Instaesthetic: Machine made poetry & cosmic selfies
The instaesthetic is in flux. There is no set definition, it is up to us to set the perimeter for this concept. To me it is about instant gratification as an artist. I see the instaesthetic as a quick self-soothing art process that creates fast results in the form of visual ecstasy. I think it is easy, convenient and perhaps a little masterbatory-- excessively self-absorbed and self-indulgent. Make something that feels good to your eyes and make it right now in this moment. Do it.
Each of the images I produced for this project took on this instant gratification quality. There is an element of serendipity, which is already integrated into my art practice, exploited for this project. As is the case with a lot of my work these images started with poetry. I have been collecting words and phrases taken from two specific sources for a few years. I am in the habit of cutting out poetic phrases from Science magazines like National Geographic and Wired in addition to feminine hype magazines like Glamour. I collect the snippets in small photo books until I need to feed them into one of my various generative poetry machines. That is where the magic happens and the words find their fate.
The time for these words came. I put several chunks of paper, words and phrases, into the machine and let it do its thing. It produced eight short poems I then photographed directly on top of the white dryers from the laundromat where I spent the day working. The poems were an act of mechanized fate. I chose the words and phrases sporadically over the course of the last 3 years, and as was their destiny they were pulled from the pile by the hands of the machine and articulated into sets of lyrics. It is certainly their destiny, and mine.
Once the poetry was established I let my phone pull up the most recent selfies, which it established on its on through the algorithms of face recognition software. I began the next process which is also essential in my art practice and an already established mandatory habit. I played. I played with layering the poems with the selfies and a favorite element which has proven time and time again to bring about instant visual gratification... images of the cosmos, our origins, my origins, a favorite visual destination.. right? I play with the cosmos, they are my playground. I am satisfied.
Play is about as instantly gratifying as it gets. Maybe it is our first avenue for instant self gratification, we learn to play with ourselves and others from such an early age and this feels good, it feels good instantly. So I played with my poetry, I played with my selfies, and I played with appropriated images of the cosmos. I acted swiftly, and carelessly, fearlessly, shamelessly, and I took risks because that is how you really get your hands genuinely dirty in play. I did what felt good, what looked good and I didn't give my actions a deeper thought beyond that instant visual pleasure. It felt tremendous. Play feels tremendous.
This is not new ground for me, this is how things are done in my studio, I stick things together with imaginary rules, and then I break those rules just to feel the tingly pleasure that inherently comes with breaking the rules. I work fearlessly without a care of whether the art will be good, or accepted and the thought of selling it or even assigning it a fiscal value never enters my mind, because in this state I am as natural and free as a child and I don't care about the things we've been taught matter. I don't care about money or success, not in the state of the instaesthetic. These things don't even exist to me here in the blissful glee of poetry, selfies and the cosmos.
So maybe I fuss over the images a bit. I wrestle with myself but not over concept or context, but over what color combination makes me feel most excited, and about whether my eyes themselves prefer pink over blue or a total smash of the two into ultraviolet purple. I like my face, I like to look at the fleshy thing that contains my ghost, the thing that people use to distinguish me from the rest. I like to see it in these colorful and surreal compositions. This feels good, to me this is fun, it is pleasing and I make more images than I even need, because I am just enjoying the flow in this process. I am in the zone!
Sometimes I really like working in a selfish manner, making things that are only to please myself. This is what the instaesthetic means to me, total and complete disregard for the future, for the tastes of others, or for any thought deeper than indulgence into stimulating shapes, colors and unformed ideas. Yes, this feels good, it feels good right now and I don't really care what happens beyond this point... because the instaesthetic is all about feeling good right now, and I can assure you my art kin folks, my eyes feel good right now.