Saturday, September 7, 2013

artistic monkeys

We artists, we're like monkeys with great memory.

Monkeys, trapped in a room, knowing not what where doing, or why. Just doing is enough. Given enough time, we're bound to eventually do something interesting, right? If one monkey was given a typewriter and an infinite amount of time, the monkey would at some point have written a book. Any book, and all books, by accident. 

We are a little like that, because artistry is often about just experimenting with different things, going with your gut, testing things. Often, the result is useless, but sometimes, we wind up doing something productive. First we shrug off our initial surprise at actually succeeding in creating something, then we say it was our intent all along, and then we memorize what we did, so we can replicate it.

And that's experience. A good artist is not one that always succeeds in his experiments, or by seeming chance always seems to nail what hes doing, always fruitful. A good artist is one that has failed a lot, but also seem success. Nay, a good artist is he who learned from all this, made it good experience, experience he can now utilize and purposedly replicate. A good artist has a repertoire of learned skills.

And that is sometimes the secret to artistry. Doing random things, and keeping the results in mind, whatever they may be. Artistic wisdom.

I've done my fair share of fucking around, artistically. I left most of my blog-directed art back at my place, and this sequence of pictures is just something that I pulled from my camera dump, that happened to be on my USB-drive. I made it into a gif, and the next gif I'll make will be even better, because I learned things while fooling around taking pictures of wooden chairs on my balcony.

"The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint; the greats were great, because they'd paint alot."
Even though it pains me as a truly lazy guy to admit, Macklemore nails it in "Ten Thousand Hours". It's work. It's about building a foundation of artistic insight, brick by brick. And that's life, not just artistic workmanship. In everything we do, we start from the ground, and work ourselves upward. The bricks aren't always so inspired, either. Anything you'll learn in school is just another piece in the big puzzle that is the foundation of your understanding of life, yourself, and ultimately the world.


  1. Yeah, being a musician I can relate to that too. There have been countless times when I've just sat by my piano, messing around on it randomly with no result, only to suddenly pop an idea that is easily turned into a composition. It just takes time, and dedication.

    About that monkey thing though... It would have to write a number of books larger than anything you could imagine in order to actually create good books, if it's just typing randomly on a typewriter. There would of course already be tons of incomplete versions, and versions with weird errors of that same book already.

    You know the people that go through what several authors have sent in and decide which ones to publish?

    Imagine what a hell it would be trying to find the good books in the unimaginably large pile of shit written by that monkey :'D!

    1. Yeah, well, the thing with the monkey is, it's an infinite number of books. Among the monkeys writing is this blog entry, it contains your blog entries, it contains this comment, and this comment if it had one typo.

      It's like pi. It has everything, because it goes on forever. The possibility of the monkey matching a thousand letter word on a qwerty lower-case keyboard is mindbogglingly small, 1/27^1000. We've done the maths in school, right. But as the monkey has an infinite amount of attempts to get it right, sooner or later, it's going to happen. Twice. Three times! The monkey will have written an infinite amount of stories, an infinite amount of times.

  2. Oh, and having seen that gif on my blogger feed more than 10 separate times by now has made me curious. What is it o.O? My intelligence is far too lacking to figure out what the gif represents...

    1. The Gif carries significant metaphoric meaning, in looking too close at the details, you often miss out on the bigger implications. Well, at least that's what I think it is now.

      In fact, it's just a series of photographs featuring the armrest of an old piece of furniture on my balcony. It's funny how the whole picture doesn't even have to be intelligible in order to be interesting. I've always felt abstract art has somehow been inferior to regular, motif based art, but some of my newer ventures in art have sort of opened my eyes to the world behind the abstracts. They're very personal, and I think that can be beautiful. Then again, I remain sceptical. If it's not meant to be understood, it's pointless to the rest of the world, isn't it? Is it somehow wonderful in its need of being explained? I think not.

    2. That's cool ;)

      I get what you mean, with the abstract art. I'm not an artist in the same way you are, but I still appreciate different kinds of art forms. I think that a large point, especially with abstract art that is markedly more difficult to analyze symbolically, is just that; the piece of art is different in every viewers eye, all the interpretations are unique and personal. I doubt the point is to find any message from the artist, or to understand the intent behind the creation. Of course this can also be true for any other art form. Despite all this, I agree with you in many cases.
      All symbolic set aside however, sometimes it's just fun to look at "pretty pictures", or whatever.

      I tend to prefer anything between really nicely painted drawings (or art in general), "smart art", as well as illusions. Can you call them art? In many cases I think you can. I like how they add a new element of tricking the brain into seeing new things in something, at first, seemingly plain.

      Of course, don't forget art that features humor :'D


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