Disrupted thoughts

During one of the toolbox sessions Anthony pointed out that some of us were trying too hard to make connections between our readings and our own practice.  I know that this is something I am particularly guilty of, I do have a tendency to look closely for parallel lines and thinking and I do try to parcel it all up in neat little boxes.  His suggestion was to just write about anything and everything of interest and that the connections would become clear on their own without having to constantly point them out.

It made me think about a conversation I had with Rose about how teaching our year one English and Academics class has been cutting into the way we are thinking… and the concern that we are stuck thinking at year one level, where we teach them that they DO have to point out all the connections because otherwise we can’t assume that they know! Of course that is different from working at Masters level. I never realised how much what you do everyday really changes your thought processes, not only in obvious ways, but also in the complacency you get in thinking in a certain way. You are what you think (teach?)

My way of thinking is also evident in the work that I do, in many ways it’s about control and chaos.  I realise that part of my way of working is about trying to impose rules, precision, and make sense of things, because I want to be able to pin things down and explain them.  BUT that’s not actually the way my head works.  I actually have quite a chaotic way of thinking that * means that my brain flicks between multiple thoughts or actions.  To illustrate this, see that asterisks back there?  That was where I stopped writing to put my washing on the line.  Yes, mid-sentence, that’s how I roll.  So my thinking is this constant battle between disordered jumping and reining that in, in order to focus.  I can sometimes get my brain to be quiet when I am drawing. (I really want to insert something here about how that relates to why I am interested in memory, but I will let you draw your own conclusions).

I was talking to Erich earlier this week about my work and the critiques and some of the feedback I’d received in order to come up with where to go next in my research.  We didn’t come up with anything, because I am still under the spell of the ‘disruption’ caused by the critiques.  When I had analysed the work that I showed, and told him that the crowd scene was the one that drew the greatest interest and discussion, Erich pointed out that it was the one that I had the least concept behind.  He was right!  This was the work that I made not really sure of what I was doing… I was playing around with using watercolour and pencil and I had chosen a photograph that interested me (mainly because of the composition).  The point is, I didn’t really know what it was about.

I think my problem is that I have allowed my concept to dictate the artwork and the artwork is more successful where this is not the case.  Which doesn’t give me much of a strategy for moving forward, beyond perhaps not having a strategy at all and allowing for instinct rather than neatly researched conceptual thinking?  I’m not sure.  I feel like I had a bit of an epiphany when Anthony told us to just write lots, even unformed thoughts or just things we are interested in. Maybe loosening up my writing/blogging will allow my practice some breathing room?

We talked about art as a disruption in the seminar; I think the seminar was a timely disruption to my way of thinking.


  1. Re: our conversation of being “stuck thinking at year one level”, I was concerned about how constantly pointing out the obvious and repeating yourself many times (as is necessary with second language students), sometimes makes me over-explain my work, not only in an artist statement but also in the work itself, sometimes I am too literal and that leaves the viewer with nothing left to explore.

  2. Hi Justine,

    I think your reflection here on your work is a useful one. The one image that does not have a concept behind it is more open ended in its reading and possibilities and the other drawings were perhaps too closed at the moment to allow for enough expansion for your practice. Maybe as you say it is about following those attractions and facinations, and here I am thinking about those images that you found in the libarary book. Perhaps it is a little bit of a pull between Barthes studium (a general liking) and his punctum (the thing that pricks or wounds me) but this time in relation to images which you know nothing about but are drawn to at on some level.


    1. I think I have been caught up in the idea of everything having to mean something, and lost sight of the fact that it is completely legitimate to make work that that is more experimental or instinctive. The crowd scene was an image that I’d liked and held on to for a long time, and I’m still not sure exactly what it is that draws me in about it. So maybe that not-knowing is an important factor?

  3. Hi Justine, I really like your honest response here, hey it may be worth you looking at a blog I did recently called: To collect: An insight into Richard Serra’s process, of particular interest might be the you tube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUUOHBk5qDM (sorry can’t seem to be able to make a link from here) ,among other interesting things it does talk about Serra’s process and how he was interested in the dialogue that arises while in the process of making work.

    ‘Everything grows out of work (making art), everything comes from that approach’. (Richard Serra)

    Its a rather long clip but well worth the time spent viewing it.

    P.S. I too have had issues of pinning my work down before it has begun ;-/


    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for the link, that was really interesting! Sierra does make some very good points about making art. I was also intrigued by the idea of artist as creators of problems, not just problem solvers. Chuck Close is very interesting too. I had no idea he was ‘face blind’ I find that quite fascinating.


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