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

thoughts + feelings

58: Adjusted Adaptation

The week before an exhibition opening is either the calm before the storm or the hurricane itself. It’s been three years since my first solo exhibition and now a new opportunity presented itself. Four months of work led up to this day and in three hours the grand unveiling would be over, left to open gallery hours attendees and an artist talk. Opening night is to the wedding as the exhibition run is to the marriage ~ the pizazz is left to the former, but the unglamorous yet satisfying work left to the latter.

Oh great, that wall that was supposed to show my projection doesn’t work in daylight.

Where can I find a Thunderbolt to HDMI converter?

I really hope these LCDs I bought overseas work properly.

Every setback became a test in adaption. There needed to be a balance between play and structure rather than the chokehold I placed on my time leading to the opening. The signs of self-created pressure swirled around me. Panic led to a midnight long stroll in the gallery space, which my delirious mind thought was a great idea but resulted in three days of extended sickness, unfocused ideas, and anxiety that drove me inward. Four hours of sleep wasn’t a badge of honor but a hinderance that threw me off. I knew something had to change.

An article made its way into my delirious line of sight—a self-help guide to artists by sculptor Carol Bove. Her suggestion to read The Four Hour Work Week made me pivot in disbelief, believing it to be mere rubbish with my pessimism ruling out the idea. My curiosity got the best of me and I downloaded a copy and completed it quickly, coming across the thought process of definitive action with a blend of throwing caution in the wind and loosening that chokehold.

Trying to control everything and everyone around you really messes with your outlook and process. Daily curiosities become lost and what helps you make decisions vanish because you are too busy trying to make everything work in your box, like pushing down on someone’s chest expecting them to breathe easier. Expectations guide you to where you want to be, but believing you can control the full outcome of any situation under your own control is foolish. All the scenarios that filled my head with worry during installation did not come true once the opening came about—it actually turned out even better.

What did I find interesting this week?

★ On The Road With Hannibal Buress, Comedy’s Most Feared Slacker: A long form interview with the comedian with beautiful photography.

“When he’s not on stage, he’s withdrawn and disarmingly quiet, almost to the point of seeming perpetually bored. As his friend and collaborator Eric Andre tells me later, ‘He’s the lowest key on the piano.’”

★ Work versus Life. Greatness versus Family: One of the pieces that inspired this week’s letter.

“As artists, we are at the bleeding edge of a technological bell curve which is slowly spanning the entire population. We’ve been placed at the peak of a pyramid 10,000 years tall, and we act like we can’t call a truce with our inboxes for long enough to go spend meaningful time with our kids.”

★ Avery Trufelman, The Art of Podcasting No. 4: An interview with one of my favorite podcast producers, 99% Invisible’s Avery Trufelman.

“My friend told me that Neil deGrasse Tyson is also a ballroom dancer and has a vest collection. I was like, “Man, I wish I had something that really lit my fire.” It would be podcasts, yes, but it feels weird to say because that is my job. But it is what I do. When I go home, when I wake up in the morning and I make coffee, I listen to a podcast. When I stumble home from a party, I listen to a podcast. I love podcasts.”

★ Listen to Baseball on the Radio: On deep relaxation and focused listening.

“My experience is that the slowness of the games, combined with the lack of visual stimuli, can be, at first, excruciating. If I stick with it, however, my mind eventually downshifts — quieting the noisy neuronal clamoring for easy entertainment, and leaving instead an unencumbered attention of a type that I often seek in my work.”

What do I have coming up?

☞ A new episode of Cher Vincent and myself’s podcast, Open Ended, will be released on Wednesday. Our previous episode, “The Human Element” explores death and memorials within social media. Find it on iTunes, or subscribe in your podcast player of choice.

Thanks for reading and have a great week,

-James

James T. Green