I’m an individualist and I am very aware of the advantages and disadvantages of it. I’m rather proud that I learned to think for myself and I try to strengthen that reflex, by staying in control of my actions (rather than follow blindly), or at least be very aware what the purpose of them are.
A perfect example occurred earlier this month, when I was with a crowd of strangers on our way to a festival I had to work at. We had made our way to the front entrance of the train station, all in one group from the same train. There, we encountered a sign that pointed the opposite way. Everyone muttered and turned around, many never even saw the sign but just chose to follow. I was the only one left behind, looking around. Something wasn’t quite right. This was the only exit and I specifically remember, without a doubt like most of the others, that this was the way to go, last year. I went up a few of the steps and indeed, saw another sign posted ahead. Someone had turned the arrow as a practical joke. I set it back and wandered on… alone. It took the group, without leadership, more than 20 minutes to figure out where to be.
I can’t help but feel very smug about myself at such moments, and I like to believe I have good right. However, this tendency to question what is decided elsewhere occasionally annoys the others to the point where they tell me to just shut the fuck up and follow, already.
Especially at work. Recently, I’ve been remarked that I have trouble listening to what is being said to me. I, of course, have always disagreed with this. I try to co-operate, and make a valuable contribution. I try to be a good worker, honest. I just don’t just swallow what I am told without at least reconsidering it, and if it clashes with what I think is logic, I offer feedback so we can work it out and find the best thing to do. If the other has the last say, and still persists, I will do so- on their responsibility, and only if I deem it doable.
Imagine sitting in a forklift like that. Since a lot of the time I can’t see what I’m doing, I have no trouble blindly following instructions. But if I can double-check, I will.
Last night I was told to back my “Maniscopic”, a cross between a forklift and a fucking tank (I’m not kidding here), up, so they could clear they way for me. By doing so, I would block another forklift that was working on something, so I shook my head and pointed, thinking that my voice wouldn’t go above the diesel engine anyway. The American rolled his eyes and repeated his order, but I was still in doubt, shouting back, “I’ll block the other forklift!”
His colleague joined in at that point. “Don’t argue with the big man! (He was indeed huge) Do as he says!” I opened my mouth to respond that I wasn’t trying to argue, but quickly enough saw the irony of that and put a sock in it.
Seriously though, I really wasn’t trying to argue. I was merely providing feedback, in case he didn’t know this. But when the other guy put it like that, my penny dropped. I was being wayward again, like I’ve been told I am more often than not.
I wasn’t aware of this before. I hope those involved know that I am not trying to go into discussion out of principle, but just want to do my job right by communicating. Perhaps I should watch my mouth a little more in the future, but that might prove to be very difficult. This is who I am, and I don’t want to chance my defining feats if some other compromise can be reached. I just don’t want to be difficult to work with.
Of course, I simply don’t want to listen to certain individuals, either. Because they come up to me, saying “Come on, we’ve got a job laid out for us” and before I know it, I’m on my knees leveling the screw jacks of the entire fucking stage, while they’re off doing something else. Next time they walk up to me, I simply tell them I’m busy.
When you get to know the venues you work in and ignore a few rules, written or not, you can often come places no one else can. I’ve witnessed Apocalyptica from the trusses, hearing the crowd sing. I’ve shared pizza with artists and watched the crowd go wild to Moby, from his side on the stage. If you go look for them, you find views that will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you don’t even have to travel to Vietnam for them.
The feeling that I get when I stand in the dark, watching unseen, is a very familiar and comfortable one. It gives a strong sense of higher purpose, of being an outsider among a crowd.
It was very recent, during a gig of Seal’s “Soul” tour, that I managed to define this emotion. We were sitting on the handrail of the highest possible platform, four of us, shoulder to shoulder. In the dark, right above those who paid to be there. We could literally see each and every individual in the audience, but no one saw us, because no one bothered to look up and back. And if they did, they would probably only be blinded by the followspots, anyway – There was just one woman who managed to spot us, only because she had seen us climb up there.
It hit me quite suddenly: Slumped, balanced and quiet, we resembled a cathedral’s gargoyles- in human form. Drama queen that I am, I immediately fell in love with that idea: The Venue Gargoyles. Alive only when unseen, we watch over our work, in the darkness as if never there in the first place. Everyone knows that this construction didn’t build itself, but no one stops to think where those who did, could be- So now you know.
I want to capture that image. I was trying to explain this concept to someone and started looking up art on gargoyles, but couldn’t find exactly what I meant, anywhere. So now I want to summarize it, myself. Find some way to invoke that feeling without experiencing the situation first-hand. Here’s a few ideas I’m tossing around:
- Pictures. Photography. I used to study graphical arts for a year and now the photographer in me is getting a hard-on. Imagine the possibilities in a city like this, with castles, churches, chapels and cathedrals, a city-wide festival about to explode, and a skyline of medieval buildings.
- Conceptualize. That same “Gargoyle”, recognizable, could be found again on floor level, in the streets. Watching without being watched, because no one bothers to look his way, just as they didn’t look up as he was observing from above. Maybe it is possible to play with details: make him the same color as the wall, as he would be as a real stone gargoyle. Obviously there, but rendered psychologically invisible because of some detail.
- Stencils! Can you see it!? A construction worker goes through his daily routine, walking over the rooftops, and suddenly runs into an intricate, abstract image of a gargoyle. Looking around, he sees the city and its streets, and realizes that this creature saw him drive to work today. Just like it witnessed the city awaken every morning, and go to sleep at night.
I don’t think I’d be able to pursue much on this subject at work, even though that’s where the inspiration comes from. I would love to, but first of all we have better shit to do, and I doubt my colleagues would be very interested to begin with. Still, it would be nice to take this out of context and really be able to do something with it. Perhaps I’ll contact a “real” artist or two…