August 07, 2006

Crumb Speaks

The following quotes are from a published collection of interviews with R. Crumb. The interviews were conducted from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s, so as Amazon informs you, "they reflect the mature Crumb." Recurring topics include the role of the artist, censorship, his life, and (of course) sex. He's very candid throughout, definitely one of the better sets of artist interviews I've read recently.
Do you think, getting back to what Trina wrote, that the artist has any sense of responsibility to society as a whole, to the readers of his work, to how his work is perceived by other people?

That's complicated. It depends on the medium. For instance, making a movie is different from drawing comics or writing a book. With comics or a book, it's a very solitary thing. Getting involved with actors in a collective venture like film is somewhat different. A film can very rarely ever be as personal and intimate of a statement as a piece of writing or a comic book or a painting that's produced by one person. (69)
So, say, John Zorn's use of porn on album covers and during performances is a different act than Crumb publishing his comics. He's a little dodgy about what kind of role the artist should play in censoring his own work, but he stresses honesty and authenticity as important traits for an artist. Ultimately, these features are more attention-worthy than any taboo content that slips in. Here's his version of what he thinks the role of the artist should be:
Allowing the subconscious to do the work isn't the only way for artists to tell the truth, is it?

I think so, because your conscious mind can never know the truth. It can only know homilies or ideas. What is truth? It's a kind of revelation, it's not a concrete fact like one plus one equals two. That's not truth, that's arithmetic. If you look at a work of art, and there's an identifying spark, that's a revelation. You can't say, "Here's what it's all about; here's what the truth is." Maybe you can't define it. It's just something you experience.

Aren't there truthful artists who meticulously, intellectually work out what they're doing?

Sure, and sometimes the truth comes through in that stuff. If the person has an earnest desire to tell the truth, often he'll plow through all of that intellectual bullshit. If that desire is there, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. It's complicated. A person almost has to be crazy to tell the truth. The mind is really a complicated mess. (60-1)

Sound Porn

Via Boing Boing, a set of mini-movies (NSFW) that focus on sound...or a woman undressing (or both?). They show a model putting on and taking off different outfits in an anechoic chamber. Each of the outfits are made from different unusual materials, so the environment ends up dramatizing the sounds they make. The arty pretense is basically a cover for the bad porn that ensues, but it's interesting to see what eroticizes the videos. The images are too low-res to really reveal anything, so it's really the combination of sound and suggestion that makes them work.

A lot of writing on the nature of sound (I'm thinking mainly of The Tuning of the World, which I mentioned in the post just below this) talk about its impact on defining a space and influencing one's perception of time, but there's something to be said for the fact that there's a sensuality inherent to the act of listening closely to sounds.


Now, I'd like a moment to pause and reflect on the fact that I just wrote an analysis post on porn. Bad porn, no less. I swear this won't happen again.