It’s one thing to question and challenge existing conventions in art, and an entirely different thing to form a whole new art movement that was “a violent and cynical cry which displayed our sense of rebellion, our deep-rooted disgust, our haughty contempt for vulgarity, for academic and pedantic mediocrity, for the fanatical worship of all that is old and worm-eaten.” I found much of the intensely passionate language in the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting amusing, even though some of the words they used in the numbered manifesto section remind me of Tea Party lingo: “despised”, “tyranny”, “demolish”, “harmful”, “madman”, “destroy”. I also found many statements paradoxical in that they were rebelling against the rules of art while insisting on dogmatic new rules, for instance “Divisionism, for the modern painter, must be an innate complementariness which we declare to be essential and necessary. Overall, I think this manifesto placed too much emphasis on what the artists were fighting against (demanding for instance the “total suppression of the nude in painting”) and not enough on what they wanted to create.
Of course there are many statements and ideas in this manifesto that I find inspiring and that I want to integrate in my work — that humans are not opaque and should be represented as part of a larger environment; that non-humans or inanimate objects are worthy of the same degree of representation in art; that everything we see with our eyes is in constant flux; and that there is a “universal vibration” that we’re all part of. This phrase is beautiful, in relation to the light and colors of human skin: “green, blue and violet dance upon it with untold charms, voluptuous and caressing” and it reminds me of impressionism in 20th century European art, along with the ways in which lighting can transform the human image on video or film. In terms of non-humans being worthy of artistic representation, I certainly feel this way about the hermit crabs that I have been documenting — they have transformed in my eyes from vivarium bio-sensors to fascinating creatures with distinct personalities and behaviors I can relate to (sharing, watching out for each other, exploring, and even showing off). “On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid vibrations, in their mad career.” The truth of our ever-changing reality makes me think of kinetic sculptures, video art, and persistence-of-vision displays, all of which I’m interested in exploring and combining. Lastly, the universal vibration makes me think of “new age” artwork that attempts to depict energy and divine forces. I tried to create “energy ripples” in video through last year but didn’t quite end up with the effect I wanted. “Your eyes, accustomed to semi-darkness, will soon open to more radiant visions of light.” Somewhat cheesy and presumptuous, but the idea of creating work that helps others to peel away filters from their eyes containing expectations and preconceived notions pushes me forward.