Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How much of my/your work is a reference of a reference? How can you develop your work without constantly using your influences as a crutch? How do you know when it's "really yours" ? Does it matter whether it is?

I'm really disturbed by a conversation I just had. And a bit discouraged. Maybe it's not a bad thing.

How honest do you want your friends/peers to be when critiquing your work? Or does it not matter to you? Would you tell someone their work is boring/redundant?


Xenia said...

I've had an interesting conversation about art and art criticism with Gwen today, and really I feel like as an artist you work in a certain trope which may or may not be accessible to others; this level (or 'knowledge of contemporary art")of accessibility therefore determines the percieved authenticity of your work and obliterates it at the same time; how would someone unaware of your references percieve your work is equally as important as soeone 'in the know'.


I think thatits important to remove yourself from the personal connection of reference and focus on the subject matter and the point you're trying to make, in connection to all that i feel that it is criticism that contributes to a lot of this mess as our relationship with criticis and critics is flawed. All criticism should be constructive, even if negative. Its true that it should never come accross as insulting or condescending (though I've dabbled) because that is personal opinion and it is not criticism. If you seek fair critique, seek it from people who understand your process and want to really help you get somewhere, sometimes friends are right for that and sometimes they are not - I guess that is why we have professors and neutral parties. The problem with critiquing or being critiqued by friends is that your personal relationship comes into play where even the ost constructive critique can appear hostile.

When i ask most people if they liked my work and why i expect a 'Yes' because what I really am asking is 'are we pals' in a way. I can't help this predisposition but I a also grateful for these "Yes"s because that's what friends are for.....


vrtrooper said...

Telling someone their work is boring and redundant is a pretty boring and redundant thing to say.

Saying WHY it's boring or redundant is a whole other story.

I believe a lot of artists have different ideas of what art should accomplish. Some feel it should say something radical, some say art should say nothing at all. But whatever the case may be, we are human... and we live in a world where we must relate to and be influenced by... everything.
In order to function...
in order to survive.

References and influences can be seen as a negative.. because some people COPY... which is different.
But to reference and to be influenced is a fundamental HUMAN act... it's how we learn and how we grow.

Anyone who condemns you for doing either is a hypocrite.

Marla said...

Most art has a reference, or a point of collective conscious from which the artists starts to build their work. I guess if you are -really- worried, you may want to sit down and have a talk with yourself about what it is you want to say, and how you think -you- can best say it, in your own voice.

i would never tell a friend their work was boring or redundant. But if they specifically asked me for criticism, I would talk to them about how they realise their ideas, their processes, their motivations, maybe assist them by helping them to question the way they make art, and how their ideas goes from their head to a completed work - are they missing an important step?

Sometimes when people are influenced by work it is because they have this same idea or feeling inside them, but lack the unique language to give it a form. Sometimes people need to realise they need to go back to the start, and develop their language, before they try to explain the whole world, otherwise you may end up using someone else's...

As we live in a very visual culture in the modern world, more and more people feel they have an authority on visual languages and thematic and styles used.. when really all they know is the end work, not the whole development of that work.

Maybe a way to be knowledgeable and informed is to be learned on your contemporaries, and work out the way your language is different, and be able to speak to that with conviction...?

Scott Chandler said...

I don't think my work references any one artist anymore, but it references a specific and prominent tradition of photography, and I sometimes worry I'm bound by that tradition. Part of me needs that framework and I feel it's a good relationship, it fits well with how my brain works and it's appropriate for my ideas. But I do worry it's a crutch and that I just do it because it's easy and habitual.

The rare occasion where I throw a wrench in the gears isn't satisfying in the way I expect it to be, so I tend to fall back on my standard way of working. I'm still working it out, but I've more or less decided not to force change. I'm sure my work will evolve, maybe significantly or maybe subtly, whatever the outcome it will be something that results from making work one project at a time, not trying to shape a diverse career for the pure sake of variety.

I don't think it's possible to make work that isn't yours. Even if it is based heavily on a reference to another artwork, it's still your basis isn't it? Your work, your interpretation? I don't think it matters. I don't think I've ever heard you mention specific references, I'm sure you have them, but I've always felt your work is wholly yours, it's clearly a product of Yuula. When I see it, It just makes sense that you produced it.

I always appreciate honesty in critique, it's very rare.

ameliaaah said...

I think about the influence thing a lot. It is a problem that dance artists face often because we are so bound by working with other people - going to class in the morning where we spend an hour and a half trying very hard to move like someone else, and then what do we do when it is time to get into the studio and start creating? Our bodies are used to moving like that person and nothing we make is our own.
I find especially when I study with someone frequently I find myself moving like them uncontrollably. The concept of Authentic Movement is a good one and one that I think about a lot.
There are a few artists whose class I take often - because I like them - but lately I've had to stop going to their classes because I get too wrapped up in moving like them that the lines around what is my movement/their movement become blurred. After all, I like their class because the movement feels natural on my body. That must make it authentic on some level.
It's like when people go to England and come back with British Accents. You just absorb it.

As for criticism, I think the line between friend/peer is an important one. Do I want for instance, my sister to tell me if she hated something? My best friend? Probably not, but my dance/art friends...I wouldn't want to hear "I didn't like this", but I would want to hear "this would have been more effective if..."
Then again, I would probably only want to hear that if I had asked someone for their input. That's a hump I should probably get over.

Now to get back to work...

Kim said...

a work becomes great through it's analysis