A few days ago our group met to exchange the results of projects we each undertook individually. Paul had the brilliant idea some months back that we in our collective create for ourselves a “box set” of books or booklets, where our own contribution plus those we receive from others would make up four unique items. When we discussed and agreed to the idea it looked as if Christmas 2018 would be an ideal target date. And, of course, we all need deadlines as otherwise we will never know when we have missed them.
I myself decided to use this as excuse to try an idea combining several things of interest to me: graphic design, box making, bookarts, silver-gelatin prints, darkroom processes, fiber-based photographic paper, handmade papers, Ireland, etc. The result is a set of 12 images (each 8” x 8”, the width and height of our zines as printed by Magcloud) along with a booklet containing a slightly stream-of-consciousness travelogue relating to my journeys in Counties Clare, Galway and Mayo. I am used to personal projects executed in a frenzied white heat of barely-coordinated hands, but this one required much more patience, gentler planning, and a longer view. Even then my limited edition of six has flaws I could have avoided by simply anticipating that a lot of “unknown unknowns” were lurking. Regardless I’m glad Paul’s suggestion gave me an opportunity to stretch.
It is perhaps bit of a cliché these days to assert we should “know our audience” before preparing some work of writing or images or music or somesuch. Which is not to say the advice can be ignored – solipsistic creativity has a place, but it isn’t fair to demand a welcoming face from another humanoid, either now or in the distant future, when they encounter the resulting work. (And in the professional sphere, ignoring the cliché would be self-destructive.) Rather, I think the advice can be given a bit of a twist in that it helps to know not only what we can “get away with” given our audience, but that there exists an audience in the first place. Throughout my work on “Known & Strange Things” I had in mind Kim, Francis, and Paul, and perhaps also a few other friends and family to whom I will show the work. It is as if the audience provides a psychic trampoline, the weight and energy of creativity over time rising a little bit higher in the air, and a playfulness in that same time binding us to earth so that every so often we can absorb the propulsive & sheltering resistances from others. I’m so pleased and grateful to have had VI Zine collaborators as my audience for this individual project.