Somewhere along the way an idea got into my head, a vision that one day with enough miles travelled and experience gained I would produce a portfolio that is complete. A finished collection, whatever that means. A body of work in whatever discipline snared my creative indulgences that would stand strong on its own merit, needing no additions nor refinements. I thought that one day I would actually master my craft. I imagined a distant finish line with a roaring crowd, enthusiastically awaiting the grand un-veilling. A finite collection of photographs, films and music taking on a life of their own in a space immortalised by their very existence. I could see myself putting down the camera, retiring the musical instrument and installing myself in a chair to breathe a deep sigh of relief, “Well that’s done! What’s next?” The idea that one could spend an entire lifetime learning, playing and refining a craft and never actually reach a finishing ponit seemed nothing short of depressing.
I think many of us wrestle with this idea at some point or another. Rather than thinking of the finishing line as a specific point in time or a “perfect” photographic capture, it may be useful to think of the journey itself as the finishing line. Extending, maturing and changing with our lives. The magic is in the process rather than the result.
In education it seems we are always harping on, placing emphasis on process over product. Giving students permission to try, fail and more importantly to learn, to reflect and stand up again. Where along the way did things change? Why in the “adult world” are we given far less tolerance to fail and develop? After all, “Man is most himself when he is at play.” I’m not sure who coined that term, I read it on a wall somewhere surrounded by some beautiful street art.
Photographs by Glenn Dixon. 2011
Artwork Left: A mural in the Mission District of San Francisco Artwork Right: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.