November 1 - December 11, 2013
Curatorial Statement, a conversation: What does influence mean? DUIs. To me, influence has a negative connotation. Why? It implies a type of coercion, when you're overwhelmed by something bigger than you. That's funny. usually when they ask a kid "who's your biggest influence" they're expecting them to say "my mom and dad" or something. They're assuming it's going to be positive and cute. I have never had an honest answer for that question. Try to answer it now, in the context of being an artist or a creative or whatever. I still can't. I feel like artistic influence is complicated these days. Most people would want to portray themselves as completely original. We are all under the influence of the values, rules, and constraints set by the environment around us.
So why did we want to curate a show about influence anyway? Because I feel like I am always under a weird force that I want to escape but never can. And art might be a way to do that Yeah. For me art is a way to escape the normal? And that normal is a construct. It's a construct, but once it's visible, there's a choice involved as to whether we follow it. Once "normality" is recognized, we choose whether we want to be "normal" or not. I feel like most of the time the choice is not ours to make, conscious or not. We are not, and probably never will be, completely free from external forces. It's coercion. I do believe in autonomy and conscious choice. I just don't see those beliefs demonstrated by many people. That's so cynical! But by making a choice there's automatically a trade-off involved. In the case of conscious choices anyway, it may not be a case of a lack of freedom but a case of unequal balance. The real dangerous influences are those that are unconscious. Right. I think the purpose of art is to bring those influences into awareness.
For example, Jose's Baby Silencer satirizes the language of product design. He points out for us that products are now advertised as life-enhancements. They make life easier and they create desire and needs before you realize it. He's one example of an artist who appropriates a certain design aesthetic to reveal the impact of mass media on our perceptions. Things we consume for entertainment. And the consumption of such entertainment has a consequence. Sociopolitical multi-structures obviously have a big impact. And they confine our behavior. But I think even those lines are blurry, which is why it's so interesting that Moke portrays a specific struggle in Cuckoo Land so abstractly. Agreed. The boundary between the personal and the political.
It's all about making the invisible visible. I like that but I don't know how to respond. Now you're making me feel like a smart-ass. And you know all the people coming to the show, they are also under all kinds of influences. And we are part of that influence now? Maybe.
Curated by Janet Shih & Chihao Yo, Digital + Media MFA 2014