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The Artist's Drive towards the Unknowable

An artist's response to AI, persistence of one's artistic practice, and the ultimate "goal".


I woke up this morning at 5 am. I have a glass jar labeled "5 am mornings", and I placed a date seed inside it. It marks other times I've pushed myself out of bed at 5 am. Placing date seeds in a jar is a ritual I started a month ago. There are five date seeds inside the jar now. I'm convinced that if I started this ritual two months ago, it would have more date seeds inside the jar. Yet, numbers do not lie, and this cue motivates me to continue to fill it. To match my internal belief of myself with my external environment is the motivation behind this practice.


 

It's not about how many date seeds I get inside the jar though. It's about what I do after I place the date seed in the jar. It's about my discipline to sit in the silence of 5 am mornings. The solitude. The process of silence to contemplate and to know myself and this life on earth.


Before I continue, I must mention - there was a negative hit on my psyche in the past month. I know I can frame it in a way that creates a more positive narrative, but that's what it was - a hit. A bash. An unwanted blow to my consciousness. Uninvited. It was a weight when AI came out - specifically the kind that produced art on the spot after you type in a few words. That didn't feel good. It felt like the entire industry of art was completely disintegrating. The industry that was built to uphold my contemplative art practice. To sustain the joy of art-making, us artists need the industry to fortify it. Just the way it was. Without AI. Right? And I wasn't invited to say if I was or wasn't ok with it. I never asked for AI to come out. And yet, the collective consciousness has suggested AI was completely changing the art "game".


 

So why go on? Why did I just get up at 5 am, and start writing. Isn't there an app called JASPER? An AI app that does everything for you? Why would I be so bold, and push forward, knowing that a machine can do everything for me, and build an infinitely larger audience than if I do it by myself?


 

Why would I be so bold, and push forward, knowing that a machine can do everything for me, and build an infinitely larger audience than if I do it by myself?


 

The answer isn't obvious. That's why I'm writing about it. It has to do with the title. My motivation to create art, while on the surface is for others, actually goes deeper than that. Creating for others is not the sole purpose of what drives my artwork. For years, I thought it was. I thought I create for others, and that's why I create. I thought that my prime motivation was to please others. To create art that others would gawk at. And yet, an ultimate test has now been offered up to me. A test that begs the question of why I create artwork. A technology so great that my art can be seen by millions if I use it. Or anyone's art for that matter can be seen by millions with the push of a button (or a few buttons). And yet - I do not pursue it. I'm not the least interested in this AI stuff. It's as if the keys to the universe are being offered to me, and I'm more interested in this path to what I refer to as - "the unknowable."


This acrylic painting of a deer might explain something of what I'm suggesting. He's alone in this crystalline forest. Staring at the viewer. He isn't grabbing at the viewer. He isn't dependent on the viewer. He's rather mildly curious of the viewer. Actually, the deer seems to be preoccupied with something far more mysterious, mystical, and more entrancing than the viewer. As the viewer, we are peering at him. Like a voyeur. We get to gaze at him. But we were never invited into his world. He just happens to share with us a moment of his world. We get to glimpse at him. I don't think he cares much for us at all though. And so we are looking at him by mistake. It's almost uncomfortable that we are seeing him in his glory, because, looking at him from our glowing screen, we are less glorious. Less filled with light and wonder.


 

I think the deer is at peace. If I were to guess his experience. I actually appreciate the definition of "peace", which is defined as: freedom from disturbance: tranquility. The ultimate goal is peace. Let us realize that. The ultimate goal is not unlimited fame and fortune. The ultimate goal isn't to create the best and longest lasting piece of art the earth has ever seen. That's kind of silly anyway, isn't it? Because really - the material object transitions to dust in a short period of time. Whether in our lifetime or after. All material objects fade into oblivion. Their last bastion of existence clings to our memory. And that too fades into oblivion when the neural matter holding our memory decays, rots, or is incinerated through a cremation process.


 

The ultimate goal is peace.


 

I leave you with one final image. It's an image of an incomplete drawing. A drawing that works with "my muse". My muse here is the brain, the heart, and two people kissing. I normally post images that have crips edges, but I want to make it clear that this is a hand drawn image. There is a blurry finger or something near the outside of the paper photographed. There are reference images near by, and a very non-glorious wall the paper is taped to. I supposed when I do share my work at this point - I'd like to make it clear that it was made by a hand filled with blood, and not 1's and 0's. The art practice itself isn't about material gain, or material imprint. The art journey itself is about knowing oneself. Sharing one's art, like the deer who happens to be staring at the viewer. The deer does not exist because of the viewer. It exists for a reason that we can only ponder about, but never fully understand, because we are not the deer.


 

So what is the ultimate "goal" of all this art making, and frankly - life itself? It's about finding peace within oneself. Though we seem to be connected to some unknowable and eternal process, far beyond our material access, we remain in these material vessels for as long as the universe requires us. So viewers will get their peep show into our cosmic journeyings. I'm not here to fixate on my offer of a peep show though. The peep show is a branch, a root, or possibly a discharge from the primary function of our consciousness here on this planet. I am here to attain internal salvation. Internal salvation seems to allow us to tap into the eternal current that underlies all life here on this planet.


Author: Andrew Kaminski

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