Growing New Limbs

Since I last wrote, I’ve been on a little progress detour. I wanted to keep writing through it so that when I look back all the markers are present but demotivation doesn’t typically work like that. In a nutshell, I failed an assessment. It was a hard one to take because it was the first test after having failed the entire semester just two short months ago. It felt like the hole I was in revealed two extra layers of floor that could give out and bury me deeper. A dark state of mind to be in and it took a good few days of resignation and starting to make it homey down there in the pit, before I fought my way back out.

After having watched the whole of the internet, I booked a Crossfit group sesh with the muscled ladies. I knocked myself all the way out bringing up the rear of the amazonian  paced class. The class is structured so that everyone does the same amount of exercises but within their own times. Not sure if this is ok when some people’s arm muscles are not quite ready for 50 push ups after 20min on the rowing machine. After class I spent some time in a toilet cubicle leaning my swirling head against the door while holding back the vomit. It did the trick though, and the regained fighting spirit launched me back into gear and out of the hole.

Last week I had my first meetings with teachers and thank God for the papa bear that is Oscar. This is a teacher who has often had front row seats to the drama of my failings and has trouble hiding his level of investment in the storyline. Upon hearing that I didn’t make the assessment, his brow involuntarily furrowed and a peep of despair escaped his no longer neutral lips. I explained about what I presented in the assessment that didn’t quite communicate and wonder of wonders, he understood the words coming from my mouth. Kicking my own ass at the gym could never have given me what he did in that moment. Affirmation. Guidance. A plan. Now it was my turn to suppress affections and it was all I could do not to get out the grass skirt and offer a bare chested rain dance of gratitude. Teachers don’t seem to realise, but what students need most from them is a little bit of encouragement and some positive reinforcement that your idea is more than chicken scratchings.

*grabs another nutshell* So my previous idea was born out of weeks of genuine inspiration and meticulously distilling of all that into one mother idea, which linked what I believe to be my true strengths with the core functions of Fashion. It was real searching, but within the time constrained semester perhaps too far sought. Perhaps it also wasn’t the smartest approach to present this new idea and new job within the fashion industry for the first time at the assessment. It should have been done in the classes before so that by the check it would be more palatable. Anyhow, what cut me deep was the fact that I based the presentation on my strengths as an artist and to be unceremoniously told, ‘Its shallow’ and ‘well this just proves that you’re not good at that’ was debilitating and led to hopelessness.

Now I have another plan, which I’m also excited about! I’ve gone in a more formulaic direction but one that doesn’t require as much explaining. It still has an element of uniqueness because I’m the only one doing a digital installation. This also means I’m doing a lot of work in new programs such as CLO and After Effects. Its also more in Daniel’s realm of expertise with his degree in Film, so we can collaborate when it comes to the motion graphics stage. I’m so glad to have found something to continue with. Paralysis be gone!

While I was in my dip, Dan suffered many a melancholic monologue. In one of them I compared my struggle to growing new limbs. My inheritance from growing up with a hustling mother, is that I’m not afraid to take risks. To throw myself in the deep end, knowing full well that I might not be sufficiently equipped. In many scenarios my mother became the god, and armed with faith and gumption, made a way where there seemed to be no way. I realise I carry that with me in my personal belief system and its gotten me this far. Now, at level 100, that’s as far as it will take me. Ill equipped or not, here I am – swimming in the same lane as people for whom this pool was always a birthright. With my foot now free from its task of getting me in the door, it now needs to learn the kicking to keep me afloat. Learning new moves, growing new limbs, either way developing ain’t for sissies. But there’s no development if you don’t keep swimming, and that in itself is all we need to be doing.

POA: Prepare Process Book for discussion with teacher. Go to school, make prints. Continue CLO tutorials.





In defense of Sock Sorting

Yesterday I lifted the lid of my pressure cooker brain and let out some steam. I didn’t plan it, but by the end of the day I hadn’t lifted so much as a finger in terms of ‘making it happen’ on my project. I went to an audio visual exhibition with the intention of ‘study’ but ended up having an essential chat with the lovely, hair twirling, coffee making, fellow creative creature at the door. She’d invited me to come visit her there after an impromptu Women’s Day gathering of Pizza and cigars on Dam square the evening before.

The exhibition was kind of lame. I took it as a moment gently signifying that I have exhausted that part of my process – outward research that is, and that it was time to apply what I’ve seen and crystalise my own idea. And in the act of not ‘doing anything’, I feel like the idea had time to cook, unstirred. Some meals need that, the fragrance of which showed up in my dreams last night. Its taking shape in my head, piece by piece. In my dream I was standing in front of the structure of my installation with my mother, explaining the content to be projected onto it. I got only halfway when she started singing and packing it up, with wild protests from me that I hadn’t finished. I woke up so annoyed. I think its because I was going to start bullshitting anyway. The rest of the idea is not there yet. So more cooking required.

Yesterday that meant getting out the house, having chats about someone else’s creative endeavours, having a laugh and un-awkward chat with someone I met at the gallery, being enthused by the addition of a new Dirk supermarket to the neighbourhood (so much friendlier than Albert Hein), and in celebration supporting the bakery section of the place and eating it on the tram home (something that I feel is a habit from the third world more. I rarely see people eating en route here, whereas at home the cracking open of a steamy fish parcel in a crowded train would get you at most a wrinkled nose, but there would be no prohibitionary sign to go with it). I was home at the time of day when the sun hits the bed at just the right angle and absolutely took it as a call for nap time as I escorted my Dirk van Den Broek belly to the natural VIP area. After naps i felt the need to get my shit together but couldn’t bring myself to work on my idea, so I turned my attention to productive procrastination instead. Enter the long ignored pile of mismatched socks! The sense of achievement attained from finally reuniting these star-crossed pairs, was all the purpose I needed for one day. The other useful thing I did was take my bum to yoga first thing that morning. Perhaps that’s what had set the tone for me to slow down. It having been a ritalin free day might also have had something to do with it.

So did I waste my time? Ultimately, no. When I get to the other side of this and am asked about how its done, a golden piece of advice will be to carve out a day just for farts. Especially if you’re a bit of a creative fart yourself. Its needed – a day of attention for the self, outside of achievement. And its not to say that I wasn’t still busy with it in my head, like all the time. It was just in the background as I cranked up the volume of my earphones and silent-discoed the hell out of the private space of my bathroom.

POA: Spend half hour on follow up research online. Refine Answered questions on self made questionnaire. Move on to sketching idea on paper. Digitise Idea and contact people for collaboration. Revisit Planning and seek help for getting back on track if you’re out. Plan in realisation of Concept Check presentation. Go to work at cinema. Wake up on Saturday knowing what to do. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages.

Working it out

‘…so hard to be doing what you really meant for, beauty
Huh, but don’t I make it look easy
Don’t I make it look good?’ – Anderson .Paak, Come Down

Thanks again, Anderson. The luxury of the opportunity to even try is not lost on me. So without putting too much pressure on this isolated moment in time, I’m using the occasion of this second graduation to make a ‘trailer’ for what I’m really meant to be doing. Explaining to others where I’m at in the process is like drawing water from a stone. I feel like it’s all there already, like a lump of clay, waiting for the grafting fingers of the sculptor (me (!) to reveal the form within. Form, which communicates a message. That’s what I’m after, and I think I’m struggling because I’m not clear on the message yet. In order to get to the message I need to find out what is imperative for me. What part of my story do I tell? Perhaps a way to find out, is to first look what the fashion industry needs to hear. And then have the mutual truths elevate each other.

Yesterday I found myself objectively watching a documentary clip on Kanye West called, The Art of Staging. I’m still firmly in the anti-Kanye camp because I don’t suffer fools, but this particular clip was about the artistry and transcendent aspirations of his live performances. I’m finding myself increasingly inspired by set design and the creation of an atmosphere. More than presentation, its Immersion, that’s going to capture the much divided attention of a modern audience. For this I want to include the digital tools I have access to –  like Dan’s 3D camera, my Adobe knowledge, and I’ve started to learn After Effects too. This last one, so that I can animate my fashion illustrations, replacing sewing with digital labour.
What is impressive about Kanye’s achievements and what I believe his talent to be, is his vision, the platform he’s created for himself and imperatively, the creation of an arena for others. There’s a strain of noble intention that manages to pierce through the tightened sphincter of the asshole through which he speaks. When you drown out the fart noises and just focus on that, his ability comes to the fore.
Another smart and definitively modern tactic is the alignment of his vision with like-minded creatives with dynamite expertise, such as set designer Es Devlin, my new found hero. In a talk to university students it becomes clear that she is the visual orchestrator of the psychology behind the evocative stage effects. This acknowledgement of the poetic backstory, and deep thinking behind something, which results in an impactful and resonant experience, is what gives me hope that I can apply what I have to the medium of fashion. It might even be indicative that a voice like mine is ripe for an airing. And that maybe its time that the fashion concept as it stands sheds some of its layers of vacuity, via my alienation at its ego driven nature.

At the same time there is a danger of contradiction where a self righteousness threatens to pervade and defeat the purpose of the exercise. Striking the right tone will be key and ensure that the end expression is joyful and enlightening, not preachy and equally up itself. I’ve therefore done a quick dictionary search to investigate the whereabouts of the fine line.
One way of describing Ego is as follows:

‘The “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.’

To find the flip side of this, I popped ‘ego’ into the Thesaurus and found, Conceit:

‘An excessively favorable opinion of one’s own ability, importance, wit,etc.’ or,
‘A fancy, purely decorative article.’

A fine line indeed. I think creativity needs the ego in order to be critical and come up with something new. If fashion reflects the times, then it has inflated alongside the human ego, which has curdled into conceit, souring the truly innovative function of fashion  and turning it into mass production.

When the consumer changes, so will the demand for superfluous, exploitative systems. So perhaps changing the way we consume, by offering alternatives, which add more depth to people’s experience of fashion, will at the very least awaken people to value different things, and contribute towards veering away from the throwaway habits prevalent in today’s clothing culture.

Perhaps that is the imperative, which shapes the message. And now I have to find a way of creating an analogous, immersive experience, which will serve as a framework for consuming fashion in a new way. Where the focus is more on the Seeing, than the ‘See and Be Seen’

My 2D teacher suggested that I find a big space and start experimenting; that I come to a few conclusions based on my research, assemble ingredients to play with and photograph them.

POA. Look for a space, book it. Seek the counsel of Mijs (studying set design) and Ionie (studied Man and Identity). Assemble materials (unfinished collection, mannequins, lights, etc. Experiment.