Working With Dreams As Found Objects
Making objects and images just for their esthetic value,
I have a collection of pelts from local birds that I have skinned and cured after finding them dead by the roadside or under a window or on the beach or which friends have given to me. I have a collection of little pieces of rusty wire that I call "My Found Line Collection".
I have a big box full of hundreds of rattlesnake skin fragments. I have boxes full of shells, shards, and linoleum fragments. I love the linoleum fragments! I have all sizes. Some have appeared in drawings I have done. I have a collection of flattened metal toys and tin cans. I have drawers full of old typewriter and sewing machine parts.
I have a box full of pencil stubs. I have boxes full of springs and metal fittings of all kinds, boxes of beads and some containing small elegant bits of driftwood. I also collect wood and metal boxes of all sizes. I save pieces of used wood and lumber of every size and shape that I happen to encounter.
Perhaps my favorite of all collections is my twig collection: mostly birch, some pine, bay and maple. All are from trees that I have cut down or pruned. I spend more time deciding how to cut up the twigs and branches into smaller pieces than I do doing the actual pruning. Deciding how to cut up a pruned branch is another kind of discovery. It is like releasing or freeing shapes that were hiding in the trees. After they are all cut up into unique and more manageable shapes and sizes then I carefully strip and cure each piece. Having my twig collection makes me feel wealthy.
Dreams as Found Objects
I also have a collection of dreams and just as with my other collections of found objects, there is always room for more treasure.
Discovering dreams is just as exciting as discovering magnificent found objects. Surprising, unexpected and unsullied by pre-conceptions or planning, dreams can be trusted.
When I trust the dream, never doubt or question it, just pay attention and take notes as carefully as I can, I am often able to bring the essence of the dream and dreamworld into the waking world via an object or image or poem or movement or a combination of these forms.
Because dreams arise in me without any control or direction on my part, I can trust them to be honest, to be true and original. When the content or intent of an object or image that I am working with arises, not from dream but instead from cleverness, intellectual or aesthetic skill or from pre-conceived plans, ideas or designs, I experience the work as being without spirit. Dead.
When I look at one of my works that is not filled with the honesty or special sense of freshness that comes from dream (and other found material), I can't tolerate it. But I do not always have dream material handy to help me out, so over the years, I have had to search for other sources and inspirations that can reveal that sense of the unexpected and help me to possibly get a glimpse of the truth when dream is not available. These sources and methods include my mottos and allies ("Flaws," "Umbiliforms" and "The Spilling of Dark Waters") and processes like "draw-so-fast-you-can't-think."
When the foundation or impetus for a work comes from dream and the dreamworld, it can be trusted. When I trust the dream, never doubt or question it, just observe and take notes as carefully as I can, then (depending on my ability to bring the fragile substance of the dream into the waking world without destroying it in the process) , the dream essence stays alive just enough to infuse the work with honesty. If I recognize the work as somehow mirroring the dreamworld, then it can stay. If not, I let go of it and it falls apart.
I apply this same attitude to my other sources, found materials and processes. I never doubt or question the gifts they bring that are inherent in their nature. The more unexpected and surprisingly fresh or strange those gifts happen to be, so much the better.
The Only True Originality is Honesty.