Journal Entry: Mon May 12, 2014, 3:10 PM
Alright, to preface this, be warned that this might be long, boring, pretentious or whiny. I just need to get some things out on paper (as it were) and out of my head. Sorry...
So by now you have all seen "my" Bird of Paradise. This model is really the focal point of a lot of issues that are tied together that have been going through my mind the last couple years. From the description there you can see some of the problems. I'll try to list them here:
1) The base was GIVEN to me. I didn't create it or figure it out or anything. The base is really the key to the model itself, so giving that to me is sort of like giving me a half-finished puzzle. Is it still me that did it in the end? What if the person who did the first half doesn't care about credit? Should I then call it mine and take full credit or should I always call it a collaboration or what?
2) What If I then take that base and make something else? Like a hermit crab instead of a flower? Is it my model then, or was the base still given to me? At what point does the divergence become great enough to matter? What if I make another flower?
3) Finally, what does this mean for traditional bases? What if I take the pig base and create a dog or something? Where does credit go? To what extent is it the guy who shapes the final result or the guy who sets the base that matters?
All of this is what is currently going through my head and why I reached the incredibly decision not to diagram the Bird of Paradise. I have put up the CP for the base as given to me by Joseph Wu, but I will not be putting up the shaping steps. In return, I will continue to call it my design as shorthand and a collab with Joseph for anyone that wants the long version of the story.
For a non-origami allegory, compare it to sampling in music. What if the artist gets permission to sample music and the sampled artist doesn't care about recognition. what does the sampling artist do? Does he not call it his song, or does he always list everyone as "our song"? It seems to vary by artist.
A second issue came to light when I was talking to Joseph that time. One of his big things if you talk to him over a long time is the separation of artist and hobbyist. Basically, everything we do at club, everything most origami hobbyists do is what he refers to as "Origami by Numbers". Just (and this is the key thing) doing diagrams out of books, without being creative, innovative, or even really thinking about what goes into it. For about 15 out of the 21 years I've been doing this hobby, this was me. I never really gave much thought to creating my own things. I am, however, exceptionally good at remembering simple models and folds. Ihave memorized more models than anyone else I know. I can sit there for hours and never repeat myself. Most of the time I can even quote the author. I must have hundreds memorized, but only 3 of them (counting the bird of paradise) are mine.
Forgetting about those threes, am I an artist? I can make things, beautiful things, with origami. On demand I can make you almost any animal you pick out (or an acceptable variation)., but I haven't actually created anything of note. What if I knew how to paint, but I could only paint Picasso's Guernica, Monet's scene by the lake and a print by Frank Lloyd Wright. I could do any of them perfectly on demand, but if I tried to sit in front of an easel and paint something in front of me, or even out of my head I froze and it looked terrible? Am I still an artist at that point or am I a hobbyist?
(Yes, I know that comparison is terrible, but I wanted to pick examples most people would know)
I would argue no. I am not an artist at that point. But then, is it enough? That s still a fantastic skill, and one that many people would love to have, but is it enough for the painter in questions to be considered a painter? This is the core question I've been trying to resolve in my ind. What do I want to get out of Origami? Do I want it to be a hobby or an art form for me?
Does it even matter?
For now, I feel like the fact that I am even trying to question this is a good first start. Looking at something that I identify as a core "thing" in my life and questioning what exactly I want to get out of it rather than just letting it just passively sit there... It seems important.
But ya. Other than that life couldn't really be better! And really, if all I have to worry about is how to separate the art and the artist, do I really have anything worth complaining about?