removes too much immediacy and impact from any potential piece. But even with the maps or any other piece, the permanent application of text or image to an existing piece has a violence to it, actual destruction for creation, rather than the digital variation, where one can easily imagine the restoration of any originals.
Finally, for this week, the one I knew would probably never end up as a final piece (for this project). The reasons are perhaps too obvious, a fairly blunt instrument to see the limits, perhaps, however, I was also interested in the role of authorship, I sent it to four people – and I was very careful to check as best I could that it would not upset them. It isn’t an upsetting image per se, but the associated history could be traumatic and is being referenced by me, for selfish reasons.
They are vintage police shooting targets, and I actually did buy two. There is something so fundamentally wrong about them in their bright colours and disco vibe. The image seems to need to be amended, corrected, or edited.
But it was the following one that I felt was the most thoughtful, and from the person that perhaps knows me the least:
‘Unsafe snark. Too close to true life to be too much of a socio-political commentary. Because you sent it, I am then pushed to question the artist-author. This one feels like my approval/impression would change depending on the author. I am stuck balancing first amendment free speech with don’t make this worse for black people who will receive the brunt of pushback for such an entitled and provocative POV. I.e., Black man emoting — “say what you gotta say brotha! Speak!” Non black-man — this falls in the category of counsel millennial civil rights activists are so ‘articulately’ sharing… “Don’t make it worse for an already targeted class by expressing your non-black privilege overlaid on a black man’s body.” ‘— Jamila Fairley
One thing that concerned me were the pronouns. If I use someone else’s words, then in what way do ‘we’ and ‘they’ change meaning?