Thursday, November 8, 2007

Apathy and Atari

From time to time a strange sort of apathy washes over me. Its personification could be a giant who follows me around all day repeating, "Why paint, why paint, why paint..."
In some ways its hard to argue. What is painting? What do I do when I paint? In the most basic sense, I spread colored goo on a flat surface to create some sort of image. Sounds pretty stupid! Add to that the fact that to do it well is extremely difficult and also that only a tiny percent of the population of earth might be interested at looking at the finished paintings. What am I doing?
Perhaps I can count on my friends for support. Only problem is that most of them agree with the giant. In fact I could imagine some of them prompting the giant. Perhaps if he got tired, they'd poke him and remind to say his endless quote. Some of my friends really don't understand painting!
If this is not already comical, its about to get there. I have a friend who is totally confused by my art and painting in general. It makes no sense to his brain. That is not to say he's not supportive, he realizes I have talent and is proud of me for pursuing it. But he just doesn't understand painting and I can't figure out how to explain it to him. It got to the point that I decided that he wasn't an aesthetic kind of guy. And then he fell in love with Atari. Whenever I go to his house he wants to play Atari 2600. He found his old 2600 about a year ago and fixed it up. Turns out there is a community of retro gamers, so he can get advice on how to fix things and purchase old Atari games to play.
Why do I bring this up? He loves Atari! In a very aesthetic way. I've never heard him talk about color before. Now when I go over to his house and we turn on Atari he's always exclaiming how "hot" games look. He talks aesthetically about everything Atari. The color combos and changes, the shapes, the sounds. It's all a magic wonderland for him. And it extends to hardware, too! He loves how his Atari looks. It is unnessecarily huge (it only has a small chip and a few electrical components in it) and has fake wood paneling. He loves how the controllers look and how they feel. He's crazy about certain cartridges. Each company had its own cartridge design for its games, and my friend has them ranked based first on aesthetic appeal, but also on practical satisfaction.
The punchline is that when I tried to explain why I like and do art to him by incorporating his sharp Atari aesthetic, he sort of had an epiphany, like he never could have made the connection between the way he sees the formal elements and beauty of Atari and how I see art himself. But he still doesn't understand art. Maybe he understands me a little more, but it didn't help with art.
Tomorrow I'll probably wake up and the giant will be totally gone. I'll just be happy to have the opportunity, skill and desire to paint. I'll be happy about the chance to have someone look at my art and be glad they did. Still, its tough when you have to compete with Atari!

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