Working With And Against Limitations

So, here I am, starting a blog. You’d think it’s only a matter of time, what with my abundant hipsterdom. The beard, barista job, and collection of questionable tattoo’s only serves this point. Not to mention my ‘art’. That’s the reason I’m here though, in text form, writing, to whoever may be reading this.

Today I want to talk about limitations, how it’s influenced and impacted my art, as well as the importance of it throughout my life. 

I believe limitations are the most powerful tool at our disposal, as artists, people, whatever. Without limitation we’re faced with the infamous ‘paradox of choice’, there was even a study on that, using jam (link here).

With limitations, we’re able to make decisions. And with those decisions we reach articulation. Let me explain-

Articulation is the root of all art. Whether it be a film, song, painting, sketch, and anything else.

All art is an articulation of ideas.

Sure there’s art that’s prominent for its technical abilities (a beautiful example of that is here), but even that is arguably an articulation of ideas. However obvious or subtle, it’s an articulation (even if the idea is simplistic). 

Now, limitations. With limitless ideas, we’re only limited in how we articulate them. This is where the importance comes in. If you had a dream about a man on a hill, slowly fishing from a branch on a tree, how would you articulate that?

If you’re a painter you’d pick up the brush. If you’re a writer you’d sit with a notebook, or a typewriter. If you’re a musician you can even pick up your instrument (or sit down at it, for those pianists), and let that idea guide your creation. 

If you involve yourself in all these practices, you might never get the idea down (ironic for me to say, I know). Or it might not be the best result. If you’d spent all that time deciding and ruminating, the idea can leave. 

When I started this name ‘Strings Speak Mountains’, I only made ambient music with one guitar. All my early work was made with heavy limitations. The best example of this is my album Broken Can Be Beautiful, which was recorded at a public piano (which was breaking down, and has since broken more), using the microphone on my smartphone. 

Right now, I’m printing and advertising my new book/zine titled ‘UKB’. This project is abound with limitations. I’m printing everything myself, with a $5 printer I found in a second-hand shop. I’ve done everything myself, which is a heavy limitation. When you only have so much money, you can only do so much (and too much relies on money to be done).

Though, there’s always a workaround.

Working with the limitation of  money can create a perfectly individual project. All you need is the idea, and the willpower.

My final note here. Did you know you can make a photograph using your own homemade camera, for under $5? There’s this thing called a ‘camera obscura’ or a pinhole camera. I’ve recently found some old photographic paper. There are 100 sheets, and it was $3. The box it comes in can be light sealed, and the sheets of paper can record the photograph.

The chemistry behind it is fascinating. Obviously it’s not as cheap as taking a photo on your smartphone. But the accessibility of analog photography (if you’re keen to look past the fact that it’s cardboard) is insane.

Hopefully I’ll keep this going, and the entries will get better in time. Fill out the contact form with any questions or comments. Until next time.


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