Art I Made in Q4–2021
I built a few things and I had fun bringing interactive art installations to events.
I like building things, but not if they’re pointless. It’s sad when I make an art object and have nowhere to put it, no one to show it to, and nowhere to display it. I used to do this a lot and thought the art somehow still mattered. Now I feel much more that if an art falls in a forest and no one hears it, it doesn’t make a sound I care about.
During this quarter, there weren’t many good opportunities to exhibit complex work, so I made a few things for my home and built some lightweight nonsense I could carry around and use temporarily here and there.
Second Coffee Table
Earlier this year, I built a coffee table. Here, I built a second.
In my experience, most coffee tables are large, heavy, and immobile. They collect clutter, such as magazines, and lock down a space. In this project, I’m expanding a very small, lightweight, mobile table into a modular system that can give us a large centerpiece for group dinners or disappear into the corner to make space for dance practice.
The white paint is handling wear pretty well. I had assumed I’d need to resurface these.
With these tables, I’ve become very sure I want to stop covering wood with house paint. The grain is still slightly visible, but makes the surface seem imperfect. When we expose the grain, it can instead look beautiful and unique. I’m still learning about indoor woodworking.
Second Bedroom Light
The best thing about this light is that each side of the bed now has its own gentle light with easy push button. This way I can head to bed and leave a light on for a bedfellow who may join later.
New Table for the Studio
The first table we got a long time ago from a friend. A fine table.
I saw a nice IKEA tabletop on the side of the street and this project began. After a roommate left with many bins of items they stored in the studio, Renee and I disassembled the whole rack, painted the wall, and won new space for the common area from personal storage, the perpetual foe of the commons.
Cardboard Christmas Tree
Sometimes people like to hang out and aren’t sure what to do. If they start to notice this, they may decide they should depart to go take care of personal business on their own.
I like to encourage activities that are fun in the short term and productive (in some sense) in the long term. Here, I took a December hangout and got people to prepare this fake tree and ready props for our insane Christmas Tree art experience room (described much later).
When I go to event, I like bringing little, easy art projects where anyone can run the interaction and anyone can drop by and spin it the way they like. Basically, I make a plan with some artifacts I’ve prepared in advance, coordinate transportation and setup with others, then help run the booth/thing with friends. Ideally, other people will take over the booth/thing and host the interactivity for others! The most recognizable example of this is when we build a beach bar. We plan it, bring materials, build it, then run it for a while until someone else is running it. Some people go visit it, others host it and keep it tidy, we set it up and clean it up after the event. It makes the event better.
Unlike a bar, most of my builds are “art” projects where the props and interactions are not just drinking. Instead, we do things like pretend to sell you (obviously fake) fish in British accent, bully you into adopting plants, show you around a museum of nonsense, or offer you silly advice.
With these builds, some visitors want to follow the script, some are just overwhelmed and walk away, the very boring people point their cameras at us and are confused, and the very interesting people make their own offers and ask us to keep up. (Someone tried to buy the fish cart for a dragon egg.)
In a sense this sort of work is improv with props. We establish a scene so you can get going, then let participants enjoy, explore, make wild claims, and realize their imaginative selves beyond their expectations or usual identity. My review of Keith Johnstone’s Impro says more about this aspect of improv. It’s basically a nice thing to do but I wouldn’t say it changes the world overnight. Much better than drinking and watching sports, though.
Christmas Tree Room
Something that guides my artistic production is the events that others throw and invite me to! My artistically inclined neighbors had a twisted holidays party and I organized a “Tree” room. They gave us a small bedroom that was unoccupied and we built a magical little world.
I really thought I hadn’t done much art during this period. Actually, I just reused lots of bits of other art projects, which is excellent. I delivered art to many events, making them more fun and engaging.
Showing up so consistently with projects makes me wonder what the point is. These days, I think that it basically enriches nightlife, helps me and my friends meet people we like, and makes us a better beacon of hope for people living more pathetic lives in the large bleak world. What is the point of good music? What is the point of good movies?
I have many times considered the null hypothesis that there is no point to this work. When I try to insist on this for a while, I end up feeling like an idiot in denial of the life I actually live and the lives of those around me.
Fun art is great! Enriching our free time is worthwhile! Jobs are dumb!