While I was in Budapest I was commissioned to create an award for the new Szikra díj music award. Or, "The Spark." I got to work with Gabor Keleti, the overseer of the program, to design and develop the award. Here's some process shots and the result. Super happy with how they turned out.
In 1936, German social theorist Walter Benjamin wrote "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." He believed that modern culture consumed art in a way it never had before - in a way that ultimately destroyed it.
Within his lifetime Benjamin saw the technological advances of mechanical reproduction and the growing accessibility of print media. In his book, he claims that, historically, art has always possessed an aura, which comes from the time and space it was created in, and the purpose it was created for. But now in the age of mechanical reproduction, images of works of art are reproduced in textbooks, post cards, film, etc. - and because of this, the aura is lost. For example, the mystical quality of going to the Vatican, walking into the chapel, and gazing up at the astounding paintings is depreciated because most people today already know what it looks like. It is not consumed in the way it was intended.
Fast forward 30 years - the Pop Art movement monopolized on this theory. Warhol's Marilyn's and Mao's were made with the intention of being reproduced. Of the prints he made, no one is more original or authentic than the next. In the age of mechanical reproduction, “the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility” (Benjamin).
My point: where does this leave me - a Fine Artist in the Age of Social Media.
A ceramic sculptor at that. I work with dirt and fire, literally the most archaic medium.
In the Age of Social Media, art is consumed in a mater of seconds. Maybe two. And a double tap (if you're lucky). On one hand, I have to thank Instagram. Through it I've gained a modest following of strangers who'd have never found me otherwise.
But here is my problem (the same Benjamin exposed nearly a century ago): I create in the third dimension - but my art lives in the second. So rarely is it ever consumed within the realm I literally formed it in. Most people will never know the size of a piece, the depth and detail, the weight and touch. And I will never see their emotional interaction - which is a huge factor in my creative process.
It's interesting because I find myself creating within this awareness. I've made a number of pieces over the last year that I sculpted in a day, spray painted, snapped a photo of, posted to Instagram, then let crumble back into dust. Without putting it through the kiln (which takes time and money), my sculptures will go back into the earth it came from. Whereas my fired and finished pieces will literally last thousand of years. Think of all the ancient pottery from cultures long forgotten - my work (not dependent on if people want it or not), will outlive me for centuries.
But that's just it.
Not only is the aura of my art lost through the two dimensionality of social media - but if I keep creating art in this way, for this two second consumption - my work will physically be non-existent.
Better pull a Warhol quick and figure out how to embrace this.
(Also, I think this might be the start of my grad thesis.)
I had the idea to make this cracked open geode heart three years ago, so I'm excited to finally be making it. Working on this scale is a challenge, and timing is key. If the clay is too wet it was fall in on itself, but if it's too dry I can't add the crystals - which is taking me days and days to do. Spray bottle and plastic wrap are saving the day.
I've been in Balatonalmadi for three weeks, a small lake town about an hour southeast of Budapest. I think the town is confused by my presence. All the other summer tourists have left - but for some reason that American girl is still here...
It's a curious town because it's so idealic - the ice cream shop, the jovial German baker, the kids on bikes, the old people sitting on benches. The houses are large, I'd classify most as mansions, with ornate wood detailing and large panel windows. The town center is right out my door, with a couple of little restaurants and shops, and the train station. On the other side of the tracks is a sculpture park, tennis courts, and the lake. Lake Balaton is the one of the largest lakes in Europe, I believe the largest in Eastern Europe. They call it a "sweetwater" lake. I did notice something a little more off today. Kind of eerie. Walking home from the farmers market I passed a locked and gated camp site. 20-30 small cabins. They're cute, each had a small patio and eaves. But something about the symmetry. Each was a perfect rectangular cube, doors and windows in the same place on every one, all facing south; and lined, one directly behind the other, in two long columns. I guess any campsite could look like this, and considering this is a popular summer destination, I shouldn't assume. But knowing the history of Hungary in the context of the Nazi and communist regimes, I can't help but wonder if it was built for another purpose.
Anyways, I'm living at AlmadiART, a ceramic, glass, and concrete art studio. I'll be here for another 6 weeks. It's a gorgeous facility, my studio fills with natural light during the day, and has views of the garden. Every now and then a horse drawn carriage will trot by (seriously though, Twilight Zone?). About a year ago I decided to seek out an art residency in Europe, and found this one. I never thought an opportunity like this would be available to me, as a broke artist. But I'm actually saving a significant amount of money by living here for three months rather than in Los Angeles. The exchange rate is strongly in my favor.
So I'm excited and thankful to be here, in this perfect and slightly eerie little town. Being able to devote myself fully to my art is a privilege, and I'm excited to see what my hands can create when I have all the time and resources.