Why create?

Jack Wright has a great, thought-provoking entry in his “Shakey Ground” blog today— bringing up a facet of the “why do I do this?” question I find myself asking so often in relation to my own sound “art.”

“But even in the most private writing, each page of which is afterwards tossed away without regret, there is something communicated from the self to the self, however momentarily, selves which are by the very act of such communication distanced, other to each other. What is other to me can also be other to those who are not me. And as soon as I realize the huge difficulty I would have in destroying my writing I know that I am seeking to go outside myself to these others. They have come inside this self, I have let them into the most hidden places I nurture. Suffering seeks to be known; the voice may cry in the wilderness, or the falling tree in the “empty” forest, but someday will resonate in some ear somewhere. Even the most cynical writing has this hope, this poverty.”

Since I first started trying to make music, I have wondered about my own reasons for doing so. Initially, I suppose I was content with just having fun with sound, with recording, with the tinkering that went along with music. As many of my first recordings were tied closely with freeform radio broadcasting, I was also intrigued by the somewhat confrontational nature of odd music– the “us” versus “them” mentality that is only reinforced by the occasional phone call, “what is this noise?!”

By my second (somewhat) serious attempt to record an album of my own odd music, I was beginning to realize I had made far too many assumptions about what I was doing, and why I was continuing to do it. In the liner notes to the album, I wrote:

“It is not a feature of good communication to be able to be interpreted in many ways unless there are many messages. Therefore, perfect communication is communication which can relate a specific message to all recipients that is the same message as that which was intended to be sent. So far, bumper stickers and flipping people off may be the only communication that is perfect. The different forms of art are numbered among the many forms of communication. The purpose of art is the same as that of all communication: to relay a message perfectly. Art has never been able to do this. Neither have newspapers, inter-office memos, or sculpture; although some routinely come close. The more complex the message, the more difficult it is to have perfect communication. With complexity comes an increased tendency to communicate false messages. As complexity increases, so do the number of false messages, interpretations, and people’s “take” on an idea. It is the eventual goal of all communication (art included) to achieve perfect communication. You will not hear any perfect communication on the audio portion of this album, because I am not attempting to communicate with you at all. Therefore, the audio portion of this album is no longer art. It is something entirely new.”

In essence, I declared that what I was doing was something between art and craft– too impracticable to be worthy of a craft; but falling short of the necessary communicative component to be thought of as art. I was, I suppose, unknowingly advocating a sort of free creativity that is ordinarily associated with children or prehistoric caveman flutes.

I’d heard of “art for the sake of art,” but this seemed a little ridiculous. In all honesty, I had to admit that I truly had nothing to say in this manner. So whatever reason, it took me nearly two years before I realized that it was the process of creation that held the most meaning for me. The end results have always been intriguing; but it is the thinking, planning, the actualization of a concept that ultimately fires me up. For STARTLING MONIKER readers, this probably comes as no surprise, given my penchant for lengthy liner notes!

Like Wright, I can’t sum my entry up either. I’m still looking for answers, and it seems that the more I find, the more questions arise. I will say, though, that’s its nice to see that I’m not the only person examining these thoughts.

For more about Jack Wright, visit Spring Garden Music.

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