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rant #6

Life is in fact precarious

We project our affections onto a lock of hair, a used bus ticket, to a piece of newspaper or the memory of a photograph. We entrust a sense of permanence to precarious objects, as if we do not want to admit that life is in fact precarious.

(Fluxbooks, Fluxus Artist Books from the Luigi Bonotto Collection, 36)

I heard writer and media personality Waleed Aly propose that a most significant feature of the current global dilemma was our general loss of control at every level, from the individual, to the state and humankind.

The fantastic structures of our civilization, seemingly solid and inevitable, are exposed for what they are; temporary, at best. It is not just our social structures but every corner of our living; our psychological, emotional and physical spaces as they currently stand when scrutinised all reveal constructs based on an expectation of consistency, that the structural aspects of that space are as permanent as possible, that their condition is anything but illusory.

An admission of this level of vulnerability is not something many of us wish to own. Structures of gain, of protection allow much speculative activity distancing us from primitive fears of bare survival, the diminished power of these defining structures can remind us of the essential fragility of existence, and consequently in certain spheres, reveal a plump arrogance that resides in an ivory tower of human achievement.

The sudden vanishing causes personal and societal loss and pain, but nature is ‘not personal’ it acts how it needs to act. It seems to me that nature needs to find a way of continuing to ‘balance’ it’s constitutive forces, not to maintain a consistent equilibrium, but to redress too-much-of-this with more-of-that, meaning a dynamic ongoing movement.

So all is brought into question, in a fresh context of what is basic to survival and what is necessary in terms of projection beyond today.

For me, entwined with food, shelter, love and companionship, what is crucial for survival is the exercising of creativity. Not just as it exists in conventional artistic terms but as it plays out within everyday decisions and behaviour, in comprehending its existence in all thought and action. Every moment is creative in the emergence of what manifests to my consciousness. It is equally destructive, in that what existed then is replaced by what comes now, but this notion of destruction is inseparable from creation, it is the flipside of the creative-destructive holism.

Perhaps it can be most clearly illustrated by focusing on how an action is taken rather than what the action is. For example; how I wash the dishes, how I cook, how I sweep, how I sit and stand. These actions can be mechanical in that I repeat the habituated movement with little need to be ‘present’ to what is taking place during the time taken to perform them, or, they can be lively because I am moving with the force required to undertake. In being present to the force of moving-toward I know that there is no inevitability in what comes next, that each step, each tick of the clock is unique in its manifestation and in the potential of how an action occurs, how I come to inhabit, to come to live in this particular way, in this particular living opportunity.

Some imagination is required to move in this direction. Some imagination is required to act with and to think with creativity. There will always be constraints under which to act, but for me, some degree of separation is usually required from obligation, that is the external or internal pressure to be or do, in order to approach this space of living. A degree of intent and effort are necessary in pushing through habitualised, or ‘preoccupied’ behaviours, to allow for occupying space and time in such a way that the everyday, ordinary actions can become the means by which reimagining can take place, a reawakening to the wonder of life, an opportunity for analogy, for process, for intuitive insight, for serendipitous occurrences, for therapeutic action, for personal rebalancing, etc. All this is and more is accessible in everyday actions, in domestic actions.

In general, this way of acting will be available because one discovers these experiences are desirous or necessary, or else they occur spontaneously unforeseen.

To what extent can I re-imagine what living is ? What restrains me from re-imagining ?

What is on offer through re-imagining, is whatever is on offer worth the risk of attempting to discover ? Can I imagine living without the level of security and control to which I have become accustomed ?

As an artist, I work towards how I can live creatively through everyday action/thinking and how I can live imaginatively, every day. Not only in/through/with sense perceptions but through the mind and body as a whole.

Control and the security that seems implicit within it, not only plays out in everyday actions but also in structural concepts, individual and social architectures of control. The way a musical composition is structured speaks of control, speaks of the composer’s intent, design, a political ordering.

Over many years, I have heard the term “structure” (in relation to art and music) used as a means by which to critique and assess a work’s value and in many stylistically clear genres this makes sense. I can evaluate in relation to the parameters that constitute the form. But in the creative spaces in which I move that notion of structure ceases to be valuable and becomes a negating and even vexatious concept.

It is not that structure is irrelevant but the concept of it.

To my mind, structure is everywhere. It is impossible to be without structure. My body has structure. The air has structure. Water has structure, water’s form is fluid and changeable.

What is fascinating to me is to observe, to listen, to witness, structure’s emergence as the creative work unfolds. The shifting web of relations of the materials, their interactive behaviours apparently stabilising long enough for me to perceive a forming. The structure, brought through the energy conveyed, the feelings, the materiality and all the other explicable and inexplicable forces, is a conglomeration an evolving relational set.

So, I do not need to be concerned about ‘making’ structure. I concern myself with quality of relations, of vibrational tensions, of momentums and so forth to the extent that I wish to assist the congregated elements to be. To draw out what is virtually there. This may be only understood retrospectively.

To free structure from a conceptualisation that has it subservient to control. To envisage, to imagine structure as living, a living truth as I am living, beyond right and wrong, good and bad. However I live is the truth of it, regardless of my judgments. However I live is how and what the structure is. Yet it takes great mental, perceptual clarity to see that, to hear that, to feel that. In knowing that, in knowing that the structures are never static and always in the process of becoming, always in negotiation, always requiring participation and collaboration for their manifestation, wonder is brought to the perceiver, astonishment at the relational weaves, the house of card structures, fine filaments of co-dependence and brute, human-dwarfing power of unimaginable scale.

The architecture of skin, it’s open weave belying solidity, the structures that hold me together do not need my constructs for legitimacy.

The architectures of feeling and of perception bring endless creative structures to the imagination.

The architecture of intuition is a frontierland.

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