Exercises in Looking

Artist Statement:

 

Two years ago, after Trump got elected I started these Exercises as a means to bring a practice closer to me when I felt completely disabled from producing more ambitious work. They evolved into one-hour intentions of vulnerability; a commitment to stay open despite and alongside of-----. Exercises in Looking are built around simple directions: to film myself looking at something and likewise film the thing I’m looking at for an hour and then respond to the experience in writing. By using the failure of cinema’s ability to reveal certain interior emotional states, these exercises exist to bring attention to the delicate and personal relationship to looking that go beyond reductive conversations of the cinematic gaze.

 

I am writing to say that they are an invitation, an invitation to practice and an invitation now. Make. Make always. Don't stop making.

#1      Find someone you love totally, spend many nights with them, wake up early one morning and position a chair so you can sit and watch them. Look at them all over! Know that looking is only one half or one part visual, the rest is invisible, interior, emotional. Let the images serve as both a failed document and residue of a period of looking.

#1

Find someone you love totally, spend many nights with them, wake up early one morning and position a chair so you can sit and watch them. Look at them all over! Know that looking is only one half or one part visual, the rest is invisible, interior, emotional. Let the images serve as both a failed document and residue of a period of looking.


#2      Find yourself thinking about The Virgin Suicides. Imagine the scenes where one of the helplessly emotional teenagers is lying on the bed and looking at the ceiling. Maybe that never happened, but imagine it anyway. Find yourself waiting for a text, or a phone call. Find yourself starved for physical contact and waiting for the door to open for someone to ravage you. Find yourself waiting for any kind of connection. Lie on your bed and watch the ceiling, watch the fire alarm and light, get lost in the white perspectiveless paint. Find yourself.

#2

Find yourself thinking about The Virgin Suicides. Imagine the scenes where one of the helplessly emotional teenagers is lying on the bed and looking at the ceiling. Maybe that never happened, but imagine it anyway. Find yourself waiting for a text, or a phone call. Find yourself starved for physical contact and waiting for the door to open for someone to ravage you. Find yourself waiting for any kind of connection. Lie on your bed and watch the ceiling, watch the fire alarm and light, get lost in the white perspectiveless paint. Find yourself.

#3      Watch the sunset. Think about a text you got earlier that said, "I came to realize that, in every step along the way, we had to do more because we had less." Think about the cameras recording this; one came from a university 45 mins away and the other came from a high school friend who found out I needed a camera and reached out. Think about how you've had oat meal with peanut butter every morning for the last several months; think about the bean patties you've made for lunch every day for the last month. Think about the possibility of it all. Watch the sunset.

#3

Watch the sunset. Think about a text you got earlier that said, "I came to realize that, in every step along the way, we had to do more because we had less." Think about the cameras recording this; one came from a university 45 mins away and the other came from a high school friend who found out I needed a camera and reached out. Think about how you've had oat meal with peanut butter every morning for the last several months; think about the bean patties you've made for lunch every day for the last month. Think about the possibility of it all. Watch the sunset.

#4      Watch a film that has carried a lot of emotional baggage for you. I chose Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. Watch the way the film elevates the most normative of life styles through aesthetic exploration. Know that this beauty does not include your struggles. Remember a painful relationship in your own life: of a time when the two of you went to see this film for the first time in Alaska of all places! Remember how on the way out he said that he had never seen a film that required his whole self to watch. Know that this whole self is something you could never be, or never amount to, or could never include you. Know that you did want this whole self, burn that yearning into you, know that it was there amongst the beautiful shallow depth of field shots, lens flares and floating mothers. Keep your eyes open. Find yourself angry with the film. Hold that anger like an instruction manual. Find yourself bored with the film. Hold that boredom like a talisman. Find yourself laughing at the film. Hold that laughter as delicately as a new idea.

#4

Watch a film that has carried a lot of emotional baggage for you. I chose Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. Watch the way the film elevates the most normative of life styles through aesthetic exploration. Know that this beauty does not include your struggles. Remember a painful relationship in your own life: of a time when the two of you went to see this film for the first time in Alaska of all places! Remember how on the way out he said that he had never seen a film that required his whole self to watch. Know that this whole self is something you could never be, or never amount to, or could never include you. Know that you did want this whole self, burn that yearning into you, know that it was there amongst the beautiful shallow depth of field shots, lens flares and floating mothers. Keep your eyes open. Find yourself angry with the film. Hold that anger like an instruction manual. Find yourself bored with the film. Hold that boredom like a talisman. Find yourself laughing at the film. Hold that laughter as delicately as a new idea.

#5      Consider the dishes. Think about accumulation. Three days of drinking coffee with a wee bit of milk. The bi-monthly batch of veggie burgers. The fried tofu. The bread. The good intentions of a water bottle. The kava tea at night. Remember a time when your dad came to visit you in your college dorm and said that a messy room meant I was depressed. Think about how bleak you've felt all week. Think about all things you don't want to do or deal with. The god damn cast iron! Know that the narratives that hold us will always eclipse the narratives we tell: the sponge needs replacing. Keep your head down, Kiddo. Finish what you started, human. And I, if I be lifted up.

#5

Consider the dishes. Think about accumulation. Three days of drinking coffee with a wee bit of milk. The bi-monthly batch of veggie burgers. The fried tofu. The bread. The good intentions of a water bottle. The kava tea at night. Remember a time when your dad came to visit you in your college dorm and said that a messy room meant I was depressed. Think about how bleak you've felt all week. Think about all things you don't want to do or deal with. The god damn cast iron! Know that the narratives that hold us will always eclipse the narratives we tell: the sponge needs replacing. Keep your head down, Kiddo. Finish what you started, human. And I, if I be lifted up.