The balance between control and chaos is something that every artist does every day. There is a spectrum between lovers of control and lovers of chaos. Ranging from photographers to sculptors respectively. Then there are those that walk the line between both and calculate their findings. My mind immediately thinks of Pollack. How could it not? His work is the embodiment of this idea. Many greats teeter on the edge of something indescribable- some call it chaos, some call it madness, some call it transcendence. Whatever its name, it is the taste of which no serious artist can deny. It’s what feeds us, literally, because god knows it’s not the money, the cred, the outcomes. It’s the practice of connecting with something unnamable and great that feeds the desire to continue on creating. The practice includes attempting to get more, to contain more, to translate more of this unnamable element. For the purposes of this short written expose, I’ll call it chaos. Others may choose to call it light, life, love, lust, or the muse. The other side is control, calculation, precision, the human element.
My personal journey as a creative started with music and sound, as a percussionist in a 5th grade band. Anyone who has participated in band or music lessons of any kind, knows that when you are starting out, chaos reigns. You can’t quite get a grasp on what you are really supposed to be doing. Then you do it over and over and over again until your muscles start to remember on their own. The human element takes over. This can be truly beneficial, especially for the ears of the parents and participants involved. Control and precision is crucial to really doing anything other than making a racket. I went into the extreme realms of this, by competing in drum line competitions until the age of 18. To balance this “control” side of my creative practice out, I started writing short stories and poems. In those early days of writing, chaos once again reigned. I let myself free write and free associate. In college, exhausted by the competitiveness of music, I decided to side with a new found special interest and pursued a writing degree. I too learned rules and regulations, formulas and poetic meters. I read canon English literature and of course, got obsessed with surrealism, and post modernist tinkering and ideals. I wanted more of that chaos and I wanted to learn how to make it my own language. To harness it and grasp it at the tip of my pen. To finally be able to play the game of imagination and discovery with no limits. This too, eventually left me exhausted. How could I discover a new language all on my own? Without limitations, the words become so jumbled they stop making sense and instead of sounding like Lewis Carroll, I started sounding like… well… an amateur. It reminded me of being in 5th grade again, stumbling through sight reading snare drum rudiments. A cacophony of nothing but random beats, without reason, without a thread of rhythm, direction, or dynamics.
I continued to write and to play music, but began to be interested in films, photography and visual art. After getting a deadly infectious parasite in South America (another story for another time) that left me sick and faced with mortality, I started working towards sharing my work on a larger scale. A story I had written very much felt like a film. I became entranced by the magic of cinema as many do, and wanted to know how these visionary filmmakers seemed to capture so much in a seemingly simple time based medium. I went back to school for health resources and yet again, to delve into a creative practice, one that would change everything for me.
In film school I found that there were two kinds of filmmakers: photographers working with light and poets working with time. I aired quite loftily on the side of a poet working with time. Being at one of the only remaining experimental film programs left in the country- founded by Stan Brakhage at the University of Colorado, I had hoped to find a different way of communicating. I very quickly realized that my yearning for chaos directly butted heads with my profound need to control some aspect of what was happening in the frame. The thing I learned about film was that so many- so so many things can go wrong. And it wasn’t just pieces of paper on the line, or my parents ears enduring drum practice, it was time and money- all the money I could muster to pour into it. The stakes were higher for me and I had to create something that people could remotely wrap their minds around. With the craving for chaos, I mostly made experimental pieces, some with sync sound and dialog, but mostly I made films with an old Bolex, a faint inkling of an idea, an excursion into nature, and a box of old inks, paints and my grandmothers typewriter. I knew how to write poems, I knew how to write songs, so why shouldn’t I be able to make films and marry the two? This was my main intention going into it, to make visual poems married with my own musical scores. Then I got lost in the darkroom. With chemicals, with metrics, with undeveloped rolls of film that could be destroyed in a second flat if I didn’t take the right steps.