Experience (in my art)

I have been saying that my current work is about the “experience” and narrative/story and all that jazz. It came to me recently that I now know what kind of experience it is.

In video games (and table top games) you(r) character gains experience the more more you play it. Some games show a physical bar for your character’s experience–an experience bar. Typically, you can experience from killing things, achieving goals, finding secrets, etc. When your experience bar fills, your character goes up a level. When you level, stats increase and you gain new skills–you gain knowledge. With higher stats, new skills, and new knowledge you are able to progress in the game–you get to continue the story.

In my work, viewers gain experience while looking at my work and learning about my story. The more they learn from their experience, the more they learn about my story and the more they can progress throughout the installation.

The Display Case

“Put a hat on a shelf (or worse in a box) and no one will notice it. Put that same hat in a display case and suddenly everyone wants to know its story!”

I took this quote directly from a website that specializes in selling display cases for the home. For some strange reason I am having trouble finding the exact link but it does exist somewhere on the internet.

As quirky as it is, I really like this quote. Not because it has great, meaningful depth and will change the way I live my life… well, I guess it could… I like it because it’s true to my collections and my art.

Some of you may know that I have had unhealthy collecting problems. There was a point in time where I seemed to have bought everything that shared air with the 1990’s. I love video games, movies, toys, board-games, and electronics from the 90’s. It is a dream of mine to one day have a basement or large enough room to create a micro video rental store. It would definitely exist to feed my nostalgia monster but it would also serve to display all my cool stuff from the 80s and 90s. Though I do not own anything that is worth butt-loads of money, I do own things that mean a lot to me. For example, the copy of Steven Spielberg’s Hook that I own on VHS is being held together by tape. Is it worth anything? Absolutely not–you could buy it at a thrift store for pennies… But this torn up copy is mine from my childhood and I wouldn’t trade, sell, or throw it away for anything. I remember watching it over and over as a young lad and, to be perfectly honest, I put it on just about every time I’m working in my studio. It’s like a brother to me. My copy of Hook would get its own display case in my special room and be a conversation piece.

As for my art, the display case serves an identical purpose–to emphasize personal value and to protect to objects within. My current series of work consists of found objects (artifacts) that are displayed in vitrines and in glass cases. The items themselves tell a narrative of my creation based in the city of Littlefork in Minnesota during the decade of the 90’s. The vitrines do exactly what the quote promises–I put ordinary objects in a display case and suddenly everyone wants to know its story! Well… I at least hope they do…

Myself in My Art

I recently came across a series of videos by Pixar Animation Studios titled Pixar in a Box. This particular series was titled The Art of Storytelling. The introduction video stated that humans naturally tell stories–which is absolutely true. Since the beginning of the human existence, we’ve been verbally sharing tales with one another. Story telling is a powerful thing. It has the ability to connect people on an emotional level. 

My favorite part of the video was when the host talked about what to write about. He said to write what you know–write about monsters, explosions, and car chases… but put something in it that talks about your own life, and how you feel… That something will make that story come alive and not just be a boring car chase.

To me, the 1990’s was the golden age for everything; video games, cartoons, movies, toys, music… Maybe I’m bias because this decade raised me into who I am today. A third of my life was spent in this glorious decade and though I love where it brought me I still think about how much simpler it was back then and how much easier it seemed and how much fun it was. I know the 90’s and basing my story in this decade is a way for me to be in my narrative. The 90’s is my explosion, my car chase. 

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