There was an interesting article in Volkskrant where Femke Halsema was stepping in for
the usual TV reviewer (don't know his name) and reviewed the TV programs of the day, she apologized for
not being so knowledgeable about TV as him and wrote a nice review of BBC's Top Gear show.
It was a good review, but nothing spectacular.
But what made me think was this apology for not knowing so much about TV as the specialist.
That REALLY opened up my eyes, according to Maurice de Hond Dutch people watch on average
3 hours of TV a day, how come we are not ALL TV specialists.
The reason I remembered this was that I would always tell my art students, that it is VERY
important to create an addiction with your art practice, so that you get soooo sucked into the proccess,
that you automatically go to your studio or laptop or whatever.
I basically believe that love and passion is something that you can create in yourself for art or music
(maybe not for persons), but if you don't love art it is usually because you have been misinformed or not informed at all
and that is my basic working hypothesis. Because with music and art..."to know me (Art & Music) is to love me"...
I say this because I speak from my OWN experiences, I didn't always love art and music, you WORK on it.
To GET you need to GIVE!!!
But back to the Femke Halsema argument...
I always used to tell my students
"If you can create that addiction to your own practice you will walk around with the energy of a speed freak
and then AUTOMATICALLY you will get good at what you do"... and
I use this argument because it worked for ME...I am not a very discplined person.
If I HAVE to do something I don't like very much, I can keep it up 3 weeks maximum.
BUT...I am a very PASSIONATE person, so if I fall in love with collecting records, I will travel
all over the world to find the record I am looking for, or with art, when I GET INTO something,
you can't drag me out with 4 elephants, from the OUTSIDE, it might look like I am a very disciplined art guy,
but in fact I am totally NOT ( I am generally very lazy),
it's just that I am having the time of my life, thereby SIDESTEPPING discipline.
I guess this story tells more about me, than about my students maybe,
But I can only give them what worked for ME and hope that there are some nuggets
of wisdom in there that someone else also can relate to...
BUT what was missing in this theory was the TV argument....
There are tons of things we do daily...eating, shitting, showering, watching TV, that we just DO NOT get any better at.
It doesn't take much care, passion or involvement from us either, it is done on auto pilot!
We have managed to cultivate a certain addiction, and we spend hours, weeks, years and lives doing it,
but there is just NO learning curve involved, no development or improvement.
Just DOING something is not good enough, if it is not connected to some kind of focus or research.
I would also go so far as to say that this is where depressions can come into our lives, if there is nothing challenging
happening, if it is all just a BIG slur.
If we can live our lives on auto pilot it get's stagnant.
And I guess this is also the reason people take cooking classes or study Spanish (or go to Rietveld in some cases)
or what ever. To wake up the brain from the slur of the everyday life.
In ALL of us there is this cooconing gene, that wants to make life simpler and more controllable,
but if it gets TOO controlled, we get ourselves in trouble again...
But this is another debate!
You can watch tons of TV and still it will remain something that does not take you further, or develops your taste or persona in any way.
Of course THIS is not a revolutionary idea, that TV might make you slow, but it makes me
understand certain principles of the mind , that was missing in my theory before.
I think the key danger here is relaxation. If you use something for relaxation, there is very little development,
of course you also have a lot of people using painting for relaxation, the Bob Ross school of thought,
and I don't want to diss people who uses TV or painting for relaxation.
But there is a time for relaxation and there is a time for ACTION!
But I now see what the problem is with that attitude, also in MY case...I need to be aware.
Often when I sit and play with my synths (or facebook), it is pure relaxation, and again there is nothing wrong with relaxation
But I don't think that that is how you make great art or music.
You need to watch out for the relaxation and make sure the focus is also there,
otherwise it is just a surrogate for watching bad TV.
There is of course also good TV, so I use the idea of TV here in my argument for the more
mind numbing qualities that I think we are all familiar with.
So what I am really talking about here is NOT painting or TV per se (or what ever). It is not TV in itself.
It is the abuse of TV, just like you can enjoy a fine glass of beer OR abuse 23 bottles of wine.
You need to find an art practice that keeps you on your toes and keeps challenging yourself, just being in the studio everyday,
is in that sense not enough, so I thank Femke Halsema for giving me this missing link in my ever expanding theory about how to become more creative...
PS...I totally believe that you CAN become a sophisticated TV specialist (like the Volkskrant reviewer)
who have researched the history of TV and can name
all the BBC presentators and write essays on HBO and so on...But the interesting fact here IS....wait for it...
Just watching TV (or paint) passively 3, 4 even 11 hours a day won't take you there...and THIS fact is very interesting.
Especially in these times of right wing populism and the STRONG winds of anti intellectualism that
are now blowing in our new Holland.
By this I mean the sentiments of people like Halbe Zijlstra "culture should make you feel good"
(not a correct quote word by word, but in spirit).
For non Dutch people...Zijlstra is the new Dutch minister of culture (and science & education)!
Yes I am serious, it is NOT a joke!
He IS the new minister of culture ( we Dutch also laugh...or we chuckle ,
outright laughter is made impossible by the small pieces of shame and BIG chunks of fear in out throats and hearts).
And anti Intellectualism has ALWAYS been the order of the day in America, in Detroit it is no different,
maybe even stronger here.
And it is one of the LEAST attractive features of USA, a country who I otherwise really love and respect.
Will publish another text related to populism vs intellectualism/elitism later...
Clarifications for non Dutch people...
Femke Halsema used to be the leader of the Green Party in Holland.
Maurice de Hond...has an institute that does polling reports on opinions and habits of the Dutch.
Volkskrant is the New York Times of Holland.
Rietveld is the best art academy in the country BA and MA (via Sandberg). where...
unlike some academies in the USA you do NOT pay 36 000 $ a year, but around 4 000 € ( less for EU members).