Video above with acknowledgements to Stan Dickinson with whom I am collaborating on a new project and which this video is a very early product.
Not many people are graduands for long. In the great scheme of things one rolls over from an undergraduate to a graduate in what is a relatively short period. And indeed it will be so for me, I will look back and think well you were an undergraduate and then you graduated and the inter regnum will dissipate in relevance and importance. However I am there now and it feels odd. I feel b’twixt and b’tween. It’s not that I feel one thing or another, in many respects I feel fledged and yet I know that equally in many other respects I am at the very start of the expedition. The significant filter to all of this is that how I feel depends on the company I am keeping.
The previous two days have been on an Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software training course and I knew I was an ‘other’ to all those others on the course. The course leader is a ‘Freelance’ video editor and the others (five) on the course all had a commercial purpose to be on the course. The range of occupations were quite diverse, but all had the same fundamental reason to be where they – and me – were on the course. They needed to incorporate a technical capability to enhance their earning potential, they needed to enhance their ‘tool-box’ to make themselves more commercially attractive within their chosen professions. All very understandable.
The course leader was extremely capable, confident and knowledgeable about the product and answered all but one question – an esoteric question on the subject of audio – with confident ease and in an easy way. He was very good at his job. And part of that job was to monetize the functional aspects of the software to us students such that we appreciated how to be more efficient with our time as ‘time is money’.
I lost count of how many times this mantra regarding time and money was delivered. The compound of effort and reward seemed as structurally important to the majority of participants as was the functionality of the Adobe App’. My first encounter with the tutor on this note was when he answered a question I raised and he seemed aghast that I wasn’t using ‘keyboard’ shortcuts for actions as he stressed to me; “it has been proven by statistics that keyboard short-cuts can save up to 40% editing time!” I suppose I didn’t express a great deal of encouragement as he seemed nonplussed by my lack of enthusiasm to take up the keyboard cudgels. It has to be said that inexperience with that keyboard was partly to blame for my continuing with a mouse (something I also don’t use very much in my own studio). But his continued assertion that he was providing tuition that not only explained the App’ but which was done from a commercially and professionally sensitive perspective, had me thinking. I considered around this rush of time that he was advocating saving and it appeared to me that, of course it made a great deal of sense from his perspective. After all a professional editor, working to a brief, will need to adopt a workflow that is as efficient as possible, after all ‘time is money’.
I knew I felt differently. I thought about my ‘work-flow’, about how the seemingly slovenly process enabled me to have a conversation with the work as I proceeded. Sometimes that conversation has been vitriolic, as I have struggled to master some technique or other, but overall I feel that the time-sloppy process which has been developed under my own steam has worked for me.
And so I seem to have discovered what it was that made me different to my fellow students and that was the purpose and intent of the use of the tool. And in the discovery it determined to me that I found out something about myself that I wasn’t aware of before, or rather the something, that had changed. Firstly during the introduction I felt I could describe myself as an artist – in the “John, tell us all about yourself…” introductory session at the start of the two day event for all students on the course, I felt comfortable in that description. And although I did feel that self-description laid on me certain expectations from the rest, about what it was, or indeed, why it was, that I was at the course. But more importantly it was about the work, about the structure of the process of work and why I was doing work. I realised I welcomed the opportunity to spend time with work. It wasn’t about making work to fulfill a brief, it was about making work to understand why I was making work in order to make more work around the subject I was curious about. And that was it. That was the difference between those commercially focused students who wanted, for very good reason, to master a process that add-value to their practice for commercial opportunities and for me who wanted to comprehend the tool for what it might reveal about the work I was trying to make.
My name is John and I am an artist and very soon a graduate artist.