James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

83: What a time to be alive

The Fieldwork: "What a time to be alive"

As I write this, Chicago is experiencing the Architectural Biennial. If you’ve visited our fine city, or lucky enough to live here, we have the best commercial and residential design. Our public spaces could use some work, however. Anyway, my wife and I decided to visit one of the programming events that graced the south side of Chicago, the exhibition Forms of Imagination1. The themes explored in this body of work stepped into the minds of designers and architects while they developed work and collaborative efforts to enhance the history and beauty of Chicago’s south side.

The panel discussion that accompanied the exhibition gathered these designers and architects to explain their thinking and process behind the work that stood steps away from us, and provided enough talking points to fill up the bits and bytes that make up my notebook. As a fine reader of this lovely letter, I’d love to share with you the notes I made with thoughtful expansions.

“Nothing really lasts forever. Things fall apart.“

There was mention of creating a public sculpture that would act not only as a haven for live performance but exist beyond one time use. Creating for longevity but eventually decaying made me think about the hope of art, digital and physical, lasting forever. Eventually we will all be forgotten. Artists fade out of memory, servers become corrupted, objects decay beyond restoration. What we can control is the temporary longevity of what we own and create through using sustainable materials that last the test of time, building websites and digital objects responsibly, and sharing what you learn so they spread beyond a singular space.

“You are the company you keep.”

More things are created in the spirit of collaboration rather than selfishness. Whether leaving the house in search of a new routine and bumping into an old friend, or intentionally seeking a collaborator, these collision points are crucial. So much of thinking is thought to exist in a vacuum but it is quite the opposite. Having others point out weak arguments is critical to growth.2

”…The history and culture of a space”

This is always why I’ve found the designs of Starbucks and Apple retail fascinating. Both keep in mind where their stores exist and integrate with the spaces they inhabit. Both follow strong brand guidelines, but their exteriors fit and scale to a variety of implementations, from shared spaces on cobble-stoned streets to city corner flagships. Relating back to Chicago, there’s importance in connectivity designing for integration within south side communities, while keeping in mind the history and culture that exists both in the past and present.

"Separate the stigma of imagination.”

The best projects and ideas come from going “all the way to the left.” I’ve noticed it, especially when catching up with friends, that social media kills a shit-ton of ideas before they start, mainly because the fear of outrage. There’s always a niche for a left-field idea; eventually you’ll find those that enjoy it. The wide connectivity of the internet makes it easy to find your fans and haters.

————————————————————————————————————

This Week’s Magazine Clippings

★ “How Silence Became the Ultimate Luxury Good”: I’m interested in what are contemporary forms of status symbols in the age of hoodie-clad millionaires and subtle, well-made goods. What is the equivalent in a non-physical sense? A 6 minute read.

★ “Objectifying Our Digital Lives”: A review of a Portland, Oregon-based exhibition that explores online interactions and objects. My favorite part: “A tremendous benefit to the art community and cultural growth of a city that enjoys repurposing the past rather than inventing the future.” A 5 minute read.

★ Drinking Alone: This article doesn’t act as a eulogy to the neighborhood bar, but instead gives it time in the light. Properly explaining the “dive bar” and how it’s not the same as your corner watering hole, and investigating newer “authentic” bars was well worth the read. A 7 minute read.

★ Mow the Lawn: “Life is a succession of tasks rather than a cascade of inspiration, an experience that is more repetitive than revelatory, at least on a day-to-day basis. The thing is to perform the task well and find reward even in the mundane.” A 3 minute read.

★ Which iOS Content Blocker is the Fastest?: If you are interested in what content blockers are and which ones are the best, this is the most comprehensive and consistent write up on the internet. A 2 minute read.

————————————————————————————————————

Updates

★ I have two slots open for design and development work between October - December of this year. If you are in need or know of any leads, contact me.

★ Hot damn, this Wednesday will be episode 23 of Cher Vincent and myself’s podcast, Open Ended. We vaguely talk about humanity and tech from the black perspective, but mostly we trade jokes and talk about ratchetness of our surrounding world. It’s honestly a great weekly release. This week we’ll be chatting with Sabella Flagg of Mac & Row, but you can check out our last episode ‘Rent’s Still Due on the First’ on our websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep the lights on.

★ If you’re into owning some art, I’ve got a few framed prints of a piece I created recently, “we(act)," for sale. If you are interested in having some art of mine in your home or studio, reply to this email so we can chat!

————————————————————————————————————

Support The Studio Visit Letters

These letters take roughly 24 hours a month between writing, editing, fact-checking, and adding items to the archive. Consider sending a one-time donation and becoming a member starting at a dollar a month.

A wonderful and heartfelt thank you to the 14 supporters this week:

Stewart, Molly, Alexandra, Alexandria, Jennifer, Joelle, David, Jessica, Chad, Will, Eboni, Jayson, Subi, Allyson, and Revision Path.

You keep this boat a float. We made this month’s goal of $250! Thank you for sponsoring.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

————————————————————————————————————

  1. A point of transparency: The University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life program is one of my clients, and I partnered to develop the print materials, typography, and social media for the exhibition. If you think this is a very in-depth native advertisement for the show, you’re nuts and should probably take off your tin foil hat. You should check it out anyway, it’s a beautiful collection of work. 

  2. The invite is always open for feedback and criticism. It’s just a reply away. 

James T. Green