I'm not sure if I'm about to write about process, writing, studio practice, or being out of practice; but right now I have a jumble of thoughts I have to get out in order to get to the really good stuff.
So I have this little piece of art by Troy Gua. It's one of my favourite pieces that I've acquired this year. It's a little framed canvas dot painted blue, titled Held, and I adore it because it embodies a quantum hybrid of probability.
A quantum hybrid of probability is a multitude of outcomes all happening at once until an observation takes place, incurring the inevitable decisive action. In this case, a piece lives on the wall, waiting. It has been made, but not bought. And yet here it lives on my wall, bought. One can imagine the artist's breath being held in the hopes that the potential buyer will follow through, that it will leave the wall of the white cube to live on the wall of a collector's home. It's slightly sentimental. Or slightly wistful. It is not the definitive red dot of a certain sale; the blue dot suggests anxiety. Things could go either way but for now, things are leaning in its favour. You're not going to know, until you know. So you wait.
As an artist, one lives in such a quantum cloud. While in the studio, the outcome of your efforts is both certain and uncertain. The making of a show has no guarantee of any kind of success, but it holds a lot of hope - the work we make will either leave our hands or it will come home with us to live in a box in the attic. It will either be seen, or it won't. Despite all this uncertainty, there must be some reason we make things, since we're all so busy making things with no discernible or quantifiable outcome. Perhaps we're all just working out some complicated ritual or scientific experiment, or exorcising demons. Many of us are certainly a vain species, building the work for the sake of the work and little else. I am one of these. By the time it's done and on the wall waiting, we're already moving on to the next thing, in hot pursuit of the next idea. The work is its own reward.
And this is where I am living, this cloud of uncertainty, feeling my way along old familiar walls in the dark. I've been building, and drawing, and shifting focus. My studio process has been as exhilarating as it has been frustrating, regaining ground in more analytical efforts, moving away from more narrative ones. Like many artists, I'm stripping away unneccessary material to get as close to the truth of the work as possible; at worst I've become a dry minimalist and at best, a relentless and obsessive editor which is in a way, what the work is about more than anything. I make work about the work, and I write about work the same way, spinning proverbial wool into yarn. The process is incomplete without documentation, record keeping, and tracking the work of others alongside my own. It's difficult to be objective, as I am attracted to very specific things.
But hopefully, embedded in this cloud of probability exists the potential to regain the words I feel I've lost. I'm being sickeningly sincere, right now. But we are beholden to the processes we thrive on, and writing is a critical part of everything, for me. Without it, I live in danger of atrophy. It's been a while since I've really worked out artistic problems in words. Things could go either way but for now, things are leaning in my favour. I'm not going to know, until I know. So I will write, rather than wait.