The Arthemist Statement is not a manual; neither is it meant to dictate, convince or manipulate you towards sharing my ideas, beliefs, and values. Instead, it aspires to inspire one to explore, to be active, reflective and thoughtful, for each to choose their path. Living is not about following in other's footsteps, or trying to be normal, that is killing who one is. However, the idea of normality is extremely pervasive in our culture; we are made to feel we need to have something because we are told that everyone has it. The phrase "I just want to be normal" and versions of it is a common trope in TV and film. In Norway, there is an unwritten law called “Janteloven” which dictates that you shall not think that you are better than anyone else and you must not stand out. I believe that normality functions as control and not something beneficial to the individual or our growth as a society.
The Arthemist Statement aims to unpack the question ‘Why I make art?’. The motivation of why someone makes art is imperative because it reveals the essence of the artist. I make art despite not earning a living from it. I make art regardless of peoples engagement with my work. There is no quantifiable reason why I create. One could say I create art nobody wants. Why then do I make art? The answer comes from another question: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Which I believe is to explore, and by exploring you live, struggle and grow. Therefore, I create art to explore and inspire the viewer to explore both the artwork and the world for themselves. Not that this is the only valid answer or the best answer; it is an answer, nor do the variety of responses sit on a scale from worst to best. There is no worst or best; there is only honesty to which I must get into greater detail.
I have both the curse and the blessing of feeling like an outsider. It is a curse as the feeling of loneliness is part of my being; it is a blessing in two ways. First, an outsider is often subjugated to that which does not work within society, enabling one to see oppression and the facade that is placed in front of it. Second, it gives one the ability to be in a constant state of struggle.
There are certain assumptions I believe to be destructive for society, for example, that we are living in the perfect society or that no better alternative exists. Such viewpoints stifle societies growth and like stagnant water, it can become unhealthy. I see it as a civic duty to question society and imagine how it can be better. Artists are uniquely equipped to take on this task because they often look for alternative ways of seeing, they have the license to be a fool and may find themselves to be outsiders. But what is a better society? For now, I shall say a society that wishes to bring the best out of its citizens, in contrast to polarising the population, conforming them to static ideas and dealing in binary thinking.
I do not believe in the quantifiable in a traditional sense, instead; I believe in a variety of attributes, where the idea of positive or negative is in flux, to the degree that one can no longer describe it within a binary structure, which I see as two dimensional. Concepts reside within a multidimensional space, where there are no straight lines, and the nature of a concept is relative to one's position within said space. Imagine a feeling being simultaneously pleasurable and painful, where that fact is not a contradiction. This is a belief that makes describing ideas difficult because we understand concepts concerning what it is not; for example, light is the absence of darkness. Unfortunately, I must continue to use words or thoughts, such as ‘pain and pleasure’, ‘right and wrong’ until I find an ontology that can correctly convey my ideas. I am stressing this point because language creates a limit to what we can perceive, but more importantly, I do not want you to feel I am dealing with absolutes or that the ideas presented are static.
I have chosen the path of the artist because I believe it is best suited to communicate with people, as the definition of art is fluid. It has a direct link to our humanity across ideas and cultures, and it has the potential to hit a nerve in our collective consciousness and brake through established structures of thinking. Unfortunately, people generally support popularised art, which I will argue is a form of voluntary subjugation. It is in the peoples benefit to support and explore art that challenges one. Many argue that they dislike such art because they do not understand it, or that they do not have the preconceived knowledge to appreciate it. But that is precisely why one should engage with such art, because it means that you need to make an effort to understand, and it is that effort which will help one grow.
The methodology I have developed for creating art springs from ideas surrounding the fool. I divide the fool into the Natural Fool and the Licensed Fool. The Natural Fool can not help but be a fool. Some say that the Natural Fool can connect with the eternal, but they do not have the language to describe what they experienced. The eternal is that which is beyond our perception, the unfathomable or the divine. The Licensed Fool is someone who takes on the attributes of the Natural Fool to connect with the eternal. The Licensed Fool has the language to describe what they experienced. I see the Licensed Fool as a shaman, trickster and artist. Being a Licensed Fool grounds you and helps you make fun of yourself. Life is too short to uphold a facade of self-importance. Better to admit you know nothing and enter the unknown as a Licensed Fool.
I have wondered if my definition of the words art and artist has become too narrow, or that the ideas are so specific that I am describing a form of art and not art itself. If I were to give it a name, it would be Arthemy, a combination of the words Art and Alchemy. This rests in my belief that an Arthemist transmutes an object, space, time, sound, or smell through their interaction. The Arthemist's motivation does not lie in quantifiable ideas such as power, profit, fame or success. Instead, the Arthemist wishes to stimulate exploration and activate an awareness of the moment.
To me, art and living are integral to each other. I have a personal path that I am striving to walk. To further describe why I create art, I will define ideas such as honesty, happiness, success, struggle, energy, passive and active living, the fool, the teacher and preacher, the taker and giver and my thoughts on the meaning of life.
This will not be an objective text; instead, I will write with an opinion. However, I will seek to present a reflective and thoughtful paper. Much like how Plato used personal observations whilst attempting to create a good argument. I do not dismiss objectivity, but I see it as an unachievable ideal that one should strive for, but never maintain that one has achieved. I believe in subjectivity that acknowledges that right and wrong depends on the point of view, and the current system of thought. Any person or group who claims they know the absolute truth is to my mind dangerous because such a position of belief restricts exploration and development.
I do not believe in writing a final concluding piece, as my opinion is not static, and it is constantly evolving, wherein it stems from observations, intuition, encounters, dialogue and works by writers, artists, and creators. This is my second book where I outline my ideas, and there will always be adjustments to my thinking as I grow and receive new input, hopefully, input from you as well, the reader.
My intention in creating art and writing The Arthemist Statement is to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves. It is not about prescribing who one should be. Instead, the aim is to create tools that you or I can use for exploring and growing. I believe there is intrinsic value in working for humanity and the whole. It is my motivation to use the thoughts within this book as a foundation for my family. Define what my wife and I are struggling for and the values we wish to present to our children. It is with the support of my wife and family that I can create and together we explore.
Kindle Unite Nurture and Stimulate Thought.