Wednesday, 25 July 2012
the darkness of technique
I seem to keep reading about the need to 'go into the darkness', in whatever sense you want to apply that idea, in order to find the light that you're seeking. I was trying this idea out the other day, and it occurred to me that a darkness in relation to my work is my resistance to the learning of formal technique.
This seems to be partly an innate, familial obsession with not doing as you're told. It also seems to link to memories of being made to practice scales, or being made to practice generally, and also of doing endless drawing exercises to 'improve your technique'. De Alcantara talks about this often meaningless-feeling focus on the technical, which assumes that only after you've 'mastered' certain things will you be allowed to do the thing you really want to do, ie. play music. He asks how a person is supposed to suddenly find musicality after years of that way of approaching their art form.
I know that my awareness of lack of technique is partly a vicious circle which impedes my playing. Even with the technique I have, when I'm on my own, in a 'self 2' state, I seem to be able to play quite nicely thank you very much with just the technique that I have. However, the reality is also that, in most kinds of public, being heard/recorded type situation, my awareness of lack of technique screws things up quite substantially. So why do I not actually 'practice', even learn, some things, so that I can feel more confident?
I saw this technical resistance thing the other day in relation to my current Indian dance project in painting. After doing some impressionistic, feely type of images for the last few weeks, I've begun to see that while sometimes this works well, at other times the images have no life to them at all. When I look really closely I see that my impression of a line or an angle was really quite inaccurate, and that's what has killed the life of the image. So yesterday I forced myself to draw some preliminary lines in relation to a line measured on the image I was working from, and, hey presto, a much better feel! It was like when I learnt the simple formula for the proportions of the face, and suddenly found I could make faces appear convincingly from nowhere with the greatest of ease. The resistance to drawing guide lines is RIDICULOUS, and is holding back my work. It's as if there's this great big plug of contrariness that I somehow need to blow out of my inner space so that I can start to actually learn the tools I need to do what I want. This is not the meaningless learning of tricks and rules which lead to clever, sterile work. This is learning how to use a chisel, for goodness sake.
(interesting technical problems arising here in relation to making a convincing image from a photograph that foreshortens the arms because it's high up and you can't get a straight on view. And related issues such as the fact that some of the images are incomplete, so the hand or foot is just a rough area of stone - but does this just look weird when it becomes a new form....)