On the street, in a car, I honk honk honk.

My mom has begged me to get a drivers license for years, trying all arguments. “You’ll get a better job” she’d say. “It’s a grown up thing to do” she’d say. “Think of all the bitches and respect your pimp ride would get!” she’d say.

Finally, with the assistance and company of my brother, I’ve found myself at a two weeks intensive driver ed in Eskiltuna, a small city south-west of Stockholm. We were driving from day one, jaded instructors at our side ready to push their own set of pedals should we lose control.

It’s not as scary as I imagined. Apart from not having a proper reason to get a drivers license, I’ve had this constant fear of killing someone – even if it wouldn’t have been my own fault. The thought has struck me that I should become a train driver – work in that field long enough and you’ll run over someone by no fault of your own – and I wouldn’t have to worry, having gotten it done. Not the self-affirming thinking I’ve heard so much about.

Me and my brother have had ten classes the past week, and on thursday I was out on the autobahn. I didn’t know you were allowed up there as a student. This is partly because I’ve been handed buckets of advise from people which have turned out to be guano inaccurate. Andy: it is perfectly legal to cross your hands when turning.

There’ve been two students sleeping at the place other than me and Tomasz. Both are ten years our juniors and see drivers license as something obvious. I guess they had mopeds at fifteen and a car is a natural progression?

My brother was told that the gear should be handled gently, “like a 30 kilo woman.” How do you answer such advice? “Oh, like stearing someones ejaculating cock away from your clothes, you mean?” Nobody wants to be the politically correct bore, so maybe being annoying in another direction would be good? Make people uncomfortable? I don’t know.

There’s a pretty river flowing through the city, and the old buildings are nice, but it’s a small place and it shows. Boring, but perfect for what we are there for. There are few distractions and little to do except study and drive around, and apart from watching the news in the evening we’re in bed early.

My instructor is patient and pedagogical. He’s been doing this since 1994 and has five whip-lash injuries to prove it. From time to time I hear his sardonical voice, with this weird local accent, “theeeeeere you missed an aJOIning streeeet.”

I’ve stalled more than a few times, and in a “learning by doing wrong” moment I had to wait for someone to show up behind me at a sensor-activated light; I had forgotten the clutch, and thereby missed the window of opportunity for passing the light. Since I wasn’t allowed to reverse on this road, I waited for five minutes before someone showed up behind and activated the green light again, and Pelle used the time to check for incoming messages about his wife pregnancy and was repeating “use the clutch, use the gas, we’re never getting out of here” over and over. It was fun.

Since neither me nor my brother have much previous experience of driving, we’ve taken an extended course and are going back come monday. Gonna do the skid-test on thursday, and see how many more hours the instructors think we need before we’d pass an official test.

Until then I’m in Stockholm, trying to get more well. I thought I had licked the cough, but it’s gotten worse and is now accompanied by two infected ear canals. Classy timing body, real classy. Went to the quack this afternoon and got some prescription antibiotics and cough-syrop. The syrop might have side-effects that will impair driving, so let’s just hope that I’ll be healthy and bloody good before I go back again.

Laptop. Beers. Book. And art.

This is from the introduction to a book that covers the world of contemporary art quite well. In the making: Creative Options for Conemporary Art, edited by Linda Weintraub. Even though what is said is general and non-specific, it still describes the art world of today quite well as I understand it:

“Today’s artists typically meet in cafes and then return to their studios where one may plug into a bank of computers while the other sorts scavenged debris and a third sketches the origins of the universe. The work of one may ponder eternity, the other may instigate political protest, and the third may conjure futuristic fantasies. Art-making has become so inclusive that even the manners of being innovative have proliferated.

Only some precedent-defying artists expel cherished traditions. Others may innovate by rejecting the assumption that originality is a hallmark of great art.This assumption is so widespread that artists who preserve historic styles can also be labeled as rebels. Thus, contemporary art embraces the maverick and the traditionalist.

No topic, no medium, no process, no intention, no professional protocols, and no aesthetic principles are exempt from the field of art. Also missing are preexisting standards, predetermined measures of success, and ready-made definitions of art. Such artistic license grants to artists an exceptional opportunity.

They are free to originate new cultural possibilities. Indeed, they are uniquely unencumbered by methods, rules, and requirements. As such, they are our culture’s “free radicals,” constitutionally primed to disrupt states of equilibrium and initiate change.

This expanded domain of art production can be traced to a broader cultural circumstance. Local customs of all kinds are being pummeled by the incursions of competing traditions from around the globe and across the spans of time. Imported cultures pervade books, television, exhibitions, music, home furnishings, cuisines, advertisements, health care, college curricula, religious practices, and the Internet. Each augments the stockpile of artistic prototypes.

Some local artistic traditions are malleable and accommodate new influences. Others become hopeless misfits and succumb to obsolescence. Artistic responses to this mixing and matching of cultural traditions range from decrying the contamination of cultural pedigrees to welcoming the rich diversity they afford. Both responses demonstrate that the artistic models are no longer limited to artists’ ancestors and their places of birth.

Being a “traditional” artist now requires choosing from a profusion of cultural options, all available for adaptation in part, in combination, or in their entirety.”

The problem with art for me is a personal one rather than a conceptual: What the hell are you supposed to do if you can do whatever you want? The beauty of doing and working with art is that you can do literally anything you like and present it as art. This is a good thing™. You can use all the intellectual tools at your disposal to dissect any question you’d like, and if you appreciate your audiences’ knowledge you can be quite sublime about it. What you are doing is never understood as the whole work, but rather is seen in a context – a context that you as an artist are either supposed to be aware of, or one that you will be shoehorned into.

One useful thing that deconstruction brought to the surface was that art was forced to bring in everything into it’s description. Every tangential circumstance of what you are doing has a bearing on what you are doing. You are accountable for why you used a certain brush but not another – if you can’t explain that fact your ignorance is taken into account and the discussion moves back a step from the specifics of your work to your approach to it – account for why you don’t think that the brush doesn’t matter. This ideal of accountability is good thing™.

Art is the most fickle of markets. I am one of a multitude of people who try to somehow get some money and to command respect for how I see the world. We are trying to convince others that we are entitled to interpret their reality, that we somehow can tell others something that they didn’t already know, and all of this in a manner that is abstract most of the time, and self-serving all of the time. All of us working in the field are convincing our friends that what we are doing is a good thing™ in the sense of being attuned to what works. That we know what is beautiful; not in and of itself, but what is beautiful at the moment and will be understood as such by those we want to convince.

Those of us who did not already know it, realise somewhere along the way that most people don’t know what the hell we are doing. And time and again we have to choose if it matters. “Yes mom, I’m burning a whole bunch of flags. Yes it’s for work. Art work.

As I am constantly reminded of, both by artist friends and by the art world in general, my main problem is that I still differentiate between my artistic practice and everything else. To be an artist is to make art all the time – not in the sense of working a lot, but rather that there is nothing but work. You cannot breath without doing art. The job description of an artist is not necessarily to produce something for others to experience, but to be someone who is constantly aware of his or her role as an artist. To be the person who wills the world from moment to moment, to be the self-appointed titan of sorts who doesn’t necessarily carry the weight of the world on his shoulder, but is forced to think of it constantly. It’s a thankless job because there’s no discernable meaning to it other than the one you convince yourself and others of. Art is its’ own circular argument. Art for art’s sake has traditionally implied that there’s a necessity to it for outside observers, but today art for art’s sake has taken on it’s literal meaning: Since everything is art, we do art because there is nothing else. It is the place where we create meaning, it is as solid ground as we are likely to find.

But if I as an artist am the one who constructs meaning, and with one foot try to stand on my own construction of meaning, and with the other try to find purchase in something else, I feel like someone who takes one step too many walking up stairs – the unsettling feeling of knowing that I had something to stand on just a second ago, but finding myself falling forward because there is nothing but empty air where my weight is. Art is not a stepping stone to anything for me, it is an end to itself, and I have a hard time consolidating this understanding with whom I’ve grown up to be and still identify myself with. Maybe it’s just a question of maturity and, in my case, a lack of it.

Party party

Here’s my theory on having fun. If you’re trying too hard, you’re not going to succeed because your expectations are way up high in the collage-movie-stage of fun.

We had some people over in the studio last weekend, and even though all were nice and such, there was this anticipation in the air. It took two minutes for someone to react even when I put on some Mochipet, and I had done it out of spite (I do like Mochipet very much, but most of the people I hang around don’t appreciate his music. Not at a party anyway). That’s how distracted people were.

Sexual frustration is a big thing at context & media right now. Most people are engaged in oral sex all the time, and it’s getting to me. (Yes, this is a so called pun, and by oral sex I mean that they are talking about sex a lot. I lifted this pun from Terry Pratchett, who is talking to me all my waking hours thanks to the never-ending supply of his audiobooks on the pirate bay.)

Way too much to do. Managed to get some filming done a week ago, and had a three-dee course as well (jhezuz it’s a mess to play with 3 dimensions). I’ll be posting some pics of the masterpieces I put together. Or maybe not, they were kinda crap.