Sunday, February 12, 2012

Musical Compositions

 Like many other artists I often interrogate myself about how I'm spending my time, “What is art? Why am I making these things? What significance do they have?” and, “What does it mean to be an artist?” I've come up with various answers to each question through interview and creative process. Every answer has been more or less fulfilling, but no answer has thoroughly satisfied my craving for that last question, “What does it mean to be an artist?” Is it to study and imitate the fashion of the classics? Is it to be eccentric and quirky? Is it the be the next new hott creator? Is it to be an innovator that saves the world with one's own ideas? Is it to pass the time in an enjoying way? These answers all give explanations of various motivations to make art, but never got the the heart of my question, “What does it MEAN to be an artist?”.

 During my run in the woods (my weekly place for inspiration), I listened to music that I had composed the night before. Upon hearing my own music I almost fell down, spellbound. This is so beautiful. It is unlike anything I've ever heard, but like everything I've ever loved. I then grabbed my head with both hands and I knew that the creative organ that expressed itself through these sounds was my mind. Always the philosophizing devil's advocate that I am (even to myself), I asked, “Is this really my own, I would not have been able to make it without tools and my tools. Therefore, my music is the product of tools. If my music is the product of tools, my music would be different if I used different tools. If I had access to more expensive tools, my music could be better (or worse). If the quality of my art depends on the quality of tools that I can BUY, then art making can be bought to a certain extent, granting that the possessor of money also possesses a creative imagination.

 That damn devil's advocate inside my head had me a little down, but the endorphins of the run had me up; I found a more positive outlook. Of coarse, I used instruments to make sound, a mic to record and a computer program to edit. My music is something that exists in the physical realm, it is absolutely necessary to use something physical to create physical art. The tools I used were translators that gave me some idea of how beautiful my creative mind is. I left it at that and kept running (and walking). (parenthesis are for lazy writers).

Anyways, to translate our creative mind through physical materials is what it means to be an artist. There is not a person I've met that doesn't do this. Everyone I know is an artist in some way. Our creations are our mind! That is amazing!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cypher Variation Experiment

  The goal of the Cipher Variation Experiment is to provide a visual aid though documentation of the variations that one idea undergoes as it evolves through creative process. In this case the idea that I began with was a cipher, or a key. I chose a cipher because it was something that I had never built before. I like the fact that keys usually belong to a lock; it is not often that a key is made with nothing to unlock. I created a imaginary keys to an imaginary places out of clay.
I found that no two ciphers look the same while the ciphers could be classified in sets. I noticed that as one type of cypher began to get stale in my mind, I suddenly approach the idea with a different angle and the forms morph with new stylistic approaches. Gradually the fact the my ciphers were keys became more and more cryptic.
I do not claim that any of these keys are masterpieces in themselves, but the documentations of the change in the way that I approach an idea is proving to be helpful in understanding my own creative process. I hope the Cipher Variation Experiment may help others in some way.
       All of my ciphers were fired in my two mini-gama woodfire kilns. Many of the ciphers underwent post firing embellishments.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clinthorne Compositions Artist Statement 2012

In 2007, I received a Youth Ambassador Scholarship and lived with a host family
for one summer in Egypt. I had developed an interest in language during my first study
abroad, a one year program in Japan learning Japanese. Participating in study abroad
programs has led me to the knowledge that successful positive communication runs much
deeper than words alone.
Late in my first year of college, I discovered a new language, the language of a
curled leaf. One day I was out on a walk in the woods, when a cluster of dead leaves
caught my attention. The leaves resembled a group of hanging bats. Upon cautiously
studying the leaves closer, I realized that the forms I gazed upon were not leaves at all;
they were treasures. The contours of the curled veins took my gaze on a promenade
through compositions that were endlessly interesting. It was then that I looked down and
put my face near the forest floor to realize that it was covered with precious treasures;
every single fallen leaf had curled in the drying process to display countless variations of
a mysterious elegance. I took handfuls of samples home and observed the curling of
leaves over time. This event has seeded numerous questions in my mind and fueled my
artistic endeavors.
Gradually, I created a written vocabulary of words to interrogate my leaves. I
learned the grammar used by several species: Kukui- Aleurites moluccana, Lapalapa-
Cheirodendron platyphyllum, Trumpet-tree- Cecropia obtusifolia. I took extra Botany
classes in order to learn more about leaf functionality. Then after copying a leaf’s
sentence structure word for word, I began to create my own verse through the medium of
Later in college, I realized that a leaf’s language is just one dialect. I have become
fascinated with all things in their drying process, particularly insects. Anything growing
with water content will form natural tensions when drying that cause shapes to sway like
three dimensional calligraphy. Through observing the drying process of anything, I am
able to observe it’s natural architecture more fully, record it’s vocabulary and expand on
possible morphology.
Architecture of buildings and cities also interests me. Looking at pipes and
electricity lines, I am reminded of veins in a leaf. Rusting sheet metal or crumpled paper
often share characteristic patterns with decaying leaves. My focus is on the waste remains
after every part of an object has fulfilled it’s purpose or can no longer perform. The
unquestionable similarities between natural design and industrial design have led me to
believe that the delineation between the natural and the unnatural is becoming more and
more transparent.
It is no secret that rusty farm equipment, old books and ancient religious objects
are imbued with beauty that exists beyond their physical appearances. My drive for
fluency also goes beyond capturing the physical attributes of my observations. I am
searching to understand with fluency the beauty that exists in drying tensions and
remnants of function.
The summer I resided in the Islamic quarters of the older district of Cairo, I lived
in an apartment building that was several hundred years old. The building had the most
beautiful curved stairs that sloped downwards caused by the erosive footsteps of it’s
occupants over time. Although the stairs were uncomfortable to walk up, I remember
feeling a sense of mystery under my feet, knowing that hundreds of lives have depended
on these stairs for so long. When things fulfill their purpose to the utmost extent, their
beauty is exposed.
Presently, the melodic structure of my compositions has become the focus of my
building process. Audio is now an integral part of my exploration as well. My recent
pieces have sound components that do not have a predominant melody. The sound
provides an imaginary space for the melody of my physical artwork to exist. In this way, I
am able to sculpt melody, provide a more complete art to viewers and delve even deeper
into the language that captivates me.