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Jun 29, 2015

The Downside of Autonomy

"Long Arrival", charcoal, by Tim Holmes
I feel rising in the social dynamic an increasing degree of helplessness disguised as individual autonomy. This is very hard to see directly but can be felt in the hopeless situation of American politics where our representatives serve not so much spokespersons for a community as hired guns for wealthy but invisible donors. Politics is wrenched out of the hands of the people. Witness congress hitting an approval low of 9%. I don't know who my reps speak for but it's not my people.

But it's even broader than that. When I was a kid in the 70's most anyone could enter a kind of social stream readily: getting a good education, finding a job or even a career, securing a home, and easing into the greater community. For the average young person now, only the last can be counted on. This is progress? Sure a person today can still "make it" in the middle class but it takes a level of ingenuity, resilience and good luck that was not necessary for my generation. Although plenty have the talent to run a business or farm or work a factory job or design a campaign, the overall cunning and resilience that's now required to turn talent into social success is rare indeed.

Where my generation could count on a level of social social support today everyone is really on their own, presumably in the interest of personal freedom. This is in part due to a loss of social cohesion that insists we're all in this society together. Rising income inequality raises good questions like why don't the poor rise up? Gone are the social archetypes that once eased individuals into socially significant roles. Yeah, just try to be socially significant now! The individual may be "free" but becomes totally subsumed by massive corporations that have no human sympathies (being basically machines) but have endless resources to minimize personal effect, all the while deftly making us feel it's our fault! 

When once immigrants to America were seen as our power source, now they are painted as thieves until proven decent. Such are the thoughts of a machine. Somehow human beings have been transformed from citizens into cogs in the great machine. Cogs are crucial, human beings just get in the way. As long as we're made to feel we are competing against other humans for the scraps, those invisible powers don't really have to further abuse us to maintain control. I dream of a future where people are primarily seen as talents waiting to blossom, each treasured for what they contribute instead of feared for what "jobs" (read: profits) they might take. When we learn to resist the heartless demands of the machine and rise as a people, there'll be no stopping us!
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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.