I spent Leap Day with Doug Shaw and several other great peeps for #LeapDay2016. Little did I realise it would be a day exploring Knowing & Trace, such was the fluidity of the day. We started the day at the Alice in Wonderland expo at the British Library, meandering, looking, talking, reading. A few things occurred to me:
The exhibition was designed to be followed in a set route. I became instantly aware of how I am drawn to the conformity and order in an unfamiliar setting. I haven’t read the book and whilst aware of the story, I found the numbers made it easy to follow the display. Lewis Carroll was actually mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson I learnt today, and as a number guy perhaps he would have been proud of me following the order! With such a vivid imagination, I am sure he would be laughing at my actions. What remained with me in conforming today have been two thoughts; firstly why conform? I rarely do in most things, but why today? To which I concluded the second thought; conforming was easy. In a day of relaxed learning and open mindedness, easy was an obvious choice for my brain to take. This reminded me that the path of least resistance, the ease in which we learn is a must for workplace learning. Why make things hard for people?
As I already mentioned I have never read Alice in Wonderland. Yet I feel I know the story well. It is part of our culture and as such impacts in many areas. Until today, I had no real tacit knowledge of the book, the author, the illustrator, yet I felt part of the exhibition today in an ownership way, from simply being British, or being aware of explicit knowledge which is out and in our psyche. Should I be OK with that? With knowing without actually knowing? A veneer thin awareness versus really knowing? Which is more important in a world where we can download everything? Can I only know something if I have experienced it myself? If that is true, how can I possibly know everything? For example, how could I imagine to know what it is to live life with blindness, autism, depression, terminal illness for a start? Or to live with careless wild abandon, extreme joy, or risk taking dare devil activity? None of this is my context, but will I be a better human being for making time to understand and to know these other contexts? Many questions on knowing and not knowing came to be today. I have no answers yet. I need to make time to consider.
It was at this thought regarding making time that in the exhibition I aptly saw the Carroll quote “After a quarrel with Time it is always teatime for the Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse.” At that very moment it seemed ideal to have perpetual teatime, then knowing would be irrelevant. I know I am certainly glad I gave myself downtime today and made time to have this Leap Day experience. Although raising question after question, and few answers, at least in this portion of the day, it was still #TimeWellSpent.
After Alice, we moved onto the Tate Modern to consider Trace, in an exhibition designed to “capture making as gesture, the trace of an action…works here explore the physical reach of the artist and the ways in which bodily limitation are challenge and extended.” Having been asked by Doug to consider the following 3 questions;
- How do I leave a trace; a footprint, a photograph, a mark of where you were?
- What do traces tell us about what happened before?
- What trace would you leave for others to discover?
I walked into the room open minded, as you always have to be at the Tate. After a short time amongst the artworks I sat and wrote the following thoughts in my notebook pictured above;
What trace will I leave?
As I walk into the exhibition Hall at The Tate Modern I am struck instantly by the whiteness of the walls. I see nothing clearly other than the floaters in my eye which I live with daily. I cannot leave those as a trace when I’m gone as they are something only I can experience, alone, forever. Other people have floaters, sure they do, but not mine in their size or shape or positioning. They are uniquely mine. Annoyingly they get in the way of looking at the artists’ work.
Is that an excuse? Is it more I don’t ‘get it’, I don’t understand these intensely personal art works, these views of trace and therefore am making excuses?
Or is it that trace is simply so personal and no matter how we may plan our impact and our trace we can never experience it as others do? We cannot dictate how people experience us. People come to us, as they do art or work or community, with their own baggage, experience, stuff. We can therefore only offer the best us, our best trace to be experienced and found in an interpretation of our intent.
It is perhaps this which causes artists to deliberate and worry their art is not good enough; that people will not ‘get it’ or understand it. To not be understood is a frustration beyond measure. To seek to be understood is a lifelong challenge for us all. To seek to understand is perhaps a more noble pursuit.
So I conclude I don’t seek to leave a trace. I seek to leave an impact through the ordinary, giving, kind, true sense of me. By not hiding, by being generous, by offering myself in service. Also by an honesty so raw it is likely to hurt but also likely to be freeing. I seek to create trace by being me.
Today has been a good day. I hope you enjoyed your Leap Day 2016.