Art Writing and Criticism

What I write does not reproduce me, it re-defines me…

Totally not me…all Jeanette Winterson.

After a pretty brain draining weekend and much-needed rest, I’m back and trying to catch up and hoping to hit the publish button on a couple of pieces I’ve been neglecting working on for a couple of weeks. I’ve been studying (and doing lots of independent research). I’m not even in grad school (yet).

So, what gets me back into writing mode? It’s simple. Reading.

In Winterson’s essay, Writer, Reader, Words, I found a rather illuminating excerpt about the cyclical nature of art, writing, and reading I wanted to share.

Art is a way into other realities, other personalities. When I let myself be affected by a book, I let into myself new customs and new desires. The book does not reproduce me, it re-defines me, pushes at my boundaries, shatters the palings that guard my heart. Strong texts work along the borders of our minds and alter what already exists…Art is conscious and its effect on its audience is to stimulate consciousness. This is sexy, this is exciting, it is also tiring, and even those who welcome art-excitement have an ordinary human longing for sleep. Nothing wrong with that but we cannot use the book as a pillow.

~ Jeanette Winterson, British Novelist

Trust me, my laptop might as well be my pillow!! One of my mentors and dear friends reminded me that the most skilful writer is able to explain complexity with simplicity. That is extremely difficult to do and I think that’s why reading (constantly) and writing (constantly) cannot stop. Of course, I’ll leave it up to Haruki Murakami or Hunter S. Thompson for the truly mind altering texts but I hope the longer I write and keep up with my practice that my ramblings become eloquently written prose and my opinions become a conduit towards critical thought.

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, technology, race, and ethics. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation.

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