The Laying of the Cards
Let us talk of core principles. Well, my core principles, anyway. It seems only fair to disclose where I am coming from as a maker and/or artist, so I'll lay out my cards and you can come to your own conclusions.
1. Nearly everything I do is part of a larger attempt to understand. I read and write and make things in order to gain information and figure out how things work. The things I create are much less about "making a statement" or "expressing myself" than they are my way of attempting to digest complicated issues I find interesting but elusive. And while it is tempting to simply consume stories and news and so forth endlessly, I have found that I have to be actively engaged and productive in regards to my interests to have a real grasp on them.
2. I take an anthropological stance on what constitutes art and where meaning is found. Or perhaps more accurately: I am more concerned with cultural output in general and what it tells us about society, and less interested in the philosophical turf wars of art/craft/design. Asking whether or not a piece of jewelry can be art is a reasonable question, but perhaps not the most exciting or compelling one. It is important to think critically about what I/you/we make and why; however, I prefer not to let that become my subject matter in its entirety.
Cultural works are directly related to the cultures they emerge from; the analysis of "things" yields information about the parent culture. This sounds obvious but is worth stating plainly. These cultural products are linked to the technologies of the era and the conventions, both stylistic and philosophical; they may be a reaction against conventions or in support of them, but they are linked nonetheless. Because of the way created works are embedded in culture, their meaning can be found in a network of factors, from how they were made to where they are used. To my mind, making something is a way of examining this network of meanings rather than the issuing a definitive statement.
3. The “object” format is key. “Art” as pure and nonfunctional is a relatively modern concept, and is not inherently more valuable than elaborately wrought functional items. I argue that the object format (versus nonfunctional art objects) is a far richer system to work within that simple sculpture or paint on canvas, as the used object format taps into all kinds of other systems. There is a great deal of power which comes from use value (potential or theoretical), and a wider range of “used” objects than most people realize, particularly when obsolescence is taken into account; what is essential and personal in one age may be a ridiculous affectation in later generations.
Don't take this to mean I am actively hostile towards things like paintings on canvas or stone sculpture; I simply want to clarify why I make the sorts of things I make.