As a boy I was afraid to cause trouble. I'm not sure whether it had to do with getting in trouble or being perceived as being
"bad" and I'm not sure it matters. The result is that I am a good mediator, a good negotiator. I can navigate
trouble and avoid being detected. I can make myself invisible. Being invisible has advantages. Conscious of qualification,
I know that invisibility allows me to be subversive. It can allow one to fly under radar and seem to blend into paradigms.
It has power. Like all power, it can be abused and I remind myself that its a skill cultivated by spies and those who wish
to subvert subversion.
When I realized that I had a predilection, no, I had an obsessive need to avoid trouble, to be invisible it must have
been around the age of reason, so let's say twelve and in the fifth grade I became obsessed with this little self-discovery.
I was also scared and sure that something was wrong with me, that I was weak. This knowledge terrified me because it separated
me from the socially sanctioned masculinity that I was supposed to be developing and that I saw so aggressively developing
in my boy-peers. Now rising in me was a twinned terror of being in trouble for asserting myself and being ostracized for
suppressing myself. Of course, the reflection inherent in these words is from adult perspective, cultivated through years
of experience, therapy, art-making and reflection; yet, it's useful for making meaning about socially constructed gauntlets
through which we all pass. I can easily turn the reflection around and theorize about the struggles and pain experienced by
my boy-peers who were good at being male, at looking trouble in the eye and transcending the "consequences" meted
out by teachers and parents. Yet, this knowledge is unsatisfying and attempts to explain away the human experience by universalizing
it and, as a consequence, creating a palliative of normality.
Fitting in, being good, normality are early lessons, absorbed without the benefit of reason or the skills of analysis.
We learn to interpret signals that connote righteousness before we learn to say words, express desires that might actually
have social consequences. We are taught to conform to ideas and expectations that form brackets around our development and
our growth. More sharply, we learn to embrace the brackets that are drawn around us. They define.
As an adult, as an artist I seek to be seen.
Am I an idealist?
I often wonder about that. I try to contain it, as I have been taught to do, accepting, in the stead of idealism, what
is offered. Its easier to accept what's there, whether it be the silencing of shame or the privilege of skin color and gender.
Still, I am discontent. I am hungry; I want to take risks.
So how does a scared boy learn to take risks? How do we shed the layers of containment, fear and isolation that have
informed our lives? How do we develop voice? For the record, it's not a scared little boy who makes this statement, but rather
a person who has taken risks, engaged change and who seeks to build a life that is focused on being in the world. Practice,
engagement, and process are familiar words that I often use, but my art practice reminds me to reexamine these words, to interrogate
them and to assume no complacency in accepting them as neutral or benign. These words are dangerous. They can not be coupled
with the skills of invisibility that I mastered as a child. They demand voice.
I have a web site. I believe that its nature is truer than that of books. Sure, you can't believe everything you encounter
on the Internet, but its nature is more real than the authority of traditional texts. Books deceive, they essentialize and
force linear perception. They are closed. Web sites are iterative, non-linear, confusing. Maybe it's my impulse to resist
containment that leads me to this conclusion? Perhaps not. As a medium for making meaning, for theorizing, for producing
art, the web allows for re-invention, it trusts that life is never closed. It's hopeful. It doesn't have the impulse to
contain ideas, to horde in libraries, in archives, in collections.
My work is available on the web. My site is called "real." It reflects my belief that life is messy, ideas
are in process, theory is transitory. Work develops, speaks with the past and dreams the future. It's a strategy in transparency,
to make my process and practice more open that it would be in a studio, in a community, in an audience. It allows my development
to be seen -- with all it's contradictions, flaws in logic, missteps, failures and successes.
I don't know who visits my site. I know where I advertise it, I know that I am developing an audience of people who are
potentially asking the same questions as I am. I set bait around the net -- for queer people, artists, intellectuals, for
people who share my passions. My participation in Internet communities increases visits to my site. Again, it's like life,
the more you attempt to connect, the more connection you receive. It's a lie that the net is passive, a network of databases
and hyperlinks. It's a trail of breadcrumbs. It requires involvement, engagement to provoke dialogue. It's like real life,
so don't listen to naysayers who predict the end of the world because of Internet addiction, withdrawal, et cetera, et cetera.
Just because it's not physical doesn't mean it's not real.