Benjamin WightSurfaces (2016)

There is something profoundly satisfying at this.

It’s partly the magenta dominant color scheme, partly the way there’s such a skillful balance between the secondary yellows which slightly outweighs the tertiary cyans–but the secondary and tertiary colors appear to balance, holding the figure together.

Also, there’s the illusion of a sort of sculptural dimensionality–it’s obviously a play on the reduction of form, movement and context to a series of layered and interconnected polygons, but to do it in such a way that recalls something tactile like origami is an interesting left turn.

The rest of the series is worth spending some time with. Wight renders a figure in the same pose from multiple angles with alternating color schemes–and not all of it is origami-esque. One looks like Sully from Monster’s Inc. dressed up like a storm tracker weather map, another: nanobotic renderings of neural pathways.

I wonder sometimes if there’s a difference in the way appreciators of art perceive various works vs how art makers process work.

Like I dig the above image. It’s something I’d see cold and be like: I really want to check out the rest of this guy’s stuff. But as an art maker (I hope), I see this and it resonates with my personal conceptual interrogations–I’m fascinated by texture, for example and given that I work primarily in an ostensibly 2D medium, I’m super intrigued by the way other 2D artists convey depth and dimensionality.

A lot of people much smarter than me have commented on how more often than not the urge to create arises in response to engaging with work made by others. I’m thinking here of that priceless Ira Glass quote about talent:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I
wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it
because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple
years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good,
it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you
into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work
disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years
of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want
it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or
you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most
important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a
deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by
going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your
work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out
how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s
normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

But I think it’s too easy to lose sight of the fact that our creative processes contribute new ways of seeing to us, new ways of connecting with work that we might otherwise overlook.

It’s like we have this toolbox and the more work we make and the more we keep pushing passed obstacles and growing and evolving our process, the more tools we have in our toolbox. So whereas we may look at something once and dismiss it, ten years later we return to it and see it through completely different eyes. Or, to stick with the clumsy metaphor–we now have a number of tools in our tool box that allow us to engage with the work.

And it occurs to me that I guess I just don’t understand how you can truly engage with art and not feel compelled to make your own? (I think there’s something in that notion that applies to the mission of this blog insofar as I feel very strongly that there isn’t as hard and fast a boundary between pornography and art as most folks would like to insist… (But I’m not sure I can tease it out at the moment…)

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