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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Richard Foreman celebrates himself

In the link above, Richard Foreman describes what's going on in his mind as he's developing Zomboid. As ever, he's humble and clear.

Here are some choice aggrandizements:

"The performance of "ZOMBOID" is then an attempted model of the depth of the world at work.

The world, it would seem, starts out not with a story or a theme, but with the random (statistically guided, perhaps) pouring forth of multitudinous radiations--twitching and throbbing in concert.

So now, here in front of an audience--we invoke and mirror this world process, generating the energy of eternal delight.

Required of us all, however, in order to be sensitive and alert to what is invisibly taking place in the depths of the world's creativity, is to free ourselves from both perceptual habit and inherited mental habit. (Keatsean "negative capability.")

One must, in effect, blindfold oneself, blocking normal faculties so that other inner resources are forced into play. "

Now, I'm well aware that Foreman excites a great many people and that he's critic proof, mostly by being utterly baffling. I saw and reviewed "The Gods are Pounding My Head!" and found his statement in the program only slightly more illuminating than anything happening on the stage. Which is not to say that there weren't moments I enjoyed, by themselves, but it was, one might say, purely by chance. If you throw enough weirdness, music and snippets of language at the stage, and take your sweet time, you'll likely hit something, somewhere, in someone.

Foreman relies on his artist's statement to contextualize his work. In some ways, the internet is the perfect forum for him, as it lets his readers become wrapped up in his context long before they ever bother watching a performance. But his work is massively indulgent, and has an air of self-satisfaction. He dares explain to the audience what they "must" do in order to enjoy or experience what he is doing.

For Foreman to write "Now it is time to celebrate the elitist artist!" is redundant. He is the first and last elitist artist, and celebrates himself and his explorations consistenetly. One could say that he believes that his navel is a black hole of universal mystery, and therefore spends his waking life making an art of gazing at it. The navel also stares into you, Mr. Foreman.

The beautiful thing about practioners like Foreman is that they are the sort of artist that are playing with the idea of artwork. The art itself is irrelevant, seemingly, to them, as long as they can subvert something and be celebrated for it. He has fans who also believe that life began in his belly button and nothing will dissuade them from it. If Foreman tried, they'd likely call it a brilliant attempt at subverting expectation.

His decription of Zomboid is telling for that reason. But I'll let you read it for yourselves, now. I'll just close with a fantastic question mark of a paragraph that I simply refuse to unpack.

"That trivial aspect (the "subject") is what we focus on when we chose NOT to be deeply engaged with what art is deeply about--the full, multi-dimensional "presence" of whatever subject is being obliterated by the power of "present-ness." However, by the usual gluing of our attention onto the ostensible "subject matter"--we try to protect ourselves from the deep ego-shattering experience of art."

At last, someone has told me what art is deeply about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw Zomboid last weekend. I was really looking forward to it, right up until the moment it started. From that point on, I hated, hated, hated it. It was, by far, the worst thing I've ever seen.

Especially frustrating to me is the amount of time I've spent since then trying to understand and justify what I saw. But, I can't. It was unwatchable. And worse, it was boring.