A Blog Is Not A Letter


I've written many letters in my life. Maybe too many but suffice it to say I'm familiar with the form of a letter whether personal or impersonal. I've thought the blog was close to a letter in form save that the recipient is unknown. And this has been an issue for me it's very much like writing in the dark to whom am I speaking I ask myself as I reveal personal material that perhaps I should not reveal in such a public way. After all blogs get around even if we don't quite know where and who reads them. My art is very personal though it may seem like a very public thing since I've been exhibiting since the late 1960's. I guess I mean personal in the sense that my art arises from my life experiences and from my long thread of images and ideas going back to school days in Chicago. I have often been seperated from friends and family and I have tried to keep in touch with various individuals over many years . When I was in California I first began writing in earnest as my family and friends were in Chicago later when I came to Minneapolis to teach I wrote friends in California and in New York City. At certain points specific correspondences dominated , for instance lately I write my friend and collaborator Stu Mead in Berlin at least once or twice most months but my other correspondents less often. In the distant past I wrote my old friend Steve in Viet Nam. And by email I've written many people particularly people in the arts like Kathy Halbreich  or decades ago Walter Hopps.

I've come to have my doubts about writing as I've grown old. Not that I don't think it can be effective as a means of communication but rather that the world has a shorter attention span the 140 characters allowed by Twitter a case in point. The world is much less patient with text than it once was. The comment the quip much more welcome than the essay or the 500 page novel , even films rarely exceed a 90 minute time frame, people are anxious to return to their electric devices see what has happened since last they looked. And looking is a key term the world is more visual and less about reading. This may explain why slogans often are more effective than reasoned arguements we just don't have the patience for a contemplative turn of mind. I often think that what seems like a long time now is really not such a thing it's something to do with our new media times, we don't have patience because we are so connected that patience seems like yesterday like a different time frame. Sure painting suffers as well as people don't understand what to do with a static object after a few moments of looking at it indeed one of the reasons installation art is so popular is it creates a sort of experience in space more like a film set than a painting. Installations invite a faster take, you walk bye you glance you get an impression and an experience is driven by one's movement by changing positions relative to the size of the work. This first became apparent when paintings and sculptures grew to quite enormous sizes often filling gallery walls and rooms. This experiential situation is more film like more like a period room or a fun house room. This movement towards an art that was a more complete experience began when I was a very young artist and continues today it's sort of the answer to the increasing desire for more wholistic art experiences. It's one of the reasons I prefer to have a hand in installs of my work, I feel an exhibition needs be a spectacle to be of interest and notice to the present day demands of an audiences increasingly in a hurry to get their thrills and insights. Life is shorter than it used to be one thinks and senses. Or the audiences are in a hurry to get back to their other desires , the news feed waits for no one.

The letter is to you it need find some common ground as here in terms of visual art and writing about art. We are fickle beings yesterday's hero is todays object of ridicule. Many of the virtues have become nuisances , justice is farther off than it ever was. People say life isn't fair I say it capricious but a future will replace these times that perhaps will see things quite differently than we do. Marcel Duchamp felt that posterity was the ultimate arbiter of what is art and what is not art. And I agree having lived into this new century and this new technological reality it seems as if I have lived into my own posterity or at least it's beginning. And though I miss somethings I enjoy being able to see the shape of things to come even as my own world fades into the shade of time past when art and music opened up a world for many of we young hungry souls.