Saturday, March 15, 2008

interview with Keri Smith

CV: How do imperfection and impermanence influence your work?

KS: Our culture teaches us that there is a standard that is most desirable and that things that are imperfect are less desirable. You can also see this applied to the emotional realm -- dark, ugly, or negative emotions are deemed dysfunctional; if we are not happy, we need to take a pill to feel better. So we all grow up with some kind of ideal that really has nothing to do with our personal beliefs or reality (accepting what actually exists and saying, "I am not perfect, and that is okay").

Over time we create a set of standards that none of us can possibly live up to, and so we have a tendency to beat ourselves up or become critical with much of what we attempt (which leads to depression). The goal for me at some point became to examine those imperfections, in the emotional realm but also in my creative life. I used to become frustrated when I would make a mistake or when a drawing didn't turn out the way I had intended. This is a natural part of creating, but I wanted to consider what would happen if I approached it from the perspective that those imperfections are not just beautiful but actually the thing necessary to make my work unique.
This is where the need to treat everything as an experiment came in. If you watch children creating, they often treat everything as an exercise where everything that happens is just a part of the exploration process (not a means to an end). It is adults that place value on the final product; children see it more as a journey -- "What if I add blue to the page?" Through my own research process I was introduced to the work of John Cage, who in his own work had tried to incorporate the concept of indeterminacy, a process by which the control of the artist is given over to some other means (decisions are determined by chance operations, such as dice, I Ching, or randomness). I became interested in this concept as a way for [me] to let go and not have to control the work.

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