Lars America Jan is the founding artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a multi-disciplinary art lab based in Los Angeles that specializes in live, cinematic performances about contemporary America right now. His work has been commissioned by the EMPAC and The Whitney Museum, and his Kickstarter project will help bring one of his complex pieces to the Sundance film festival next year.
WARNING: You may have already supported our Kickstarter quest to fund our multi-media, multi-platform performance called ABACUS at the 2012 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. If not, please please watch this short video first, or prepare for slight and hopefully pleasant disorientation.
ABACUS is starting a conversation about our relationship to screens, and about how, in our culture, propaganda wins over content so much of the time. It’s a very visual, sixty-minute direct address to the audience. It’s about national borders, our relationship to screens, and contemporary persuasion — and it’s all inspired by cult-icon Paul Abacus.
I’ll have to tell you a little about Paul Abacus if I’m going to say anything further at all. And, in doing so, I have to start with a question: What would you do if an outright genius (who you admire more than anyone) asked you to stop what you’re doing and collaborate on a contemporary renaissance of art and ideas? I now must present some options — the one I chose will be the last (in case you’re a skimmer). Here we go:
You ignore him or her and keep eating cheese, napping and failing to get through your Netflix queue. Or: You dive in and realize that this person you admired at a distance is, in truth, a fatuous shell of vagaries who seemingly exists only to further heighten your disillusion with the impact of progressive ideas in America. Or: You find yourself allied with the real McCoy, reinvigorated with purpose as an artist and citizen, driven not by hope, change or any abstraction, but by the simple fact that the work of the world is as common as mud.
Paul Abacus is a McCoy, and so here I am. In the mud. And I know you might be knee or neck deep with me.
What’s a renaissance anyway? It doesn’t have to be a musty word. What will the new one, the next one, look like?
I think it’s begun. Or, rather, we’re beginning it. Right...now.
Not because the politics are any less ugly than always, or our collective sense of empathy has magically expanded. Yet.But because the people of the world have begun to communicate with one another in ways never before possible. I don’t just mean the internet or social media. I’m talking about the stirrings of a deeper brand of communication than we’ve seen in digital spaces so far. Our vast community, which is full of more beautifully creative people today than every existed on this planet before, can support itself in diverse, potent ways — hello KICKSTARTER, hello TED — and will, I believe, entirely redefine the place of creativity in global culture.
Can I get a non-religious “Amen!”
The creative community is not composed of artists, but will be, increasingly, everyone. This is the trend. Creative mudsters are emergent. This is the movement we have a stake in and are trying to advocate through ABACUS.
I gather that’s why we’re both here, on different screens, at different times, but looking at the very same words. Of course, the best thing you can do, as Paul always says, is just do your thing. Passionately.
VIVA YOUR THING,