Nov 6, 2013

The Living Text Pt. 2, What Banksy is Telling Me


There's no right or wrong in making, but music is more than just making, music is connecting. With that thought, from my home in Texas, I've been keeping a half-eye on the October Banksy art attack. And though I'm not so much a visual artist,  as a writer I was drawn to something in his work.


Words.

A lot, not all, but a lot of his work involves writing. At the very least the titles, but some works actually incorporate textHe lifted words off the page and put them in a new context, and by doing so has given new life to their meaning. This is not so different as trying to put elements of artful writing into song.

His writing is not poetic. There's nothing drastically interesting in the words, or arrangements. Simple clear statements accompany the meaning of the graphic, but the text is critical to the understanding of the piece, and the work as a whole is saying more. And that's poetic. 


Writers, even the most fore-thinking, are traditionalists. Why else use such an ancient form of communication for your craft? And by being traditionalistic, it becomes hard to adapt. There are many of the global literati, who oppose eBooks as a form of distribution. Who prefer the printed text - Or like me, the handwritten document - Who shy away from changes in dialect, or the improper jumble of texting language. Who see language as right and wrong. There's nothing bad about being so stern, but without change, without adaptation, we risk losing relevance and falling into extinction.

So there's a need to be adventurous with our work. We could start by thinking about writing in different ways. Transmitting in different forms. Don't start to graffiti on my account, but that is one idea. Banksy reached a whole new level of cultural acceptance and notoriety by moving beyond the canvas and onto the streets. More people are seeing his art, not because of content but because of presentation. Because of style. Because of context.

Achieving the sort of immediate viatality most artists crave but will never have. His work isn't in a museum. Not relegated to a small genre trade zine or blog. He is in the news, he is vital. That is not to say good or bad, but alive. It is a great achievement.

As a poet, I chose to move to music to spread my writing. I felt as a songwriter, my writing had a wider audience reach than I ever could as simply a page writer. 

Now I'm thinking about what it means to be a songwriter... How can a band reach a wider audience, in a climate where the doors are closing? Opportunities narrowing. The internet is quickly becoming more and more selective. As does media in general. And audiences too.

I'm not a bandwagoner, don't expect a rap album from us, but it's hard not to ignore what's happening. Are rock bands necessary? How do you compete with DJ's, million dollar pop stars, and a unstable shapless industry?

Banksy might not have an answer specifically useful for musicians or poets, but he does give some inspiring presentation. Proving the world is hungry for creative output. For unique perspectives from artists with the guts to try.



-rene


The street in roar by foot, fire, mesquite
Her tongue jumps from tooth
to sweet tastes sunk in bone.
Bells, un-even hoofs fall, a wooden moan
Head down in the black iron café. Sheathed
No words drawn.
                            Something's are not to-be.

















*Image Source: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1484934!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/banksy15q-3-web.jpg