The Notebook as a Thinking Place

I’ve started to read the Bill Viola book Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House  , writings 1973 – 1994, and it says in the preface that Bill Viola has said ” Everything I have ever published or created as an artist, has come from these books.” The books he is referring to are his collection of notebooks that he has kept for over 25 years. Where he has recorded and developed ideas for videos and installations, technical explorations and concepts as well as comments on contemporary culture, video art, observations from travels, on religions, history, perception and memory, landscape and philosophy (Robert Violette).

Reading this has made me begin to question where it is that I develop my artworks and ideas. I do tend to jot down ideas quickly in the notebooks I keep and formerly I would start quite quickly on the actual making of the artwork so the ideas often only had a little time to percolate and develop. I am now trying to change that process by spending less time throwing myself into the making and more time writing and thinking about each project before starting it.

I think often my work evolves in conversation with people and I may have been neglecting to follow up the conversations I have been having with extensive note taking and writing so have been missing out on interesting changes, developments and observations about the work. It takes a lot of self-discipline to pin yourself down to, and deliberately reassess and record conversations. Conversations which may be had whilst doing other things or during times where note taking or conversation recording is not possible or considerate.

My idea for helping to extend my writing/thinking/developing process is to for each idea or project, write myself proposition like articles which I can rewrite over and when needed, I can email these ‘propositions’ to supervisors and discuss with peers. The observations and ideas that they subsequently have can then be recorded and worked into, worked out of, or be taken into account before the work is even started. Hopefully this will also make me assess my own intent for each artwork and become clearer about what I want each artwork to do and why.


3 thoughts on “The Notebook as a Thinking Place

  1. hi rose
    I enjoyed reading this blog and felt there was lots of good thinking in here (also for me), but be careful you do not get ‘paralysis from analysis’ .
    Made work looks different to the dream ideal we may have in our brain

    • Thanks Elle, I know what you mean, paralysis from analysis is such a nice way of putting it. I think I need (maybe we all need?) to find a balance between the thinking, planning and the making. Hopefully I can shift my balance a bit so that the planning and thinking are equal to the making. Not easy!

      • no not easy – too much thinking puts a plug into the creative tap and not enough thinking makes the creative tap sometimes just flow uncontrollably.

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