October 25, 2008

October 25, 2008

Around ten last night I headed over to Matt’s apartment, without any expectations or idea of what was going to happen (it was a Friday night, so I rightly assumed we weren’t just going to sleep.)  I have known Matt since the pre-freshman year art open house, but I don’t really know much about him outside of his work and so I found myself very curious about what we were going to do.  It’s pretty rare that I go to someone’s house with no expectations, which is something I’m trying to do as a part of this project.  We increasingly judge people based on social applications such as Facebook, which provide us with an overwhelming amount of information before we even really spend any time with someone; this is a methodology that I am interested in avoiding by leaving myself open to new people and experiences, unmediated by my preconceptions.  I felt like I was really able to achieve this because of how little time I have previously spent with Matt, combined with his total willingness to include me in his night.  Before I go on, I think it’s a good time to mention that Sunday night will be my first time staying with a total stranger, so soon we’ll see exactly what it is like to enter into a situation with almost no previous knowledge of my hosts.

While moving around has been a total physical and emotional drain (I think I’m averaging five hours of sleep a night, while I tend to function much more fully on eight), there have been a few nights that have been completely rejuvenating via their ability to reassure me that there is actually something new to be discovered through this process.  Last night was one of those nights.  Matt, his roommate Gleb, and their friend (Gleb’s girlfriend?) Ashley were just getting ready for dinner when I arrived.  I had already eaten, but they were kind enough to provide me with a second dinner… it was really good, sausage with some sort of rice and red wine.  Dinner conversation was an examination of the difference between media art and art, with Matt essentially arguing that art tends to revel in creating multiple meanings via an inherent ambiguity.  I don’t know that anyone there really bought into the distinction UCLA maintains between the two, but it did make for a really interesting and productive conversation (one that I feel particularly invested in as I constantly struggle with how to keep my work open and honest without resorting to ambiguity.)

After dinner we went to two parties, which were full of art and design students… somehow I largely missed really socializing with either of these groups over the last three years, making it a rare treat to spend time with them outside of class.  I had some good conversation, very tasty sangria, and got to know Matt and his friends a little better; this was followed by some more wine at Matt’s and finally crashing in Gleb’s vacant bed.

Every night has created some sort of different experience and thus I don’t know that I can really rank them, but the nights that have felt the most rewarding for me are the ones where my host is someone I don’t know that well and someone who is willing to match my investment with an equal investment of their own.  I think John and Matt both present good examples of this, as I hadn’t really ever connected with either of them but they were both so willing / interested in sharing themselves and being an active part of the project.

I’ve also been reflecting on why the sleeping over is so important and I am realizing that it sets up a situation where I have to remain socially engaged past my natural point of comfort.  This is the space where things begin to move past small talk and into the much more intimate, sincere territory that I want to explore.  Going for many nights in a row is also key because I can’t just disengage myself for the night, secure in the knowledge that the next day I can go back to doing what I want / seeing who I want / enjoying the solitude and comfort of my own bed.  Unless I want to have a hellish, incredibly unproductive month I have to train myself to relish the space I share with those kind enough to house me the same way I normally relish my own privacy.

I made a commitment to come home to Mission Viejo this weekend months before planning this project.  Although I was able to cut it down from three nights to one night, I will have to break the constraints of the piece again this evening.  However, I will be sleeping at a friend’s place (I still need to find the friend) and not my own house, continuing my general “investigation”… tomorrow things will continue with Matt’s choice as usual.


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