Inspiration log: Marc Johns, The 100 Day Project, mail-order doll photography, Time Well Spent, The Wreck by Don Paterson
Inspiration log is my weekly collection of 5 things that have touched me creatively.
I read an interview Marc Johns did about his playful, humorous approach to making art. He said that he was hoping to express something true by making light of things, questioning what is, and why it is. Expressing something that is true - that's also my aspiration for making art. And this is why his work feels so accessible, gentle and tender and without drama. Or perhaps, his kind of drama is that of the small and everyday, moments we all experience.
Not to mention that I am in great admiration of the career he has created for himself - making a living off of doing personal work. I especially like that he works small. "You could fit my studio in a large suitcase," he says.
The 100 Day Project was originally a class assignment Michael Bierut gave to his Yale School of Art workshop students with the prompt: do one action for 100 days and document it. Elle Luna and The Great Discontent expanded it into a more public art project that people could be a part of, and share via Instagram with group accountability.
Bierut says this assignment came from his fascination with "the ways that creative people balance inspiration and discipline in their working lives." Most people start off enthusiastic, and it almost always becomes a grind. But that's part of the beauty of the project; the only way is through the long tunnel of time. This appeals to me immensely because it grapples with so many things essential to creating: daily practice, routine, repetition, boredom, process, growth, change. I haven't decided what to do for my 100 day project, but it's definitely on my horizon.
I saw June Korea's work on It's Nice That, and looking through this series of his doll felt at once disturbed and entranced. Rather than being titillating, his photographs are tender and domestic, and imbued with this sense of loneliness and a very ordinary desire for intimacy.
4) TED Talk & movement: Time Well Spent
Tristan Harris's TED Talk on technology and distraction really hit the spot on issues I'd been thinking about a lot lately. He started a movement called Time Well Spent about changing our values for technology - as consumers and designers - the way that the organic food movement changed our values for food. Technology should add value to our offline lives, enable us to have choice, rather than feel forced between a dichotomy: feeling like you're miss out, or staying constantly connected.
He also wrote a blog post about reconfiguring your phone to maximize mindfulness, which I highly recommend. In my own life, I try to refrain from checking email or social media until noon everyday - and it's made the biggest difference in my productivity and wellbeing.
Lately I've been exchanging favorite poems with a favorite friend over text. She sent me this one a few weeks ago, and I still keep coming back to it. I'm blown away by the ship metaphors and imagery here.
But what lovers we were, what lovers,
even when it was all over—
the bull-black, deadweight wines that we swung
towards each other rang and rang
like bells of blood, our own great hearts.
We slung the drunk boat out of port
and watched our sober unreal life
unmoor, a continent of grief;
the candlelight strange on our faces
like the tiny silent blazes
and coruscations of its wars.
We blew them out and took the stairs
into the night for the night's work,
stripped off in the timbered dark,
gently hooked each other on
like aqualungs, and thundered down
to mine our lovely secret wreck.
We surfaced later, breathless, back
to back, and made our way alone
up the mined beach of the dawn.