Tuesday, May 6, 2014

And now I shall say nothing more...

I recently came across an interview with actor Bryan Cranston where he commented on fame vs: acting. Among other insights he said that ever since he was 25 he had been making a living -  as and actor-  without ever having to do anything else. As far as he was concerned that was the pinnacle of success. The fact that he could continue to do what he loved made all other factors (fame, money, even recognition) irrelevant.

Many  artists don't make a living doing what inspires them, yet they continue all the same. There certainly are as many factors for this as there are people. In some cases artists don't even try to make a living or get paid for their "work. In others, attempts to do so don't work out. In almost all the cases where someone continues to create- with or without external encouragement - it's because they truly get their reward from the process itself.  It didn't need to be labeled and commodified but the whole "outsider art" movement is based on people with little or no formal training who create, seemingly in a vacuum, simply because they feel inspired to.

Then there are true artists like Eliane Radigue. She has formal training but it didn't come easy. She was a pioneer that most people never heard of . She knew exactly what she heard in her "mind's ear" and set out with her tools and determination to make it a reality.

I came across this fantastic documentary of her recently and believe it not only illustrates the intricacies of using a modular synthesizer (in this case the Arp 2500) but also show how these boxes are instruments and how and artist creates with one.  I've often used the terms "aural sculpture when trying to explain how modular synthesists  carve an piece from various sounds and sequences so I found it especially refreshing to see Mademoiselle Radigue mention the building of her sound is literally done in pieces within a frame of sound "like an architect who needs a scaffolding". She also explains that she uses scores and timing to perform her pieces. So much electronic music is done free form and improvised we tend to forget one can approach it with the same discipline and skill set as a classical composer.

Radigue describes taking months or even years to create a piece painstakingly building and taking away elements until it matched the piece in her head. She mentions how she spent ten years away from electronic composition and then when she returned she took another three months throwing out every conventional sound she knew until a tiny scrap of sound came to light and then, Voila! she built on that.

This kind of dedication (some might call obsession) can be found among all cultures and generations of artists. We are fortunate to have such an eloquent example to learn from and, most of all, enjoy.