When I left my silicon valley job to be an artist no evidence existed that this was something I could actually do. Armed with the willfully utopian ideals of the software industry, my plan was to learn everything on the internet.
You can learn anything on the internet.
For years I surprised myself with the truth of the claim. I began by searching:
How do you stretch a canvas?
How do you paint clouds?
How do you draw hands?
How do you write an artist statement?
The resulting artwork led me to complete projects or exhibitions with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The V&A museum in London, and the British Film Institute, and also convinced Billy Childish take me on as a studio apprentice.
Then I started to hit walls. Critics of all persuasions sought opportunity to tell me:
You haven't been in this game long enough to know how to play.
You don’t know who you are as an artist.
You lack the credentials.
I had found some open doors but those shutting in my face were concerned with an abstract idea of what I didn’t know, what they assumed I couldn't understand given the origins of my online education.
I could not search, “What the hell do I do now?”
In college I’d been a varsity track captain on an athletic scholarship for the mile I could run in 4:40. Running suited me because of how closely effort in related to success out. My bias, the way I was raised reinforced by the mythologize stories proliferated in my culture, is to believe that all such bootstrapping approaches to change, and advancement as change, are possible. Initially applying this approach to art through more paintings, more time in the studio, more effort, seemed to be working out. But then I felt cornered, if not stuck.
No longer able to muscle through with an athlete mentality, no longer about to google “how to be an artist” I turned to the question of what can and cannot be learned through the internet, explicitly through YouTube video learning. The result is both performative and visual, physical (my increased flexibility, onions cut without crying, french braided hair) and digital (endlessly looping gifs documenting my actions). The gif is used as a medium of endless repetition suggestion the notion of “practice makes perfect” where time, energy, and motivation are the only limitations to success.
You can learn everything on the internet?
This project investigates the validity and shortcomings of such a claim. What else have the the internet and technology promised? If it isn’t effort or access to information that limits us, what is it? Undertones of genetic, social, family, and class privilege run through the question.