Re-learning the Point of Art

“Why do I do this?” That was the question the plagued me near the end. The end of the first phase of this whole project. I don’t know another way to put it but looking back I see that it was the end of phase one. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Phase one of this project but also a phase in my life. Burned out is not the right phrase but it is the closest one I have. I was just fried and so fried I couldn’t even see how toasted I was. My neurons were raw and my nerve endings so shredded they bled. I had nothing left and found myself asking more and more that same question, “why do I do this?”

For years I had been working endlessly on this project. Filming, writing, editing, learning all while working a full time job and getting married and starting a family. I spent hours a day working on each daily upload. Recording voice over, capturing footage, planning shots, writing new pieces, creating the music and editing it all together.

I loved it. I felt I had finally found a passion. I entered a few narrative driven shorts into some back-water film festivals and actually got some recognition. Or so I thought, most likely it was recognition that I had paid my entry fee, I doubt any person ended up actually seeing my film. I never went to the festivals. I didn’t have the time or the money.

That was the other thing. I was funding this whole thing. Filming got expensive. I bought all the gear, between cameras, lenses, lights, props, backgrounds, tripods, gimbals, and the endless list of tools and accessories I was broke. I dumped every dime I had to spare into this.

And it was all for me and me alone. I never found the audience I felt was out there. People in my life that I shared these with were either confused or made uncomfortable by them. I admit that is kind of the point of these, but it was still hard to accept. I stopped sharing my creations with people I knew. Stopped looking for an audience. Anyone that saw what I made didn’t like it.

And if I am honest, there is nothing to like. None of these were good in the true sense of the word. There is nothing good about these little visual poems. These short films. These weird snippets of sound and light. There is nothing enjoyable. If I am being honest they are not as good as I thought they were. They really are just bad little experiments from an amateur artist. An amateur with no training and no natural talent or skill.

I was literally just dumping time and money away, gaining nothing. Just running on a treadmill, but at least with a treadmill you can get fit. I was getting nothing. And slowly that question got louder and louder, “why do I do this?”

I couldn’t stop though. I still can’t. I enjoy this. I lost that for a moment there, but now I am finally realizing that there doesn’t need to be anything else. I just enjoy this and that’s all there is to it. I got so caught up in seeking an audience, in feeling like a failure each time my videos failed to get any views. So caught up in hoping to grow to a point where I could do this full time that I lost the plot.

These aren’t for anyone. These are for me. I do this because I enjoy it. I started this because I needed to create. I had this idea and wanted to actually bring it to life. I have done that and am doing that. I don’t need anyone else to see it or like it or watch it. I like the process. I like creating these. I find satisfaction in each upload.

“So why even share it?” Is another question I would ask myself. If these are truly just for me why even upload them to YouTube? Clearly there was a part of me that still was seeking validation. I don’t think that is true though. I don’t feel that need, at least not any more. But I still feel the need to upload. I think it is because the channel is a part of the art. A place for all the final copies to live and link to one another. A place for them to interact with the algorithm and bots and occasional lost person. I think sharing art is the part that really makes it art. Otherwise these are just like model trains or home movies, a hobby. This is not a hobby, this is art.

And art needs to be shared in order to be art. That is why I upload. It feels like the final piece that turns these from me just being weird with a camera and a mic, to me producing art. In the back of my mind I always think that maybe, out there, one person has come across a piece of mine. Watched it and felt something. I see the view counts, not every video is at zero.

Maybe I had some kind of impact on a life. I took my passion, my thoughts, my energy and projected it out into the world enacting a small change on another life. That there is some possibility of that having happened or happening in the future. That is why I need to share them. That is what makes it more than a hobby. I have hobbies, this is something more. That is why I keep coming back to it. That is why I can never really leave.

I burned out. Got lost in all the questions. Got lost in the need for an audience the need for some external validation. I fell into a hole where each video made me feel more and more like a failure. Like I had wasted my life, my time and money on something so silly and pointless and embarrassing. That I was an embarrassment. I linked out my content to my real life in an attempt to find some kind of audience with friends and family and that was the biggest mistake I made in this whole project. That was what finally had me quit for a while.

Never again. They don’t care enough to actively keep track of my channel and it has been long enough that I can start posting again knowing they won’t watch. I have done what I can to un-link my real life identity from this second identity, the same way I had it when I started. It is not as anonymous as it was but I know the people in my life and I know they won’t seek this out. They have gotten bored with pretending to care.

So I am free to create again. I feel the drive to create again. I think I finally understand, truly understand, why I do this. It is not for getting an audience, not for making money, not so that I can do it full time, not to make anyone proud and not to accomplish anything. I do it because I enjoy it. Because it makes me feel like I created something. Because it is art. Simply art. And it needs to be made.

Creation for no profit driven purpose. Creation for the sake of creation. That is what’s cool about Humans. We are Gods. We can create things for no other reason than to just do it. That is the point of art, to remind us that we are the Gods we invented. We have gotten lost in the need to have everything generate profit and serve a purpose. In this drive to get rich and get fame and find an audience. Creation for creations sake, that is what makes us unique in the animal world. That is what makes us Gods.

And this project is a reminder of that for me. It is creation. It is purpose. It is mine.

“Why do I do this?”

“Because I can!”