So I've been building an urban ruin in my backyard. What started out as a single building and the exploration of the devolution has become a sprawling dead city hidden among the branches of my overgrown fenced in yard.
As the project has progressed, its gone through a number of conceptual phases.As I said, the original intent was a single urban ruin that would be placed outside and photographed periodically to show how it decays over time in nature.
As I neared the completion of the first building I began to consider using my small backyard to add other buildings. Then the concept changed. While it would still be a look at decay and nature, I decided perhaps I should introduce a more surreal aspect to it.
It was too good of an opportunity to not explore surrealism while at the same time exploring urban decay.
But as I continued with the building process, there was this nagging feeling that I've grown to trust and listen to. When I get this feeling it usually indicates I am not quite on the right track of a project.
Now this is important. One of the most important skills an artist can learn is to trust themselves when something doesn't feel right.
Most artists stop at this point and either put the project aside or keep on going on it. The result may still be good art, but there may be a spark that's missing because you did not listen. Rarely does the artist stop in mid-stride and say, okay. There is something wrong and I need to investigate till I find it.
I continued to build and add to the setting, but still with the thought that I needed to be watching for something else. What was I missing?
Any piece of art, or series of art must have at least a basic direction to take the viewer. Even abstract art still tells the viewer to release preconceived notions and flow with the art itself. "Abstraction" is its underlying message.
Until this point the underlying message of this series had been "urban decay/nature". Then it shifted to "urban decay/surrealism".
Then I realized that what was bugging me was that the series needed more emotional impact. I've worked with surrealism for a very long time now. What my mind was suggesting was stepping away from surrealism for the moment and concentrate on the message.
What emerged was quite different from what I originally intended. I sat down and I placed surrealism to the back. How and what should be the new message. And then I had it.
This is a dead city. There are no people anymore. But those that lived within it left messages behind in the form of graffiti, signage, and a whole host of other ways. Messages left to say "I was here and this is what I fought for".
So I sat down with one of the test images and I let my mind wander about messaging.
To my surprise, this is what came from it.
I realized when I had completed it that it incorporated three distinctly different concepts. Urban Decay is obvious. There was no change from my original goal. Surrealism was most definitely there still, but instead of being light and full of color, this was dark and gritty with a stark realism to it. But now there was a third element. "Graffiti" which carried the messages of what happened in this dead city.
The feeling was gone. I knew for sure that I had found the missing piece for the series. The dead city had left its messages behind to give us the viewer enlightenment into what happened.
But there was reality here to our own situation in the world right now. The message hits an emotional edge that many of us are feeling around the world at this moment in time and what we fear could happen if the world spins out of control.
Now this project takes on different significance. The messages of a dead world become paramount to its success as a series of art. This means considering new angles for the base photography, making sure the messages are well founded in the reality of the present and that new components to the city must be created in order to give the messages a place to reside.
But now I can continue without feeling I was partially blind. This is important to the artist. Its alright to function in a vacuum for a time. This brings about innovation and new ideas. But once the concept is fully etched out the real work begins.
Now it truly begins. Everything before it was merely playing until the subconscious was ready to tell me what the hell it wanted.
My hope that your projects hold meaning for you and make you better artists.