Note: This post is part of a week-long series from guest editor Lindsay Anne Watson. Lindsay makes sad funnies in Portland, Oregon. She is the author and illustrator of I Don't Need Eyes, published in 2016 by Tiny Splendor. Her work can be seen at lindsayannewatson.space.
How does the creation of these things affect your day to day life? And how does it make you feel at night?
The creation of these things stands in opposition to my day to day life. I have an idea, maybe when I wake up and I just think about it during the day. Sometimes I don’t live my day I just live that moment until I realize the idea which is kind of sad?—If I’m not able to sit down and make it right then, that is. A lot of what I make in art is about immediacy. If I let something sit for too long then it doesn’t feel right. It’s mushy. So, if I have an idea in the morning and I wait until night to code it then I’m probably not going to like it. I erase most of what I make. Most are these little personal, mushy, not-exactly-its that I collect because not making the thing was never an option but giving something not-exactly-right to the world seems wrong.
At night I’ll wake up and feel anxious about the coded art thing. I’ll think maybe the code wasn’t readable or the art in it wasn’t readable. Maybe the art wasn’t a pure expression of that moment but something manufactured based off of what I thought was good about other pieces or based off of what i thought other people thought was good about other pieces. This is a trope—right—but the art that I think sometimes is not-it at night; the art that worries me the most; that I force myself to give away to an audience that art is often what the audience responds with the most enthusiasm. So, I worry at night. I worry that my art is being mistaken for me.
Do you make them as a way of understanding things that already exist, or so that there is something new to be understood?
I don’t understand things that already exist. That answer is a little embarrassing for me to say so I feel like I trust it the most. But that misunderstanding is why I make what I make. I think a lot of artists experience something in the world that they think is extraordinary and want to tweeze out whatever beautiful golden twine holds it together but that’s not me. I don’t think my art can take away or add to what is already there. I don’t think that my art changes anything in the world. It helps me feel less scared. I make a lot of simulations. Simulations of a real thing. Ants. A tattered cloth blowing in a window seal. Birds drinking nectar and the nectar disappearing and reappearing. I wouldn’t make simulations if i thought I understood the things that already existed, but I wouldn’t make simulations if there wasn’t some part of me that felt a mastery over that. That felt that I understood what a tattered cloth blowing in a window seal felt like for me and that I could approximate that feeling in my world and invite you into that world.
What makes a moment worth recording and manipulating?
When I record something its usually because I love the people I am with in that moment and I want an excuse to focus on them. Maybe I’ll already have an idea and then I think, well, this love that I feel for these people in this moment is going to make this recording and determine how I manipulate the footage. More than anything I want the manipulation to be an explanation of that moment for someone that can never experience that love. Does that sound fucked up? Its probably a little perverse, theres the intimacy of the moment and that’s what I’m trying to artificially exaggerate. Its artificial not because its inauthentic or a video manipulation like their skin is made into the tide of a sea or whatever but its artificial because its trying to describe something that was only felt in that moment. Its also hard for my friends, because I’ll be askingthem to participate in these ideas of how I experience our time together and I’m not sure they get it or I’m worried that they get it and they are weary of it and I feel selfish but then I think, “oh, of course I’m selfish because art creation is the most selfish thing.”
Noland Chaliha is a programmer and some kind of digital wizard based in Portland, Oregon.