Friday, June 11, 2010

Silences in the studio

I’m contemplating different kinds of inactivity, the shifting species of silences that *momentarily absorb me.
Yesterday, I wanted to write a plan of attack. To draw a map, if you will, for a project I’ve long put aside. I’m often drawn to the notion of placing ideas, images, narratives, on a map. Time lines are great too, but maps have added dimension. When I think about placing things on a map, or—more appropriately—in a space, I think of method of loci, the ancient Greeks dropping small sections of their speeches along a well-walked path so that all they had to do was imagine walking along that path, to find the bits of memory emerge slowly, and form a whole.

Through this past winter and spring, with all their leaves gone, I drew trees. Branches are like a million pathways arching out. But since the leaves are back, I’m faced with too much complexity. I try to group them into sections, according to the branch they’ve sprouted from, or according to how much light they’re reflecting, but I’m mesmerized by the way each individual leaf cuts through my ability to see what’s behind it. The tree isn’t just that amazing structure I tried to draw in the winter, it’s also the path memorized by the Greeks, it’s the sum of the map I want to draw for my forgotten projects, it’s everything at once, and it pulls me into moments of silence.

*When I say momentarily, the moment can extend through meal times and coffee breaks, into getting ready for bed, dreaming. Sometimes the moment (the silence) wakes up just before me, and whispers that I should wake up too, and join it for another day of fruitless pondering.