“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” — Gustave Flaubert
On December 6, 2014, one of my favorite photographers, Richard Koci Hernandez, deleted all of his images from his Instagram account and started over. In an interview with TIME magazine he said, “I don’t want to sound too pretentious but I’ve always felt that my photographs shouldn’t live forever. But it seems to me that the Internet is increasingly allowing things to live forever.” He did it again in 2019, except this time, he didn’t start over. As of this writing, he still hasn’t posted anything new, leaving his 253K followers with nothing to do but move on.
At the time of each of his mass deletions, I’ll be honest in saying that I really didn’t understand why he would do it. Certainly showing your evolution and growth as a creator has value, so why purposefully obliterate your entire digital history? As I’ve been thinking about legacy and what type of work I want to be known and remembered for, more and more I think what Koci did makes sense. I don’t know that I’m quite ready to delete everything, but I have definitely come to understand the need to start again, to “light out” in a different direction creatively and let that work speak for where I am in the current chapter of my life.
Almost six years ago, I left Southern California with only the things that I could get in the back of my Honda Fit. Prior to leaving, I laid out a rectangle of masking tape on the floor of my apartment in Rancho Cucamonga (yes, it’s a real place and not just a gag from Bugs Bunny cartoons) that was the same size as the cargo area of my car. Other than several boxes of books and a few of my paintings, which were shipped to the East Coast, whatever I could get in the square came with me, and everything else in my apartment was either sold or given away (including my Epson 7600, which I really wish I had either taken or shipped). In leaving California I left behind everything and everyone I had ever known — well, at least those who were still left, but that’s another story. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but also one of the most necessary.
While I still have the memories of the life I lived in California, it’s no longer the life I’m living here and now — and in a strange turn of events, many things I had all but forgotten about have found their way to the surface of my mind over the past 5 years, inspiring me to write, to paint, and to think about new projects that may never have seen the light of day had I stayed. The pandemic too has played a part in inspiring a rather sharp creative left turn which has yielded multiple new bodies of work that I likely wouldn’t have discovered had I been allowed to continue on with business as usual. Even now, I’m in production on a project that I have been circling to a greater or lesser degree for the better part of my life. It will be the largest, most personal project I’ve ever done, and if I can somehow manage to pull it off the way I see it in my mind, has the chance to stand as something that I can point to as a legacy project, imbued with all of the hope, purpose, and intent that I can muster, refined and honed for decades. And while I don’t have to delete the work I’ve done before, I think I have to acknowledge that it serves and has led me to the work that I’m doing now. As Adrianne is so fond of reminding me, “it all counts.” So while my “hard reset” is more metaphorical than literal, it is no less of a mark in the sand and I think that if these next bodies of work go to plan, they will help to define a new period in my life creatively, emotionally, and existentially. At least that’s my hope.
Have you ever done a creative hard reset? If not, would you ever consider doing one?
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I was in a room on Clubhouse the other day and we were talking about famous collaborations between photographers and subjects. I had just read this terrific piece about Anton Corbijn, who for decades has collaborated with U2 and Depeche Mode to produce some of the defining images of each of the bands throughout their careers. In each case, Corbijn has become more than just the band’s photographer — in the case of Depeche Mode, he directs their videos, designs their logos and album covers, even creates the staging for their live shows. It’s a fascinating look at deep collaboration between artists.
I think the first piece by the artist known as Christo I saw was Surrounded Islands in 1983. The artist used more than 600,000 square meters of bright pink cloth to surround a series of islands in Biscayne Bay. I didn’t get it at the time and I’m not sure I get it now other than maybe the art was in the doing and not necessarily the end product. Or maybe it was a combination of the initial idea, the doing, and the end product. Regardless, his work has puzzled me ever since and I really do love seeing the projects he creates. Even though Christo died in 2020, one more project will see the light of day this September when the Arc de Triomphe in Paris gets wrapped in 25,000 square meters of metallic blue polypropylene fabric. Read more about it at ArtNews.
What do films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the band Sparks have in common? If you said Edgar Wright you’re…well…right. Edgar has just completed his first documentary about the brothers behind the band, Ron and Russell Mael, appropriately titled, The Sparks Brothers. Take a look at the trailer and if you’re not familiar with their music, here’s a terrific look at some of Edgar’s favorite Sparks songs.