“I try to be intimate with everything.”
Orozco coos these words to us in his documentary entitled, Loss and Desire. That’s his advice to us—notice everything. Interact with everything. Truly see everything.
Art is the answer. As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believes, art is an escape into the eternal . It takes us out of the moment and into one which spans the course of time. Modern artists have taken this belief a step further and have made their lives into art—expanding their interaction and engagement with life. They seek to live in the moment by synthesizing life and art and in the process. By materially making an object that defines a period or moment in their life—artists are able to produce a more bearable and more beautiful form of life in art.
But, modern artists are now faced with the fact that our reality is irrevocably intertwined with technology. To be an artist now means to be a master of almost every technological platforms—video, sculpture, product manipulation, sensory distortion, performance, writing, film, sampling , photography, painting. It seems you cannot stay relevant unless you dabble in them all.
In the current Luther W. Brady Art Gallery exhibition, Decenter NY/DC, it is hard to find an artist who sticks to one medium. Their names are normally followed by a slew of professional descriptors [visual artist, essayist, poet, dancer, sculptor, filmmaker, etc.]. For example, Canadian artist Douglas Coupland does everything from painting to writing novels to furniture design with SwitzerCultCreative. New York based artist Andrew Kuo does everything from avid Tumblr and Instagram blogging to making humorous charts for the New York Times. New media artist Cory Arcangel tries his hand in everything from performance to video game manipulation.
The Economist describes this new movement as artists living in a “post-studio” environment. The world is their studio and the art flows easily from their surroundings. Experiences become art and an artists’ life inevitably flows through them. For example, Decenter artist N.Dash creates her works while immersed in the world. Her pieces titled Commuter were formed and folded while she was on public transit. Instead of reading a book or glaring at her iPhone—she makes her ride interactive and provides a concrete representation of the monotony and tediousness of riding public transportation. She coats the repetitive patterns and folds of the paper in grimy graphite—representing the dirt so present in public transport [and life].
So, what we should we glean from all of this? These multimedia artists bring to our attention that art is in constant collaboration with life. They lead us towards a more emotional and experiential undercurrent of life—a more observational perspective. These artists and their works can show us how to live in the present and how to make sense of our rapid and ever-changing world.