People are talking. A lot.
Wherever you go, there are random conversations going on about the state of the chaotic world in which we live.
You may want to pretend that these conversations are not happening. But you can’t. You just can’t.
Even if you try, you cannot avoid the reality that the earth’s axis has shifted metaphorically, and people are not going to be silent about it.
People are talking. The question is, is anyone listening?
I noticed these two gentlemen who sat down across from me today at a local restaurant where I had camped out with my laptop to do some work. It is a common thing to see older men hanging out at local fast food joints, espousing their opinions on the state of things. Something about these two men intrigued me. I took their photo and played with it a bit with some digital filters, creating an artwork that captured a moment of conversation.
I pondered about the idea of the artist as participant observer as I considered them from a disengaged distance.
One man proudly wore a hat that let me know he had served in a war that ripped our country apart many years ago. “He has seen a lot,” I thought to myself. His posture and gaze away from his companion suggested a hesitance, while the other man was perched and engaged, seeking some kind of validation from his friend for his desire to pontificate.
His friend apparently failed in giving him that validation, as he soon sought it from me. I was no longer disengaged.
What started as a commentary about the ferocious snow shower outside quickly evolved into a discussion about global warming, armed teachers in schools, gun violence in general, young people and technology, etc.
I shared my thoughts. He shared his. I listened. He listened. We were not that far apart in our general thoughts about things. He thought arming teachers was the stupidist thing he had ever heard. He didn’t “believe in global warming”, but he did think that our polluting the environment was connected to “this crazy weather”. He agreed that we needed to look at creating jobs for the future instead of trying to bring back jobs that are now obsolete.
He seemed to believe that young people and their focus on technology, however, were responsible for all things evil in the world. He shared a belief that all young people were on drugs and that they were destroying the world with technology.
He listened when I shared a different view, and despite some obvious biases, I think his perspective was broadened a bit. Even so, his brusque comments led to a young African American couple who were sitting nearby to abruptly move to a table out of earshot from us.
That saddened me.
The conversation ended as randomly as it started. I had to take a call from my mechanic, and the men left while I was on the phone. I likely won’t see them again. Still yet, the conversation stays with me.
Where do these conversations go? Do they solve anything? Am I different for it? Is he?
Did I miss an opportunity to connect with the couple who apparently felt pushed away?
What does his friend think? He did not shared his thoughts with me.
What is the role of the artist in chaotic times like these? Observer? Participant? Documenter? Pontificator? Where does the artist begin to express her thoughts, her aesthetic, her passions, her fears when everything she knows is upended?
I guess I will start with random conversations. You?
Prints of the image above are available. Contact BZTAT for information.
Life is an Adventure!