romanglass (romanglass) wrote in magne_f,

Imprints 3

As luck would have it, I had some time available last night to update here, but there was an LJ site outage and I couldn't post. But you know me - once I get the bug to write, I can't rest until I get it done. So I am drafting this in textpad and hope to be able to access LJ for posting later today :-)

I've been trying to figure out why this video and others like it interest me so much. It's a unique perspective on a process we wouldn't normally see, it helps fill in the scope of the project and effort involved, and it's wonderful of the artist to be willing to share his creative tasks in a raw format like this. You really get a sense of his relationship with the work. He could just as easily have let the works speak for themselves, and if the viewer is curious about the process, allow their imagination to fill in the details.

The video is not an intrusive view of the work, and in some ways it generates more questions for me than answers (because that's how my mind works ;-)), but that's ok with me.

How much time is passing in this video? Did this happen over a couple of weeks or on several occasions over months? What season is it? What does that dark period represent? Was Magne away on tour with a-ha in parallel with some of this? And was the process for the other jar similar, or did they run into any delays or challenges that made it different? Were both jars built at the same time, or in succession? How many people were involved with building the jars, and was Magne present for that, or did he only arrive in time for the actual imprinting of letters and painting work? What kind of mental transition does Magne have to make between all his creative projects, in order to give 100% focus on what he is doing in the moment? Or do all his projects somehow inform the result of whatever he is working on at any given time? How long did it take to fire the jars and how many days did it take to complete the glazing? Is it a local team of people doing the building of the jar or did Magne bring people with him to do the work? How did they make sure the sides of the jar were uniformly thick? Is there a 'front' of a round object? Did he know when he was doing the work which side of the jar would face the road and which would face the center of the park? Did he consider the view of the work from the office buildings, mostly from above? Why haven't we seen a photo of the finished sculpture park from above?! I'd sure like to see that ;-)

All questions don't require answers, but the curiosity certainly has value in that it leads to further thought and a kind of bond with the subject. If you look at an artwork once and can't find one thing about it to spark a new thought or a question or an emotion, you'll never bother to look at it again.

I believe that one reason people return again and again to view certain art is that the works tell an endless story that evolves every time you visit. Perhaps because I have been watching the process from afar, via whatever photos and videos Magne has allowed to be shared in media etc., the 'Imprints' works had a story of their own in my mind before I ever saw them in person, and their story will continue to evolve. Having visited the site three times, at specific and impactful moments in my own life, I can't help but associate some of the works with profound personal memories of my own.

Years ago, my sister gave my father a book full of questions designed to get grandparents to write down their history and document their life for their grandchildren. Predictably, he took this as an interesting assignment and started answering questions from the book in story format: What was your very first job? When did you meet Grandma? What are your favorite smells? How many countries have you been to? Stuff like that. When he was done answering the questions, he had about 300 pages of text, which he then printed out and put into binders for his children and grandchildren. He was always a man of few words, so this binder gave us all real insight into his life (his first apartment was above a pool hall?! he once had a summer job painting electricity towers?! he had four dogs on the farm, in succession, all called Toby!), and now more than ever I am so grateful for it. Reading his accounts is like hearing him talking to me again.

Anyway, recently my brother found the digital file of these stories and sent us siblings one of my favorites: The story of my father's childhood told from the perspective of the barn on his farm. The barn expressed delight about 'Paulie' learning to drive a tractor, and concern about Paulie putting his chores off once in favor of going swimming in the creek with his best friend ('he'll surely get in trouble this time!'), and generally sounding content about watching young Paul through different situations the barn was directly involved with. Back in 2014, one month before my father got sick the first time, we had a family reunion in Wisconsin and I got to see the thoughtful barn in question. You can probably imagine what this was like, and how glad I am to have been with my father when he visited his childhood home for what turned out to be the last time.

The story landed in my inbox a few weeks ago, just as I was thinking about how to explain why this video is interesting to me, and I realized that one of the reasons I like this viewpoint is because I am like my father: I like to see things from a different perspective, and I associate significant memories with objects and environments and music. It's not about the personification necessarily - the barn has its own voice in my father's story - but about experiencing an event as an onlooker and creating your own narrative about it.

My mother actually does something similar. She sometimes will write a letter for someone to take on a plane or train, which tells the stories of the people sitting around them. You open it once you sit down, and before long you have a narrative about the guy sitting next to you and why he has to take his shoes off because he is a salesman and spends a lot of time standing at tradeshows, or the woman across the aisle who is anxious because she hates flying and where she is going and why she is wearing a blue scarf. The whole thing is based on her imaginary observations of fictitious people, which makes it so fun to read and distracts you until meal service begins ;-)


I hadn't thought about this in years, but this is yet another thing I remembered when watching this video.

In college I dated an architecture student, who spent many hours in the studio producing sketches and models. Often he was so busy with coursework that if I wanted to see him, I had to go to the studio at odd hours, often late into the night, when all the students in his class were up late working on models. I drove more than one student to the local hospital due to a bad cut from an exacto knife, and I sat through a lot of trial presentations as well. Sometimes I would stop by between classes during the day just to see updates made to friends' models since I had last been there, even if my friends were in class and not around to explain why they added a window or why they changed the angle of a roof.

The whole process of design and model building was absolutely fascinating to me, so much so that even when I broke up with the guy, I kept going back to the studio and listened to anyone who wanted to explain what they were trying to do with their building concepts. I really miss that part of my college experience, there is nowhere I can go to see this kind of creativity and calculation in progress.

All this to say that this little video is interesting to me for a lot of reasons, mostly due to my own history and perspective, not least of which is my fascination with Magne's art in particular. Over the years I have learned some things about myself because of my interest in art and music.

Does my story matter all that much in relation to the 'Imprints' works? Not to the world, of course. But my story informs my response to the works, just as your story informs your response. I can only encourage you to look at this art - and any art - as something that sparks a thought, or a question, or an emotion, so that you can be open to what it tells you not only about itself but about yourself.

EDIT: I see that LJ is up and I can post now :-) Not sure this will be interesting to anyone but me, but that's ok. In any case, have a wonderful Christmas and here's to more art and music from Magne in 2017!
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