Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Getting to the Next Level

1. My boys play the wii. They love it, they obsess over it, it’s embarrassing. My 4yo, when he walks down the hall before daybreak, wiping the sleep out of this eyes, he talks about getting to the next level in this GAME, or when he’s ruminating at midday over his life, he sighs and says, Level 8, it’s so IMPOSSIBLE.  I feel like that bad mother whose kids are glued to screens (tho there is a time limit to it.) I draw the line at the DS. The Nintendo DS. All the boys have them around here (well not all of course) but the boys feel like everyone has one. But my Zee has a piece of wood that is small, maybe 2″ x 5″ and he calls it his DS. I feel somewhat redeemed. A piece of wood as his obsession, much better.

2. Today was supposed to be the 29th birthday of my friend’s only sister. She was pregnant last summer, a due date in January of this year. She was very sick. Finally in October her brothers drove down to her town & picked her up & drove her back to Stanford Medical Center. Finally they diagnosed that she was at Stage IV melanoma, it had gotten to her lungs. They delivered her baby in October. She died in December. She left her young husband, her 3 year old, her 18 month old and the newborn she’d held a few times, not to mention her 5 brothers & her parents. What is that? And another friend’s daughter relapsed in leukemia in January of this year. The little known truth is that relapse is worse in many ways than the original moment of being told your child has cancer. Terrifying. So, after a bone marrow match search & subsequent bone marrow transplant, she is now recovering at home. She was in the hospital for many many months. Right now she’s awaiting biopsy results to see if she can move on to only having those checks every three months. GK had cancer before I met him. He graduated from annual cancer checks a few years back, to now only needing to be checked every five years.

3. The alternating connections & isolations of online social media, they are providing some rich material for my work. I am starting to see this wide subject matter that means so much to me, this whole bit about how one person sees & connects with another. (What African language is it, that as a greeting, instead of Hello, it’s “I see you“?) The human-ness between us who can’t see each other. The audacity. The frailty. The ease. The discomfort and sadness. Between people who know each other, and people who really don’t. I take this in with twitter (@marzkim). Then, I am walking through a restaurant, and to my left I see a disabled person whose speech is so impaired, it’s hard to understand them. I have a friend who’s child has severe autism. He’s about 17 now. For years in his life, they knew he couldn’t talk and they didn’t think he could really think. Then they got this Lightwriter machine that facilitated speech for him. He types into it, and it speaks his words for him. At around age 14, because of this machine, they realized- he has something to say. He has a lot to say. He has important things to say. He is more than what he seems. He is finally known. So I think, if there are all these layers of separation between myself and another (in person or online or…)–do they know who I am? can they hear me? is what I see what is real?– what about these disabled persons, when people don’t stop moving or take time to know, hear, see? There are so many layers of separation between one human and another. Does this make sense? How are we connecting with each other? What is happening online? What if the next level is not Up, the next level is Deeper? Closer? What if the next level is not Achievement, it’s Knowing, Being Known?

4. And yet, I still want to play a certain game. That game being art, as I learn to make work that is meaningful to myself, work that I’m proud of, I want it to be shown somewhere. I want to be a part of the art world thing. I want my work to be seen, and maybe that means I don’t want to be invisible. Here’s a game that William Powhida made, really, it’s one you can play- rules are provided. You, too, can have your art shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you too can be canonized. Except, you can’t. It’s nearly impossible. I don’t know, I haven’t played it yet, it’s all New Yorkish and all. (SF/LA versions coming in 2 years he assures, it’s the typical way it plays out? The SF version should be small, cute, easy to make, & easy to win & yet still be a loser? haha) Apparently, I lost this game before I even started, #1 reason being I don’t live in NY (never plan to). Then there are many more reasons I’m a loser 🙂 some of which are listed (having children), some of which aren’t, so I guess I really am losing this art game. I’m glad he took the time to diagram out this impossible world, as my 4yo sighs, It’s so impossible! Very funny. I’m glad I am making up my own game and playing by my own rules. Because, according to my own game, I am actually winning. It’s probably the only way to do it & survive. It’s like when a child plays “soccer” or “football” or “whatever” and she ends up the winner no matter what. I like that kind of game. Except, I really want my work shown in places. So, in my game, I am winning but I still want the bonus prize. I know there’s a game, I know there are rules, and when I break them, I do it on purpose, and I dare anyone to dismiss me as a contender. When I look like a loser, maybe I’m seeing if I can force the rules to bend, I’m not being stupid. I am playing this game to win, on my terms.

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