“…silence like a cancer grows” 1
It’s so hard, so awkward!
We are just not used to speaking up anymore. If we do, we might not recognize our own voices, it might sound strange in the quiet room, we might draw attention to ourselves, we might end up offending someone. After all we are all friends here, even though – frankly – we don’t really care about most others, don’t think what they do really matters. But we are polite here. Moreover, we are comfortable here, even though we might never admit that.
It is often told that we live in the middle of the fastest growing region in the country. We are in the top 20 in size, and much higher in wealth – so apparently we live in a “big city” now! This growth in population has also seen the influx of a large number of artists and creative people. However the art scene is still that of a small town – very limited in size, with little reach and an existence mostly ignored by the media.
Evidently, the mere presence of a large number of people does not constitute a community. And the sum of all their work does not add up to become a “culture.” Also, if there is anything resembling a creative community here, it is insular – a sub-culture quite isolated from the majority of the populace. No amount of creative output will become a part of the culture until it is integrated into the larger society. Conversely, great art requires an enlightened audience, a demanding and challenging culture.
So, what is missing here?
“…for the sake of everything in the world, something must be done. The first comer, the one who has had these thoughts, must do some of the things that have been neglected; even though he is just anyone, certainly not the most suitable person: since there is no one else.” 2
All creative efforts are generally focused on reaching solutions. However when the validity of the process or the quality of the product is rarely questioned or evaluated, the process soon devolves into the repeated application of a few predetermined solutions. An easy example would be the built environment of this region.
Critique is the art of questioning the solutions. As the cliché goes, creation and critique are complementary. The small-town, afraid-to-offend attitude, along with an indifferent media, ensures that there is hardly any critique here – especially when it comes to the visual arts and design media. And an art scene with no dialogue or critique soon becomes largely directionless, and maybe as clueless Douglas Adams’ pan-galactic civilization, who find the Ultimate Answer (42, of course) with no idea as to what the question is. Creation without critique becomes an act of habit, the meaningless movement of intuition sans reason. A tango of one.
Answers, in art, are always personal. However the questions that lead to them (or arise from them) can be universal. Thus critique also becomes the only way to make artwork more accessible to a wider audience.
Thus: open dialogue and objective critique helps one move forward, sets higher standards, opens up our work to others. This magazine would try to be an open venue for critique – of not only individual works of art/design, but also of the process that leads to it, and the society that inspires and creates it. In a culture where everyone seems to have solutions, we would try to question the assumptions, the paths, and the goals. Of course, there is a limit to what a monthly forum and an online magazine can do. But one has to start somewhere.
The team for this issue includes Scott Vonnegut, Ann Fox, Barbara Schreiber, Erin Collins, Mitchell Kearney & Zachary Kane; with Matt Stover www.easttunnel.com leading the web design/art work, with Kyle Vonnegut.
The editorial team is made up of other artists/designers/writers/enthusiasts like you. So what is published is the product of an interactive “peer-review” process. None of the articles aspire or pretend to be an expert judgment or the final statement on the topic. It is nothing more than an invitation to a dialogue. Add your thoughts and comments at the forum at the end of each article.
Being the very first issue, the contributors are either invited, or point8 regulars. However we are opening it up now: Please join in the conversation. Or start a new one. We believe that what you have to say is far more important than who you are. We also believe that what you say does matter, that it can have an impact on how we see and do things here.
If only you would speak up.