This is one of my standard rants. Anyone who has spent too much time around me will have heard it already, but this idea continues to inform my decision-making process.
There is a direct relationship between an art piece and the media it was created in. Often times, when I’m unhappy with a movie, it’s because I feel those making the movie were working against the media, rather than with it. I’m sure we’ve all been there, sitting through a movie that races through needed character development to cram the whole story in under two hours. Sacrifices were made to the story for the sake of the media, resulting in over-all mediocrity. Movies, in my opinion, aren’t the best for the kind of storytelling found in novels. But there are truly visual storytellers who would be hobbled if they couldn’t film, they know how to use their formidable arsenal of cinematography, dialogue, and score. Call me what you will, but I love Wes Anderson and I cannot imagine a single other media that would be able to contain him. The same can be said for Edgar Wright. Every aspect of his process is completely intentional, researching his process has changed how I watch movies. Graphic novels are not for everyone, either to make or to read, but they have developed a reputation for gritty, raw story-telling. Think of the “Maus” books by Art Spiegelman. His art and writing are cramped up in each frame of the story, just looking at a page causes the reader to feel claustrophobic, even before reading a single word. Craig Thompson’s stories can trail off into pages of pure art, without a line of dialogue, relying entirely on his strengths as an illustrator to move the story forward. I know my examples of great graphic novelists and directors aren’t exactly deep cuts, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are two artists who understand their chosen media perfectly. I could pull out examples from just about every art media available, but I don’t want this to turn into just a list of my favorite things.
This idea refers back to the idea of constriction being a great teacher of art. Every single artistic media has its limitations, and it’s a mature artist who can recognize these limitations and work with them, rather than against. Photography can do things that the traditional media of painting and drawing can’t do, but it more limiting than film. Even within the realm of traditional media, there are all kinds of freedoms and constraints. The same image captured in oil paint, watercolor, charcoal and ink are all going to have shockingly different qualities between them. The Joy in the Media is when the artist can play to their strengths without fighting their weaknesses.
I think this really exposes me as an immature artist. Because I don’t know my limitations, I don’t know my strengths. I also haven’t settled down into one particular discipline, and I don’t know if I ever will, nothing has ever felt quite perfect. I’ve tried out a lot of different media, and I’ve learned something from each that I’ve taken on to the next experiment, but I’m still restless, there are still things I haven’t tried yet.
The more I do, the more I realize I’m speaking from a place of profound ignorance. This realization is equal parts terrifying and thrilling. The more I realize I don’t know, the more there is for me to learn yet.