Wednesday, September 16, 2009
a few days of Rumble-- an interview w/ Ken Rumble regarding Cliffs [ ] his new art installation
the next few blog posts will be a series of Q & A w/ Ken Rumble[poet, artist, musician, all-around rad dude]inspired by his upcoming art installation at "the Space," a former garage / warehouse space just off the skirt of downtown Durham. the show is up and ready to investigate this Friday at 715 Washington starting at 7:30 pm, rain or shine. maybe you'll learn more about it before that time rolls in... here's the first exchange....
kate pringle: hey ken, cliffs [ ] is up Friday... can you tell me a little about the project and how it has evolved?
Well, the project is a time- & place- specific piece that I conceived in relation to the musical projects I've been working on with several local folks and our acquisition of this enormous, 2400 sq ft, very raw, studio space. The music we (Chris Vitiello, Meg Stein, Tony Tost, Brian Howe, Ashley Howe, and myself) play is largely improvisational and atmospheric. We have several loosely organized groups/bands, but we don't really have much/any aim to present those projects in any kind of conventional music-venue type way, so thinking about how to present that music live led me to the idea of Cliffs (Empty).
In terms of evolution -- mostly it's been logistical evolutions. The idea really came to me pretty fully formed. So the changes have been the result of availability of materials, the literal geography of the studio space, time, ability, etc.
But the basic idea hasn't changed much.
pringle: well, let's back up then. what is the basic idea behind Cliffs (Empty) or cliffs [ ]? [should i just use the blip from yr fb announcement and then give you a different question? sorry. and. DUH kate.]
rumble: Well, I can't really say that there is an idea behind Cliffs (Empy) (though I rather like the Cliffs () construction too btw -- hadn't thought of that).
I struggle a lot actually with the idea of there being ideas behind things -- it just really irks me; I want to create things that are things in and of themselves -- not really divisible, not summarizable -- artifacts/experiences that have to be experienced and communicate the conscious act and experience.
This irritation has a lot to do with my work on the poetry piece 24 Hour Breakfast. I began to be really frustrated with language and by extension poetry because there was (at least from critics, from a readerly perspective) some idea about what a work might be about, that there was something "inside" the work to be "discovered." These ideas are of course rooted in the idea that language is a conveyor of information -- a box into which one puts meaning and sends out to someone else for interpreting, for understanding, so that they can get the "meaning" "contained" in the "words."
I wanted to create something beyond (forgive the spatial metaphors) that, create something that was indivisible and contentless for which no interpretation, "unpacking" was really necessary. Which is not to say that I wanted to create something so simple that "anyone could understand it" -- I really just wanted to break down a whole convention about thinking about language. It's a project that many (most) writers are engaged in (perhaps that's ironic?) and certainly the writers I love are engaged with that.
So visual and performing arts for me have become very attractive because -- while there's still the critical language surrounding those disciplines about "understanding" and "meaning" -- objects, colors, sounds, etc. are (I think) so much more concrete (a blender is a blender) and abstract (what does G sharp mean??)
The idea behind Cliffs (Empty) is to make something cool/interesting. If there's a reference point for me, it's the experience I had as a child of crawling through racks of clothing at department stores.
I know, of course, that people experiencing the work will likely interpret it in various different ways and that it will "mean" various things to various people -- and all that is fine and unavoidable. I do it with other's artwork all the time. It's really just that as an artist, as a creator -- I didn't want to start with some "idea" that I wanted to "communicate." If I had an idea like that, why not just write it down? I hope Cliffs (Empty) cannot be easily summarized.
On the other hand, part of my motivation for the piece comes from ideas I have about art, experience, music, geography, people, etc., so I'm reacting/thinking about a lot of different things, but those thoughts don't create in me an idea but rather inform this work which I largely think of as an experiment (like most of my work), so "what if I do......" is kind of the way this piece came together.