I remember as a kid I would make all sorts of things. In fact, a lot of my childhood memories are of me making things. I would collect cardboard boxes, toilet roll tubes, newspapers – you name it – and I had grand visions for it all. One that really stands out was a papier-mâché dinosaur, about as tall as me at the time. I particularly remember making the eyes: I used little transluscent amber half-spheres that were part of a packaging tray for some sort of sweet. A black line down the middle, and they made pretty convincing dinosaur eyes.
The thing about all this stuff that I made as a kid, is that I had no reason to be making it. There was no justification, no rhyme or reason, just the means and will to do so. I sit now, on a bus to Portobello beach, my plan to collect some starfish that fell victim to a recent freak wash-up on the shore there. I’ve already collected a bunch of drift wood, rope, and even a few sea-bird skulls, which will all come together to make whatever it is I’m making.
At this age, I feel much more inclined to have some sort of justification for what I’m doing – an explanation for my making. Even implicitly, and quite automatically, I’ll turn it in to some bigger project, perhaps with the end goal of putting on an exhibition of this stuff, or selling it. These automatic justifications mean little, as they serve only as a way for me to make sense of my behaviour; why can’t I just me making for the sake of making any more?
If others were to ask what I’m doing, or were to inquire why, I’d give them all sorts of justifications, too. “I’m an artist working on a new project” I might say, hoping it renders the situation copacetic. It’s perhaps quite a natural thing to explain something in its greater context, and to provide meaning and structure to our behaviour. It’s what underlies this sort of action that intrigues me though.
Who are we trying to ‘make sense’ to? Ourselves? Other people? Some abstract concept we have built up of ourselves? At the end of the day, I have no idea why I do the things I do; I can rationalize it of course, but that’s just meaning-making. That’s just seeing patterns.
Don’t get too tied up in the stories we tell each other, or ourselves, cause hell… they’re just stories.