Wanted to post something significant for my 300th entry.
I’ve been focused very intently on designing sculptures for public placement for the past several years, and have been lucky enough to have had some success in doing so. I love the feeling of making something that will belong to “the people” when we’re done (projects like these are the product of the input of many, not just me). My method has been to exploit the latest technologies in computer aided design to create sculptural form. Exploring the forms possible given the constraints involved – weather, durability, vandalism, community needs, budget – has been challenging and rewarding, plus it’s given me the opportunity to establish some really rich and fun relationships with a diverse group of people.
The past few months have found me floundering, casting about for something that was missing. Part of the angst stemmed from abundance – I’ve been fortunate enough to have pretty much any need for software tools to make my art quickly met. But this freedom has come at a cost: fluency. To beggar an analogy, my toolshed is so full I don’t have time or inclination to go about developing a real mastery of any of the tools it holds. Thus my artwork has become more about playing with tools and less about the inherent quality of the works themselves. I firmly believe that constraints are what drives creativity, and the abundance of tools has led to a dearth of genuine creativity on my part. Letting the tools speak for me instead of mastering one of them and speaking through that expertise. Also, the genre of software involved, 3d CAD, is among the most abstruse and difficult to learn, and each package seems to cover only a partial set of my needs. This necessitates learning and using multiple packages – surely an all-consuming endeavor. Followers of this blog may recall my switching to Windows from Mac in order to use Solidworks, a truly complex and powerful program, in an attempt to finally reduce my toolset to one. It turns out that Solidworks is indeed brilliant for designing and manufacturing just about anything – except my art. It’s just too encumbered with an engineering mindset to allow for the freedom to explore and experiment that is necessary for me to create. Plus, the demands of doing my own IT on the Windows platform, doing CAD management and documentation, learning Solidworks, AND finding time be creative was proving an impossible feat. So, what to do?
This post was the key. I’d used an oblique strategy: retrace your steps; go back to the beginning, recall why you started down your current path in the first place. That stratagem led me back to my earliest days of exploring artmaking on the computer and creating with vectors. I loved the way you could take a sketch and breathe life into it, refine it, reuse it at will – without regard for scale, with detail as deep or as concise as you wished. Yet it was still driven by that which was inside your mind’s eye, not by formulae and algorithms. So I jumped in with both feet, re-familiarizing myself with Adobe Illustrator and looking internally for what I want to make. My goal is not to replace collaborating with others to design public art, but to fuel my creativity while bringing a new paradigm into play within those design collaborations. So far, I’m loving it. Here are some things I’ve come up with: