It is the nature of most any person in any time and in any place to believe that their particular time and particular place is the most significant, pivotal time and place to have ever existed. Perhaps it may be objectively true that here and now really is the most significant, pivotal time and place up until this point; to argue this point would be to get into a debate on the semantics of "significance", "time", "place", and "person". What seems to me to be absolutely true, however, is that for the individual person who believes their context to be the most significant (and even for the person who somehow believes it is not), the present is truly is the most significant realm of existence there has ever been. How frightening that the present is constantly slipping through our fingers into a past from which we must cobble together meaning and assign significance. None of these thoughts are new, but they are important.
This is a review of art, context, and art in context. It is not only an acknowledgement that no journalistic or critical endeavor exists in a vacuum of bias and experience, but an embrace of such. It is a recognition that form and meaning are temporal and an exploration into what those forms and meanings are in this particular moment to this particular person in this particular environment. As if a visual artist in a negative space exercise, shading the world around an object instead of focusing attention on the form of the object, my aim is to direct my attention to the world around what I directly see. In focusing on context, I hope to illuminate what I see, to see more clearly, to ascertain the transient from the eternal, and to learn more about the context in which I exist.
It is important that I acknowledge some of the filters through which tint the way I see the world. I view these filters as being simultaneously common, as they are all I know, and specific, as they are all I know. I should clarify that I am addressing this not to claim privilege or marginalization (this dialogue has been attended to very comprehensively in many other places and is not the point of this review), but rather to give a name to some bias in perspective. Most of the filters I will list are demographic data and lack the nuance and strangeness of daily experience, but it'll do in a pinch. It is March 2018 as I write this. I am American. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I am from Texas, in the part that doesn't have a Southern accent and has more of the culture of generic strip mall Middle America than a Flannery O'Connor story. I am white. I am a woman. I am in the upper-middle class and the creative class. I'm somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale. I am in the millennial generation. I do not have a formal journalistic, artistic, or literary background, but rather, a civil engineering bachelor's degree. I grew up Protestant, but now ascribe to the quasi-agnostic, quasi-new age spirituality which seems to be pretty typical for my demographic. I have leftist ideals but I don't know what to do with them. I could go on in pursuit of accuracy in description of this filter, but I must also acknowledge that all of these perspectives and the very acts of exploration of these perspectives have their own context and basis in history which must be explored--to go endlessly into categorization would be to ignore the thing beneath all of that, something so peripheral that I can't yet describe it.
While medium is heavily tied to meaning and is in itself an aspect of context, I intend to review various forms of media without discrimination as to form, although my own biases will assuredly result in certain forms of media receiving more reflection (expect very little television and a good many books). The subjects of review will be found both via intentional searching and stumbled upon while drifting. Every review shall incorporate moments of self-reflection. I will attempt to contextualize each subject within the environment in which I receive it. To reiterate, it is my goal that in extending the context to more general phenomena, I may shed light on those phenomena and give further form and meaning to the subject. While not directly seeking to induce discomfort for myself or the reader, I will also try to sit with uncomfortable subject matter and realizations, explore the source and phenomenon of the discomfort, and use discomfort as a light and source of perspective.
As the reader, I entrust in you the responsibility of reading around what I write. You must not trust my perspective. In fact, I don't even trust my own perspective--in the midst of writing this, I find this to be both lofty and banal. I'm not sure if it matters if it is lofty or banal. You must assess how my perspective is distorted by your perspective (and vice versa). Similar to the task I have assigned myself, I am assigning you with the task of viewing the space between the words: what is omitted, what is implied, what form it comes in, where it comes from, why it has been written, and what it says about the greater world in which it is read. Do not simply read deeply into this content, but read deeply into your frame of reference for viewing this content. Throw what you learn back at me so that I may read around what you have read around. And so on. And so on.