When I began my latest project, back before Trump was elected, or even running to be, President of the USA, I was calling it The Future.
That, what the future might look (and feel) like, was what I was trying to show, was the thought I was holding in my head as I went about shooting and sequencing the images.
But as I got deeper into the thing that title, The Future, seemed too proscriptive, didn’t leave enough room for the viewer to wonder. And leaving room for the viewer to wonder is, in my opinion, central to art.
At any rate, about 9 months ago I decided to call the work After the Fact.
That seemed a more open-ended title, with some future, some outcome, being merely implied. People looking at the work might wonder, “After what fact?”.
But it would seem that events have overtaken the possible future I had imagined. It would seem that we have moved past whatever fact the work asked its viewers to imagine. We no longer have to imagine, it’s there, right in front of us.
So now this work seems to me to be more like news (although not the news that’s presented to you by all the status quo minds and habits that seem to control media, governmental and corporate institutions).
Perhaps I should change the title again, maybe I should call it The Present.
One of the things I like about Kickstarter is that it allows you to circumvent the ArtGrantSystem™, which is usually adjudicated by small juries of your peers. Which is all well and good if your work conforms to the kind of work that is generally supported by, well . . . a small jury of your peers. Of course, the ArtsGrantSystem™ will also, if you are successful, bestow you with the affirmation and self-worth that being accepted by that system provides.
But that’s neither here nor there to me. You see, one of things I’m interested in these days is how to create and distribute outside the ArtSystem™. (Which is not to say that I haven’t seen some truly amazing work brought forward and supported by the ArtSystem™. I have.)
But the ArtSystem™, like all systems, is mostly preoccupied (whether it knows it or not) with self-perpetuation, with propping up the status quo, with gate-keeping, with commerce.
(Everything, though, is a system of some sort. Heck, even my personal approach to photographing and disseminating the resultant work is a system. A system of one, mind you. But, like every system, it too is corrupt.
I like to think it’s not as corrupt as large, institutional, governmental, and corporate systems, and because I have so little reach, is only corrupt on a small scale. But let’s be honest . . . nothing in this chemical world is pure.)
Further . . . with the ArtGrantSystem™ your pitch is pretty much private, shared only with the administrator(s) and the jury. If you are successful, of course, you’ll let people know. If you are not successful, well, no one needs to know, right?
On the other hand, Kickstarter is public. You succeed or fail right out in the open.
And that brings me to my least favourite thing about Kickstarter . . . the need to constantly sell. Sell, sell, sell. Twist some arms, maybe call in a favour or two. Such a drag. Not only on the psyche of the seller, but also on the psyche of the prospective supporters.
But the fact is . . . advertising works. To be successful on Kickstarter (in my experience) you need to constantly remind people you’re trying to make something happen, and that it won’t happen without their help.
I try to remind myself, though, that advertising can occasionally be useful in a positive way. Most adverts pass right through my head, I pay no attention. But every so often I see something advertised and I think to myself, I think, Tony, that looks like something worthwhile. If I hadn’t seen the advert I’d never have known.
Of course, even if something looks worthwhile I still must consider the ethical/moral aspects of the thing, and I still must decide if it’s worth spending money for it.
So consider this an advert for selling you a copy of After the Fact.
I’m at 60% now, but things are slowing down. So if you’ve been thinking about helping make this happen, now might be the time to chip in. Please and thank you. Go here and support this project.
About a year ago, when I was well into shooting what would become After the Fact, I wrote a post here wondering if the politics and the juju of the times we are living through might be short-lived. I wondered if things might get better before I finished the project. I wondered if After the Fact, which uses bits and pieces of the present to point to a possible future, would be dated, an anachronism, before I was done.
Now, with a new populist government in Italy and the election of right wing populist Doug Ford here in Ontario, it would seem that my worries were misplaced. The division and disfunction are growing, not shrinking. So it turns out that the subject matter of After the Fact is quite timely.
The work is expressive and multi-layered, torn from the headlines. In fact, I think After the Fact is one of the best projects I’ve done. So I launched a Kickstarter to publish it as a book.
And, so far, it’s been slow . . .
I wonder why the lack of interest . . . Is it too dark? Maybe people don’t like the photos, or just don’t want to to know. Maybe it’s not what people expected from me. Is it too expensive (42 Canadian dollars, $31.50 USD,€27!)? Is it some combination of all that, and stuff that hasn’t even occurred to me?
At any rate, the lack of support has left me feeling kind of stupid and a bit humiliated. But, as Cin reminds me, when you do something you never know what will happen.
Here’s a video of the dummy. The design isn’t nailed down but the sequence and the size of the book are pretty much what you see here. (Of course, it’s one thing to look at the video, and a completely different thing to hold a book, smell the ink, feel the paper, turn the pages . . .).
So have a look. If you think it’s worthwhile go to the Kickstarter and chip in. Own it.
It’s almost 8:30, Wednesday morning. I sit here because I’ve got to figure out what to write for drool. this week. I have nothing.
Isn’t that kind of like certain approaches to photography? You feel a need to do something, to make something, to leave a mark. The whole world exists in front of you (and behind you, too). It’s up to you to sift through that, to look for, and maybe find, some coherence.
You could go out and take photos, work on a project. Or you could just give up, scroll through the social media, make some pithy remark on Facebook or Twitter. Or vent your spleen at the current state of affairs on Planet Earth (as though anything is really new, unheard of).
Maybe you go make (another) coffee, look out the window and wonder what’s the point. (What is the point, anyway?)