Riverside Art Museum Interview
What made you navigate toward your chosen artform/medium?
“I love music, poetry, and visual art as discreet disciplines, but for me, it’s very natural to sometimes combine them. Visually, words are often wonderfully strange kinds of objects—they can change their meaning and energy and color depending upon the kinds of arena in which they are presented. When combined with visual imagery properly, they can really start metamorphosizing. Or the other way around…the visual imagery starts getting affected by the words. I just like seeing and responding to this kind of dynamism. Combing poetry and music or music an visual information brings all of the same kinds of analogous dynamics into play.”
Who’s your biggest influence?
“As an artist, Shakespeare has affected me the most. For me, Shakespeare, as an aesthetic phenomenon, is endlessly rich from every angle of contemplation. The Shakespeare vision—or rather the artistic presentation of that vision—is overwhelming in all of the most positive ways. It encompasses the tragic, the comic, the earthly, and the refined. It is acutely perceptive, yet healthily detached and demonstrates a wisdom beyond any personal judgement. It is in touch with its audience and eager to entertain, yet it is never condescending. It is hyper-aware of the glories and terrors of personality and the inner self, and clear-eyed about social constructs and roles and all of the arbitrary misfortunes any human being is likely to face. It is celebratory, yet realistic about the bonds of friendship, family, and love. It seems to touch the limits of what can be done in art, yet miraculously, implies even more and is ultimately open-ended. In addition, I find it reasonable to surmise that Shakespeare, the person, was an affable fellow, an exciting collaborator, and he and his theatrical company seemed to have run a daily tidy business.”
Do you have a favorite work in the exhibit?
“It’s difficult to choose just one poem/image pair or more musical treatment because the nature the work is that each piece is a part of a whole and its function is to contribute to a whole effects, like choruses in a jazz solo or themes and variations in a symphony or cantos in an epic.
“However, I do especially like #19 because of the existential poise it attempts to convey. we exist within the great scheme of nature. The natural world is both beneficent an destructive—it is energy and process that doesn’t really care about our human drama and concerns. But we care. And it is how we celebrate, fear, avoid, or embrace our mortal situation.”
What do you hope the public will get out of your work?
“I would hope, upon first encountering this work, one would experience feeling of surprise and curiosity, and then a sense of exuberance and beauty. After a longer encounter, I hope one could feel that the work is filled with good will and a deep faith in existence.
“This work has its designs upon its audience, but it is also always pointing away form itself towards more sublime levels of feeling and perception—towards a category of justice and justification that every living thing has a right to claim, merely by being alive. I also hope one could sense, within the work, the belief that one’s own unique intuitions and perceptions and imaginational capabilities and basic sense of things have a quality of divinity about then and are worth fighting for.”
Why 33 1/3?
“In looking at 33 1/3 from he perspective of literary genres, one could place it into the category of epics, in the same sense that one might consider Whitman’s Sonf of Myself, Eliot’s The Waste Land, certain poems of English Romanticism, Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet as epics—at least as epics of consciousness, as dramatizations of the inner self and its heroic desire for sustained vision within a context of mortality and contingency in general.
“The series of 33 1/3 numbered poems was a choice in form to bring it into association with the 33 numbered cantos of each part of Dante’s epic, The Divine Comedy. Also, at least as the story has come down to us, Jesus was crucified in April, in the first third of his 33rd year of life. The poetry of 33 1/3 attempts to share in some of the themes that Jesus’ sayings and life story embody—mainly being willing to let go and metaphorically die to smaller, more petty concerns in order to be reborn into more magnificent realities. Finally, given that the work also exists as a piece of recorded music, 33 1/3 is also a reference to the rpm speed of the vinyl lp.”
How did you choose the style of music that went with poem-drawing?
“For the music, I wanted a wide-ranging palette of styles, textures, temps, an atmospheres. Beyond that, it was just having an initial intuition about what might be a good match and seeing how well it started working. Sometimes the hunch would evolve perfectly. Other times, it would require many different attempts and approaches. Additionally, the whole thing had to have good pacing and flow, and this sometimes dictated doing different music for apiece that was working well on its own.”