Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crazy pipes

When I was an undergraduate student studying art, I was stuck for a semester with a terrible professor named Jan. The main reason she was a terrible professor was because she was from the school of art education that holds that teaching technique and process is stifling and limiting to creativity, and that the student should merely be inspired to discover and experiment and create. This sounds great on paper, and has inspired many romantic stories about the creative life, a la Dead Poet's Society. In reality, I find that it mostly just allows a lot of people to get away with a lot of bullshit, and leaves others (like myself) without the tools to actualize their creative ideas. It took me a long time to build that creative tool kit, and I'm still working on it.

The other reason she was a terrible professor was because she had very strong socio-political views that she insisted on imposing on the entire class. Not only would she preach about her ideas (some of which I agreed with), but she insisted that your art be about her ideas. But . . . one of her main things was about how industrial society seeks to control nature, so she had us drawing lots of plumbing and making etching of manhole covers and stuff like that, and I actually really took to it. To this day, I really enjoy drawing complicated conglomerations of pipes and plumbing, like this HVAC system at the Wild Project, a performance space in the Lower East Side.

I have no idea what any of these pipes or gauges or doo-dads do. I don't know why this stuff is on the ground floor in the front of the building, while the actual HVAC machine is on the roof in the back of the building. And I sure don't get that red wire, wrapped all around the entire length of the thing. Is that really how they teach you to do it in HVAC school?

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