When thinking about art and all the different things that can be done as art, one thing always sticks in my mind as being one of the most crucial elements, and that is the idea of continuity.
By continuity I mean how long the piece of art, in whatever form, will last for.
Some art can last for centuries and some can last only for seconds but the majority of art will only last a certain amount of time.
Everything in this world has a certain amount of time before it disappears and is forgotten forever and art is certainly included in this.
If someone was to write a story, how long would that story last before it was forgotten?
Most stories are heard or read and then thought about strongly for a small amount of time afterwards and then as the time passes the story becomes something that is only thought about in hazy, ambiguous thoughts, never in the same strong way that it was first thought about; that is, unless it is heard again.
This is the same with any type of art; film, drama, paintings, sculpture, photography, poetry, radio plays; all are heard or seen and then slowly pass off into the realm of forgotten things.
To any artist, the idea of one of their pieces of art, something they have worked long and hard over, becoming something that people have only a vague, and sometimes incorrect, recollection about; this would be something that many artists could sit and worry repeatedly about.
And so how would an artist make sure of a lasting connection of memory with their audience?
The answer is that they cannot insure this at all.
So what is an artist to do about this problem?
The only solution seems to be that the artist admits that this problem is a real one and learns that they can do nothing about it.
This, in the long run, mostly takes care of the worrying element of the problem.
But what if an artist, knowing full well that their art will perhaps not last the course of their lifetime and fine with the concept, still wishes to produce art?
They would be welcome to do so, after all, the problem is only a concept, not a censor.
After thinking about it for a while, my idea would be to make their life an art form.
By this, I don’t mean the concept of living your art; I mean the actual concept of being your art.
Most artists live their art.
They inform their art and their art informs them.
Their life, personality and ideas come through their art and their art shows it back to them and others.
This is just one step away from being their art.
For in being the art, the artist creates a book, a photo, a play, whatever, using just themselves.
The concept of art dying away either before or after their death becomes irrelevant as the art could only last until the day of their death anyway.
By being the art, I don’t mean body theatre where people body-pop naked and pull string from their nostrils, although this is an art form in itself.
What is a ‘business’ personality but lots of small parts to play which changes with each circumstance?
What is a joke or an anecdote but a story freshly created and replenished anew each time, hand smoothed and sculptured by each teller’s fingers and tongue?
What are a fancy top and a night out but a display of creativity and moving art?
The idea that an artist can keep their tools with them wherever they go and create there at the time of conception is an exciting one indeed.
What could be more stimulating and exciting than the warm rush of inspiration filling you as freshly crafted art flows from your mouth and hands into the eyes and ears of expectant enthusiasts?
And any mistakes wouldn’t matter as they would be a part of the art as well.
How many days, nights, months and years do artists spend rubbing out the mistakes and searching around for new ones?
The search for perfection is nothing compared to the passion of fervent art as it flows; mistakes not damming it up as it comes.
I suppose what I am wanting to explain is the idea that art should be just ‘there’.
There right in front of you, or around the corner.
And it is, but people don’t always see it.
Art is in galleries, in bookshops, theatres and cinemas, they think.
Art is never there in the street.
But it is.
Art as a concept needs someone to point a finger to it and say ‘This is art’.
To look for art and to see it around the corner or right there takes an artist.
Artists and critics point the finger and say ‘This is art’.
And so I guess what I’m trying to say is that art isn’t only what the artists point their finger at.
Or, that we should stop looking at someone else’s finger and use our own artist fingers to point.
With the being of art, we also lose the concept of art as a separate thing from the everyday; we lose the idea of good art as being only for certain people.
We then move closer to the original conditions from which art was created (storytelling, rough paintings, ritual and adornment) without losing any of the ‘specialness’ which makes art wonderful.
Art shouldn’t be something that someone has to make a special effort to go and see; it should be everywhere.
How many searches will artists go on in order to find ‘the next big thing’ that will outdo ‘the last big thing’?
They make art a pointless quest, one that you can only go on if you have the seriousness and the greed for beating the others to the new outrage.
This doesn’t mean that I am against the ‘progression’ of art; far from it.
It’s just that there is good and bad progress.
Art and people haven’t really changed that much over the years anyway; only the conception of them has.
Art is playful and irreverent and it should be allowed to be as such.
A lot of people will say that by reducing art to something seen every day, that this will negate art.
But I say that by seeking to immortalise and freeze art, we lose its basic instincts: that is to entertain, as a means of expression, to aid and create understanding and misunderstanding.
Only by allowing art and artists to see their mortality can we free them from the ideology and hope that they and their expression can live forever.
Only by allowing yourself to be and not live art can you express oneself truly and without bowing to the limits of ‘perfection’.
When a piece of art reaches what critics and other artists deem to be perfection, it is boxed up and called a ‘classic’.
The title classic is certainly suitable to a lot of great art, but the problem with classics is that they have now been closed off from the rest of the world.
They are no longer part of life, they are godly and representative.
And I am sure that a lot of the artists whose work has been called classic would sit and frown and think about all those flaws and duff words or strokes and wonder how anyone could ever decide that the piece is a classic.
I am not saying that all classic art should be chucked out and nothing put in its place.
Art should be constantly taken out, not matter how old, and remodelled, changed but still keeping the initial ‘specialness’ of the original.
Shakespeare’s plays are still performed today as they were back when he wrote them but only as a kind of nostalgia, not as fresh art.
This happens a lot with classics.
And an art form doesn’t have to be remodelled and pushed back into the same sort of shape.
Why couldn’t a painting be remodelled as a play?
Or a novel remodelled as a sculpture?
Or a dress as a story?
As long as the initial instincts of art remain and as long as the piece still keeps some of the feeling of the original.
We have come across the main problem of art and that is the staticness of much of it.
Once a novel or film or painting or whatever is completed, that is the artist act finished.
The creative part has been completed, all that is left is the finished product and the all the admiring that needs to be done.
I don’t mean that we should ignore classic works of art and treat them as inferior; the classic works of art are good to look back on.
But I imagine that a lot of artists never thought that their work would endure as long as it would.
So, the original works are certainly to be regarded but not regarded as classic because they have endured, but classic because of their feeling, emotion and depth.
Then, instead of admiring and leaving it at that, new work should be created.
Not with the same title or aims, but with a new title as a new piece of art almost in reaction to the original.
And so by being art in the present, new art is constantly being created in this present moment with no thought and worry as to the future of the art.
By being art we also remember the past art, but we do not revere it and hold up our hands to it; we use it in the present to create a piece of art that will last only the present and a very small piece of the future.
I love the idea of storytelling as an art.
Much like a visiting storyteller who visits schools or a storyteller around a fire or in a pub.
The only oral storytelling that seems to happen in modern Western society seems to be jokes, anecdotes or storytelling to children.
So maybe the area of children’s storytelling could be an area for the artist who wishes to be art to look at.
Jokes and anecdotes are always very good areas for the artist as well.
The street or room is bare of art.
Someone comes and performs a play, tells a story, shows us themselves as the art.
Improvisation: an act of the complete present and leading to an act of creation.
The act of creating flows through you, it enriches you and those who can see the complete feeling and skill required as you make something from nothing.
Then the person is gone, as is the act of artistic creation, leaving the place bare of art until the next act.
The artist act doesn’t remain in the place any longer; it remains only in the minds of the viewer.
The artist’s act has finished and they have no worry that their art will be forgotten or lost because they know that it is already lost and that memory always fades.
They can be their art and so it is never far away, locked up and only for certain people.
They can bring it out and show it whenever they wish and they have no need to worry that it will be dropped or misplaced or bought or sold.
Their art is always with them and it changes as they change.