On Parameters

I’m observing that there are some questions and answers I’m experiencing from both my daily photo project and weekly poem project.

I post the photos daily to my blog but monthly on facebook. Why monthly? I guess it’s neat, an easy, organised system that is also pretty easy for friends and family to take in. Substantial yet not too much at one time. I wonder what that says about me. So I observe. I do like a level of structure, organisation, placement etc… I like to know where things are and what’s coming up. Yet I also love to jam, improvise, be spontaneous, get messy.

This has led me to thinking about parameters in art. Particularly self-imposed parameters. A large driving force behind my projects this year was some words of artist Chuck Close discussing the ideas behind working at your art all the time regardless of whether you feel inspired or not. How it forces you to make choices, throw things out, head in different directions. I imposed these large parameters on myself to see where it would take things and get away from the idea that art is like an outside force waiting to strike you, but rather that it’s inside all the time and working at it all the time changes one from an artist hoping a good idea will appear to an artist coming up with ideas constantly. Sure some of those ideas are terrible, but the amount of good ideas that result from this intensity of work far outweighs the amount of good ideas that just ‘struck’.

Suddenly the parameters have a dramatic impact on the work. Where I was writing the odd poem here or there, sometimes going months without writing a thing, now I write something every week. The added parameter of publishing online means that that something is ‘finished’ too. I can always go back and reuse or reinterpret those words again if I feel like it, but there’s also a sense of moving on to the next one.

Then I’m observing the effect of parameters within each project. I started the photo project with only the aim of taking an ‘interesting’ photo every day with my compact Fujifilm F70 digital camera. For the first four months I just snapped away and worked on observing ordinary things and situations for interesting angles. The in May I made some software and hardware additions to my iPhone and decided I would only use them for that month. This caused a completely different look to the month when compared to a previous month, so for the next month I decided to use either camera but had loose theme of ‘walls and surfaces and what ideas get projected upon them’. I found it pretty hard some days and got to the end of the month thinking I needed to loosen the parameters again.

That’s where this whole thing is really starting to get interesting for me, where questions are being raised – in taking all the inner parameters back off, I’m feeling directionless (with the photos) this month. I’ve already come up with a theme for next month and am looking forward to exploring it. (Why must I be doing this in months? – another of the questions I need to explore…)

Back in the land of words, this month I rediscovered a very similar technique of placing a theme of sorts on a series of poems. This quite naturally fell to a month as I wrote a poem with the title ‘I’ll Sing’ and decided to write the next few poems starting with the title, each title starting with another I’ contraction. As there are only four in common use it all turned out quite neatly and in tune with what I’ve been thinking about the photos. I’ve used this title idea before, where each title was one word and ended in ‘cast’ – Outcast, Forecast, Broadcast etc… and constructed the piece from there.

I am reminded this month to think on the parameters I am setting and work on creating new and varied ones to open up different directions.

July 2010 Derek Wilson

~ by Derek Wilson on July 20, 2010.

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