Moshe Ladanga

Posts Tagged ‘creativity

Imagination and Language Part 02: Intent

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copyright Moshe Ladanga 2009

copyright Moshe Ladanga 2009

What wills us to speak?

There has been a huge amount of scholarship devoted to the investigation of the origin of this particular intent, a phenomenon amongst all human activity. The creative will, if one experiences it, is as powerful as any of the fundamental desires.

To invent- that word has always been a favorite of mine, because it has a tinge of the salacious, of the slip. There are works of art that invent, and there are those that quite sadly only seek to re-make. There is a tremendous pleasure that people experience when confronted with the new, and also a unique joy in discovering something new in the familiar. For me, invention is a bit of both, and never exclusive to either ‘classification’ (art history etymology never really works for artists).

The reason why this is such a contentious thing now (especially here) is the loss of certainties brought about by an ever-expanding and complicated view of the world. I always thought theories were at best, well-informed attempts to understand things, not truth. Truth is an entirely  different animal, and it cannot be tamed ever, even by centuries of knowledge.

This is a tricky thing though; to actually tell an artist friend to clarify his or her intent almost always does more harm than good, but you can see it from a mile away. If the artist is simply ambitious for all things besides the thing, then, as we say in the Philippines, a rat is a rat is a rat. Be a good friend and play the fool. In short, don’t give out anymore cheese, haha!

But enough rhetoric- what I want to say is that intent is a private vocation for those who seek things that are bigger than they are, and the reason for the seclusion is that it is enough trouble as it is, and by keeping it close, we keep it manageable, safe. There still are things in this world that cannot be bought. But to clarify (as experience goes, with so many of my old friends), we are not so strong, and often too keen on proving we are clever enough for the game. I remember counseling a friend, brilliant chap, and he was trying to go back into real work after years in the industry. Funny thing was I expected that he wouldn’t have been able to be creative again, but the fire was still there. He didn’t really lose anything, except the clarity of intent.

In my own way, that’s what I’ve been avoiding. These past two years I’ve been protecting whatever artistic integrity I have left. But the knot tightens and ties itself in.¬† The strange thing about ivory towers is that they have only one purpose: to keep one thing. So, suffice to say, intent is one thing, but to make it real one has to step out and be brave.

Intent is the shape of will.

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Written by mosheladanga

August 30, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Originality

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reproduction prohibited 2008 (digital print ) Moshe Ladanga -all rights reserved-

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In the process of going over the drawings, jpegs, films and other media for the website, I started to think of what I was really trying to do with all of the stuff I would create. It’s easy to sift through your work when you are working in one medium, or if you have a particular theme, a focus in your practice. But with mine, I have always loved the thrill of the exploration, of experiment. Hence, the mess!

Being in such a rigorous research-led environment led me to take a look at this mess, and try to figure out if I’m trying to say something with all of these things. I was also wary of my own mind, treading carefully so that whatever innocent joy I had left won’t be at my own mercy, as I have this bad itch for deconstructing anything.

What I saw was quite simple; as much as I am passionate about different kinds of art, my creative practice reflects this love, and the reason behind the diversity is a personal refusal to let my mind decode whatever stirs in me that speaks only in tongues. I was reading this essay by Susan Sontag today, a comprehensive appraisal of Roland Barthes, and it struck me how Sontag sliced through all of the common intellectual tokenisms of his theories and revealed, through Barthes’ words themselves, the essence of his work. She said, as in all great works of art, there is always a succinct pleasure in the creative act, both from the author and the reader. And Barthes’ talent lies in the ingenious play between these two poles. Beyond the typical academic readings of Barthes (the author is dead…zzzz…), there is his sublime use of text as text, and the treatment of the textual as surface; it is far removed from the traditional semiotic understanding of text as having an interior meaning, but builds upon the modernist innovation of seeing meaning from the associations, connections, and ultimately, the aesthetic pleasure one experiences in that moment of lucidity, no matter how brief.

But this play on text as surface is not to be confused with the concept of materiality; this play is not a juvenile exercise, nor it is a rejection of the possibilities of the unknown, the suggestions of the unseen. It is a radicalism that is most subtle, a profoundly subversive hint. What I find quite depressing nowadays when I get to see contemporary art is the lack of craft, and by craft I mean in the way of Barthes, where there is a judicious and skillful play between meanings, a grace even in how things are juxtaposed, and artists now are so prone and given to a stilted and academic sense of poetry. Representation is well and alive yes, but in the Walter Benjamin kind of way, where ‘object-oriented’ art language reigns, where art is reproduction via research.

Sometimes when I see so many young and obviously talented artists take on the risk of entering the art world, I shudder, and I remember the time when I was making my first film, where the biggest scare was the void- the rule of experimental film is the blindfold, where language is invention.

Sometimes I wonder how did it turn out this way, with so much investment towards an empiricism of the aesthetic, this addiction to the ‘new’.

Sometimes I question the ‘questioning’, the turn of the creative practice to a critical one.

Look around and the world is changing. I get this feeling at times that all of these pieces of art will be worth nothing to me, for they beget nothing more than the passing fancy, traces of trends, or in the terms of cinema, a cunning form of documentary posing as fiction. But as of late, I have realized that it is useless to dig and find proof of the reason behind this current state, simply because the current state needs no explanation: it is too apparent to warrant even a bit of civil ambivalence.

What I want is freedom. In the Bacchus series of Cy Twombly in his Tate retrospective, you are engulfed by the sheer mastery of his language, and the freedom that he clearly enjoyed and the absolute certainty of his actions. He is one of the few masters today who does not pander to theoretical trends, and willfully and exhaustingly lays out the ‘way in’- his work doesn’t sit comfortably between viewer and idea, but engages you in its own terms, and is always brave enough to risk illegibility for the sake of honesty.

That is my reason I think I keep pursuing this idea (ideal? If it is still valid, then yes) of creativity, where instead of the concept hogging the klieg lights, it is desire I pull out of the shadows and strive to make something out of it.

Perhaps there is something we all missed when art became so popular and profitable, and I think it is the acknowledgment of the origins of whoever chooses to be an artist; some of us still believe in something, and were left unscathed by the postmodernist wave. I admit it is quite difficult to make art while being aware of the intellectual totems that are the standard already in today’s art world, but the question lurking behind all of this critical ‘plumbing’ is what is it all for?

This is the question that keeps me awake, confronts me on a blank page, taunts me on bouts of self-indulgence, and stirs and stirs all that I never had the guts to say into something tangible enough to create with.

Originality for me starts with this question, and the corresponding action is to shut the mind to all of the other voices so that I get to hear myself first; in today’s hyper/post-anything world, such an action cannot even be heroic (ah, I wish) but all the more necessary to survive.

Written by mosheladanga

August 19, 2008 at 3:30 PM