So much of what I present to the public relies upon the edit. The judicious pruning. I’m not sure what percentage of my time is spent doing this – either consciously or subconsciously. But each piece of work, be it writing (even here if you can believe it!), songwriting, sound work, music, and drawing, all rely on a series of decisions while making, naturally, but the subsequent conscious editing is also crucial.
I have a couple of exhibitions coming up. I’m feeling the pressure a little, because I believe both of them are important to my artistic development and yes, dammit, my career. (The Art Career may be the subject of another post, but not here).
So there’s a lot going on in the studio and in my head and in the business end. I have a large pile of large drawings to review. For this I have enlisted the help of friend and fellow drawer Sarah Goudie. She is wise and knowledgeable about the practice of drawing, and is good at prompting the right sort of thinking to get me on the edit track. For one of the exhibitions I need six pieces of work… I have decided five drawings and one sound piece/song.
I’ve said here before that although I draw on large pieces of paper, I’m not always convinced that going large is a thing in itself. But there is something about endurance here. A large piece of paper covering the entirety of the table requires commitment, tenacity, stamina. The work I do on those large pieces are different to those I do in a sketchbook or even on a piece cut to A1 or A2. However, it doesn’t mean that everything on that tablecloth of paper is worth letting loose on the world. The judgement and edit, ultimately, is mine to make. The part of the brain used to make that decision is I think, different to the part that makes it. I recruit the help to nudge my brain into that different mode and function.
So last week the large sheets were laid out on the gallery floor and we talked about what I liked, what worked (and didn’t) and why. There’s a physicality to be engaged with, a scale that can’t exist on Instagram. One of the exhibitions is purely online – the other hopefully both real and online. There’s a dance isn’t there? We walk into a space and we are drawn to an image… we get closer… then we get right in there so we can see the quality of line/material and try to figure out what it is. This is before we try to guess or ascribe any meaning (the artist’s or our own).
So how much of this drawing holds the quality I am looking for, as the artist? Which bits then detract from that? Where do I make the cuts?
I had originally thought that the same work would exist in both exhibitions, but as the edit goes forward I realise that I have a different opportunity within the edit to push the work forward, to focus slightly differently for each. The online work is not about scale, so the hugeness of the paper (6’x4’?) Isn’t an issue. But I can get in really close to that quality of line here.
For the first instance then, I will concentrate on the works for the gallery, and get them mounted, sliced accurately, and carefully, professionally scanned. These scanned images can then be used not just as details, but digital images in their own right that could be projected, or printed if required. And as such they become something different. Once I have the high resolution scanned image I can play again and edit again. From these original works I shall then select the pieces to feature in the online exhibition. This feels much more satisfactory than just pictures from a gallery, in a second choice venue. These will be designed for purpose.
Meanwhile… in the music end of the studio I have started singing. Again it will all be in the cut. But I am starting to see and accept (and maybe I will eventually actually relish) the difference. I cannot yet be in the same room as my producer, in a professional music studio, but I do have the means to record. And he has the means to edit what I record. They are not “clean” recordings. But they are of interest. The background noises can be edited out to a certain extent, but they can also be exploited as a different quality of line.
Both exhibitions will include a song… at least one sound piece… and this edit has its own process. Decisions are being made according to the cloth we have to cut.
It may be that eventually I do re-record my vocal in Michael’s studio. In the meantime, as a point of pause and assessment this is good. I have audio and visual that have been made at the same time, they have influenced each other.
And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point.