On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by an anonymous American Cyberculture student at UC Berkeley.
Not many people think about making. That is, the act of creation; both intentional and unintentional. While most people prioritize that which they create with willful agency, they often overlook what is created as a side effect of their actions. This has environmental implications (i.e., the 4.6 pounds of garbage every person contributes to landfills every day) as well as personal and social implications. While the former is tangible and is able to be measured, the latter is unseen and sometimes written off as less important.
The environmental impact of what we inadvertently make has global impact. Obviously if we continue to ignore the side-effects of our lifestyles, the problem of pollution, of global warming, and of the human impact on earth will only grow. Less obvious, however, is the acts of creation that are intangible. A conversation, a smile, and a sigh – all are creations, though they are fleeting. Their lack of permanence does not make them any less important. Of course, our environmental creations are on a larger scope and a longer timeline than the ephemeral feelings we create, but both are prominent to either our future or our daily lives.
The question then arises: is it possible to reconcile these two? Can the link between the tangible and intangible be visualized in some way, or brought into focus? I believe art is key to this process. Art, through abstraction and visual appeal, can make important global issues like pollution and global warming to people’s daily lives. It can also express that which otherwise cannot be or isn’t expressed, like the color of a smile, or the fragile outline of a hug. Art is capable of turning the intangible tangible, and of bringing problems of huge scope down to a level everyone can understand.