I have been trying to find, identify, and express the elements of my psyche that motivate my actions and ultimately control the trajectory of my life. My hope is that this internal knowledge will lead to an understanding of why we humans do what we do. In this series I have found that each element I uncover has an opposite polarity and I have been diligent in alloting equal time and integrity to each side of these coins. The most recent duality I have been living with is NASA vs. JAZZ. My previous post was about the NASA influence, but for the last three months I have pushed the pendulum over to Jazz.
This piece was a violent departure from the previous one. The gestural ribbon-like element was the first mark I made on this paper and I made it with a fistfull of charcoal powder and a loose arm swinging from the shoulder. I had come to see Jazz as NASA's opposite and was bucking the gridded symmetry, order, and discipline that NASA implied in favor of an organic, rythmical focus. I think of NASA and Jazz as hitting their high-water mark around the same time in the sixties when we were sending a man to the moon and Coltrane was doing what he did. Both NASA and Jazz are distinctly American phenomena and have begun their distillation through history to land with a grainy black and white nostalgia in the collective subconscious of this country. For me, NASA is the highest expression of academia, government, and the military, A.K.A the "system." Jazz, on the other hand, comes out of the African American experience, and is born of a need for self expression in the face of that "system" which is responsible for denying it. Jazz is not restricted to a black voice; it is an expression of humanity just as profound as the human quest for flight. I find Jazz at it's best when it acknowledges structure and composition and form and then dances right out of those shoes, dissolving the structure and smashing the forms and then picking them all up and making something totally new out of the rubble. Bird was amazing in that zone, but I find myself lining up most with the music of Thelonious Monk. He could plop a note down in the most precarious places and leave them there all alone and my ears aren't sure if they are going to keep balancing there or just drop off the edge of that table. I'm naming this piece "Monk" after him, but also because of the more overt implications of that word, referring to one who is committed to hearing the voice or song of God.