On Selling Out

While cutting together the footage for one of my recent shorts, Trapped in a Time Loop, I ran into a problem that has plagued me since starting this project. The problem of who the project is for. Is it for me? Or for an audience? Or both? Should I focus on making it more palatable? Faster paced? More obvious in meaning? More exciting? More frightening? Should I focus on dumbing it down? Appealing to more people?

The idea of “selling out” in art is one so old as to be trite. It is the derisive phrase thrown out at any successful artist by early fans and jealous failed creators. “You only got popular because you sold out”, “Your early stuff was much better”, “I wish they made art instead of this main stream crap”. Commonly heard from the mouths of those never presented the opportunity to sell out.

To me, selling out is a question of audience. I started this project with no audience in mind. In fact I wanted to make the content, the art, as unappealing to the very idea of an audience as possible. I wanted to make something that was more than just “noise” but was still repulsive. I wanted to make me.

Or how I view myself. I see myself, when I am at my very worst, as this disgusting, annoying, pitiful, horrible human being that no one in their right mind could possibly want to be around. I imagine the world sees me as I see me, I distance myself from friends and family so as not to embarrass and burden them with my presence.

I wanted to make art that reflected this. That was so bad it could never find an audience. That was just as pitiful, disgusting, annoying, boring, and horrid as I am. Or how I see myself when I am at my worst.

On the surface that seems easy but I didn’t want to make it easy. See, I don’t look like a monster in real life I just feel like one. People aren’t immediately repulsed by me and my otherness. Not until they actually get to converse with me do they begin to hate me as much as I hate me. So I needed to create something that was bad but not in an obvious way.

It would be too easy to just record ten minutes of static and crank a high pitch whine over the visual. Too easy to make something immediately repulsive. It needed to be more subtle than that.

That is what this started as. A subtle recreation of how I see me. Bland, boring, briefly dark but mostly just too drawn out and over all a nuisance. Annoying and just kind of, there. Nothing more.

That was also why it needed to be put on YouTube. Yes I could have created art that was just for me and never published a thing but that would not be honest to the project. The project needed to prove it could find no audience and in that I succeeded.

Just as I succeeded in life.

I have a few people in life that like me and love me, even as this horrible creature that I believe myself to be. A few people that have stuck around or were even drawn to me as some kind of anomaly. People who see past my veil of self loathing. But they are few, most people are repulsed by me over time. I am too different, too out there, too dangerous, too annoying to have around.

The same can be said of my content. It found an audience. People that like it despite how horrible it is. People that see something good in there. People that can see through the veil.

Self analysis is boring though. Self analysis is the last refuge of a bad artist, so I guess that’s why I am here, self analyzing. Circling back to the point though.

Over the years this project has lasted I have lost and picked up this central thread a few times. Going through long bouts of questioning why I was even doing this when no one wanted to watch it. Why I was deliberately making bad art. Then I would try to make something more mainstream appealing, fail at it and fall back into the comfort of recreating me.

I forgot what this was about. It is not about views, not about getting big, not about finding an audience. It is about being there. About shoving my horrible, boring, hated self in the face of the world. It is an act of survival. An act of self preservation. Externalizing these ideas I hold about myself.

Sometimes I forget that and during those times I find it hardest to create. Because this has never been about finding an audience. It has been about repelling one so that the only viewers left are the ones that really matter. It is a filter.

That is what I realized as I slogged through the edit of “Trapped in a Time Loop”, that is what I remembered as it sprawled into a much longer piece than it would be if it were made to be palatable.

This is me. This is how I see me. This is all a self portrait. If you hate it, if you think it is bad or you see no reason for it to exist then good. That is the point.

We are all pointless. That is what this is. There is no point. No goal. No end. Just endless existence. The ultimate hell. Let us all fall into the fire together.

Then again, self analysis is the worst kind of masturbation. I honestly don’t know. I am just making shit and trying to survive while finding a meaning to keep kicking. If you are here reading this and watching along my deepest thanks and love. You are what matters. Thank you.

-Cecond Percon 

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