Media Creation as Research


First things first: I’m a musician, a writer, an interdisciplinary artist. As much as my head wants to be a full-time street activist yet again (read: typically broke, frequently in jail, almost always at risk, positives notwithstanding), the reality is that the process of making art across multiple disciplines as a critically engaged practice is more than enough, both in the “real world” and within the confines of academia alike.

Some of the things on my mind of late:

  • What does it mean to make art in a serious fashion anymore?
  • What does a liberated definition of cultural ownership (aka intellectual property) look like?
  • Why is it so incredibly difficult to find a range of texts exploring this in a contemporary fashion?
  • Why is it that some of the best books on the subject were written decades ago?
  • In terms of privilege, why is it that when someone contemporary does get work published in this regard, they’re frequently white?
  • Who are my contemporaries who are taking the process of making art as a form of research seriously? Do they teach? Do they not teach? If so, where? If so, why? What obstacles and forms of institutional support and encouragement are they encountering? Do they work independently of performance-based programs and/or practitioners?
  • Should I ditch the entire idea, and live in a van full time? While I have seriously thought about this – free to cheaper rent, the ability to be anywhere, perform anywhere, teach anywhere – the package as a whole is not quite as tempting as I originally thought it might be, fond-and-sometimes-contentious memories of touring notwithstanding.

Books that are presently helping me through this process:

  • The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, Anna Anthropy
  • Decomposition: A Music Manifesto, Andrew Durkin
  • Creative Life, Bob Ostertag
  • Writings on Music, 1965 – 2000, Steve Reich

In the “to read” queue:

  • Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker
  • Meta/Data, Mark Amerika
  • The Most Radical Gesture, Sadie Plant
  • Art and Technics, Lewis Mumford
  • Dialectics of Enlightenment, Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno

People whose work is providing inspiration:

  • Don DeLillo
  • Anna Deavere Smith
  • Steve Reich
  • Bob Ostertag
  • Tuxedo Moon
  • Janelle Monae
  • Matmos
  • Kathy Acker
  • Julio Cortazar

Books and essays that have helped me in the past:

  • Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Empire, Gregory Sholette
  • A Room of One’s Own (essay), Virginia Woolf
  • Theory of the Dérive (essay), Guy Debord
  • The Waves, Virginia Woolf
  • Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen
  • Mercurochrome, Wanda Coleman
  • The California Poem, Eleni Sikelianos
  • Iduna, kari edwards
  • The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan
  • Kindred, Octavia Butler

“Living the artist’s life” books (for insights regarding my creative process and workflow):

  • The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp
  • The Renaissance Soul, Margaret Lobenstine
  • Creating a Life Worth Living, Carol Lloyd

More thoughts and such as I process this through a bit more. <3 and shout-out to @codemesh, @librarianshipwreck and @tinyfist for thoughts, recommendations and support.