The Not-The-Word-For-Today is ‘Artplay’.
I was going to make it the word for the day when I thought I’d made it up. I wanted it to describe the process leading up to today’s work. Turns out there are a couple galleries using that name, a digital media company, and a Japanese computer game producer using it. Well, hell.
Here’s what I need, by definition – make up a word for me:
<New Word>: The process of playfully experimenting with art techniques to discover new styles or aesthetics, often associated with, but not limited to, visual arts.
Every artist in every media does this. But what the heck fire do we call it?
My curiosity was spurred by a discussion with a fellow photo artist at Sunday’s Capital Arts reception, who said to me and to which I agreed, “There’s a point where you just have to stop”. And I agree with it because, yeah, there’s a point in which you’ve taken a work as far as it’s going to go and anything else either accomplishes nothing or messes it up. However, another approach to this is illustrated in today’s work, in which the artist, after reaching the end of one work, simply goes back to its beginning and starts over again.
Today’s work began with a nicely picturesque photographic capture from the roof of The Last Hotel in downtown St. Louis. In the first version, I felt reluctant to significantly alter that capture and applied only minor filtering. In the second, I threw out the minor filtering and applied more heavy-handed techniques and saturations, which made me happy for a while, until I decided I didn’t like the resulting hues. In the third, I again returned to the beginning, this time using a different approach to filtering and saturations that took the work in a darker, more surreal and less abstract direction. Still wasn’t getting to what I saw in my head. Finally I had a revelation as to what I was trying to achieve and created this fourth version, which I think finally gets at the aesthetics and emotions I was looking for. Notice that this final version creates a sunny, optimistic vision, whereas the early versions took on a darker path. I’m sure I could find a psychoanalyst to come up with a diagnosis, but perhaps we should just leave that alone.
It strikes me that, perhaps, this kind of play is something most associated with computer-based art, like photo art, due to the need to save work, yet wipe it out and go back to original imagery. Photo art always has a base to go back to – brush artists, or even digital artists, go back to a blank canvas. That said, I’m going to credit this process with da Vinci, who never accepted the idea that a point in which the artist must stop exists, who spent years futzing with his art, who worked on the Mona Lisa until the day he died. In many ways, da Vinci was the world’s first photo artist; but that’s a subject for another day …
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.