Project 33

My project falls into the New Forms of Storytelling category, and it involves radio/audio – given my background – but would require the talents of all other sorts of arts journalists as well.

I am often disappointed when stories about visual art, architecture, and photography arise – because the pitch is so quickly followed by a response along these lines: “How can we can do that on the radio? It’s so visual.” And too often, the idea dies there in the room.

We’re right to recognize the challenge, but wrong to easily dismiss the idea. The story of visual art is not so impenetrable; you simply have to descend deeper than the canvas or the two-dimensional design. As any good arts journalist knows, art can’t only be solitary – a pursuit occurring deep within some creative, perhaps eccentric, brain. Arts requires relationships. And relationships offer stories.

I’m reminded of our meeting with architect Thom Mayne, when I was a fellow back in 2006. The most interesting thing he described was not visual, but relational. He designed a federal courthouse, and developed a relationship with the head judge. They debated how artistic vision could be melded with the practical needs and symbols of justice. The story about that building was not the design (in fact, I had no idea what it actually looked like!), but the relationship that grew around the design. It was an aesthetic-judicial journalistic jackpot!

There are so many visual artists in LA – from architects to photographers to painters – developing relationships as they create their art. There are the more expected relationships, like the portraitist and her subject, and the less-explored, such as a painter and the person who cleans her studio. I would like to seek ways to depict those relationships, through audio, but also through other multimedia resources. And that’s where this radio journalist needs help from digital journalists! But to sketch it broadly at least, I could imagine a web page that includes audio storytelling, paired with images of art (an architect’s designs, a painter’s early sketches), along with opportunities for audience interaction, commentary, even manipulatable images. Or — take it beyond digital space into actual space, and create an exhibition depicting an artistic process — with audio on iPods, paired with images, etc.

The architect and his client…

The photographer and her subject…

The found-art sculptor and the guy at the dump who saves the artist all the best trash…

I know the real stories are waiting in LA!