"You never know. You never know what influence you're having...
Someone says your work is beautiful, but, does it resonate?
You can never, really know."
 
Peter Alexander
On Impressions | Audio Diary Ep. 04

 

In this episode of The Audio Diary, I took the more conversational, reflective path as a way to work out thoughts on self fashioning and presentation as opposed to using a straightforward, interview approach. In other words, you'll hear a lot of my voice for this Op.Ed. take on a podcast, complemented with quotes from a recorded chat with the Los Angeles artist, Peter Alexander, for Au Courant Vol. 02.

In a nutshell, the quotes in this episode by Alexander are comments on public perception, made in response to my questions about how his sculptural practice developed over the decades, and how he and the other Light and Space artists were able to shape their ouevre in the shadow of the all-important New York art scene. Another pull-quote from the original interview for Au Courant Vol. 02, shared in the image captions, below, reflect the candor and disregard towards reviews that Alexander was able to maintain for his entire career in the midst of a slow-building LA art scene. 

Truthfully, this kind of dialogue-based audio is a form I have not used in my work for a decade.

In the years gone by, I had a career as a radio broadcast journalist, hosting and producing a number of primetime, live shows back home in Trinidad. Once I left the island, presenting myself - or more specifically, my voice and perspective - to hundreds of thousands of listeners on a daily basis was something that immediately lost its sheen. Partly because the years of media work had left me drained, jaded and under-stimulated. And wholly, because I foresaw how media, once a traditional, limited-access thing, was about to become an omnipresent, commoditized resource.

At the time, I viewed my departure from formalized media as a way to protect myself in the face of the social onslaught, and as a way to retain some ownership of my public self. I navigated the digital space tentatively in those early years, gravitating to every form of media that had nothing to do with audio. As the years passed and I took more authorship over my work as a visual artist operating in a multimedia, multidisciplinary space, I began to once again see the value in claiming my voice through audio. Hence The Audio Diary. 

In the process, other questions of self-presentation and retaining control over one's image began to emerge. As I spoke with other artists, designers and creatives, the question would always arise, usually long after the conversation was done: "could you edit out that bit?" Sometimes casual, other times fraught with anxiety, often punctuated with practicality, those instances of impression management began to both amuse, and confound me.

Why is there such a strong impulse to control all impressions of the self? 

 

 

 

The Au Courant Audio Diary - Artist Peter Alexander on Impressions

"There is that whole, shallow
indulgent aspect... which reminds us
here in New York that not since the
invention of bronze casting has
anything of consequence happened
in that [LA] climate..."
 
Joseph Masheck, 1971, Artforum
 
_
 
Peter Alexander's response?
 
"I mean, fuck you! [Laughing.] That was more
or less the pervading sentiment about our work."
 
Au Courant Vol. 02 | Oct/Nov 2016

 

The Au Courant Audio Diary - Artist Peter Alexander on Impressions

Peter Alexander, at his Santa Monica LA studio. 

 

The Au Courant Audio Diary - Artist Peter Alexander on Impressions

Works in Alexander's studio

 

 

NOTES
Words & Images | Lisa-Marie Harris
Music | The Lyon
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