art is a mirror.

If you ever find yourself struggling to understand what a piece of art is supposed to “mean,” you can try out my one (and only) philosophy about art, which is that:

art is a mirror.

I think every truly great piece of art is a mirror that helps you (the observer) see yourself more clearly than you ever could have without it.

The normal approach with art is to try to figure out what the artist is saying, as if it’s like a puzzle we have to interpret. But I don’t believe in that approach. When I experience a piece of art, I think of it in terms of what the art is saying about me, right now. This is just like a mirror, right? Mirrors aren’t designed with any content of their own. The job of a mirror-maker isn’t to tell you what you should see when you look at it. If a mirror is working correctly, you see what you are. I think art is the same kind of experience.

In fact, this function of art to reflect ourselves is, in my opinion, the reason why it’s so valuable to society. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to experience themselves with a deeper, more expansive perspective on their life, death, and purpose? When art is at its best, it does just that.

Personally, all of my favorite works of art (paintings, novels, records, games, DJ sets, etc.) – the ones I would consider to be truly great – have had this effect of allowing me to experience my own self in totally unique and often transformative ways. Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at Girl Before a Mirror, what makes it such a sublime experience is the way I can see the indescribable truth of myself bouncing off the colors and forms.

(The irony that my favorite painting features a literal mirror and reflection was totally lost on me until I started writing this… and suddenly my favorite Lichtenstein makes a lot more sense too…)

Ultimately what I am saying is that all good art is co-creative. It is only truly made into art once it is experienced by an observer. A lot of people think of art as a one-way speech given by the artist to impart some kind of objective “meaning” that we’re all supposed to figure out. I disagree. The works I love are always a dialogue, a conversation, a form of communication between you and the artist. A great artist may intend to say something through their work, but they always leave enough space for you to respond and it is your response to a work that makes it art, in my opinion.

In my own work, this is something that is always on my mind. One of my most relentless ambitions is to find that balance where I’m creating something that has both the depth and symbolism to be meaningful, while leaving enough “space” and openness that allows you to see your own personal experiences, fears, hopes, dreams, and emotions reflected back at you. Through a million different techniques, that’s what I am always reaching for.

If you want to experiment with this idea, go to an art space and try to filter everything you see through this lens. Forget any notions about the artist’s intentions and instead just feel what the piece is reflecting back at you, now, here, in this moment. For me, that’s always a trippy experience and makes the value of art in my life that much more impactful.

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hi. my name is drew. this notebook is where i document what i’m creating / thinking about right now [art + code + existential crises + etc]. if you’re new here, you can visit my about page to read what i say about myself.
insta.
  • if you haven’t already, check out my ‘goldeneye.’ effect in your Instagram camera.
  • this is the homeless camp i installed (via augmented reality) in front of the hermès store on rodeo dr. it’s called ‘skid ro.’ and you can view it through my new label. LA app (link in profile). ⛺️
  • i placed this one near the Santa Monica pier, it's called 'funding for this exhibit provided by the Sackler family.' If you don't know what that means, 👉🏼 please swipe to read the exhibit description. download my free app ‘label. LA’ to see it in person (link in description).
  • @callmekanaa with my goldeneye. filter 💥
  • It's here! My augmented reality art app launched this morning. 15 exhibits throughout Los Angeles, viewable in AR through the app. After months and months of design and coding this, I'm so stoked to share it with you. Augmented Reality street art is the future and this is the first of its kind AR street art experience. Download link in my profile (free) if you want to check it out. 💥
  • it’s here... check out my new filter ‘andy.’ modeled after Warhol’s famous screen print style. really happy with the effect on this one, and you can even tap each frame to make your own color scheme. hope you guys have fun with it. 🙏🏼
  • i'm so stoked to tell you guys that i just got into Instagram’s private program to create filters/effects for IG Stories! 🤖 this is my first one (called goldeneye.) and anyone following me is able to use it in their stories, so check it out and lemme know what you think! (it's really cool in low light too.) these are so much fun to make and dovetail so perfectly with the other augmented reality artwork i'm doing at the moment. addicting. i have about 10 more in the works. 💥
  • do you ever just wake up and feel like you *have* to draw an anatomical knee study before you can start your day?? ... i don’t question the muse, I just do what she says 🤷🏼‍♂️
  • i installed this above Pacific Palisades in my upcoming AR app. it’s called “glistening triangular thing.” what does it mean? i have no idea, just thought it was pretty. my favorite part of this is the way it can accurately reflect the real-world environment as if it is actually there. can’t wait to go see it at sunset someday.
  • You know, it’s been 18 months and ’the column of dirty dishes.’ still hasn’t fallen over. MOMA hasn’t called to make an offer on it (yet), but the fact that it’s still standing is a success in its own right 🤷🏼‍♂️
  • [sneak preview.] i'm building an augmented reality iPhone app where you can walk around Los Angeles and view 15 digital "installations" that I've placed around the city just by pointing the app at them. This one is a total💩storm, called 'hollywood stars.' Of course, it also works with the stars of Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby. The app (label. LA) will launch later this month so you too can make it rain 💩. #StayTuned
  • I always hesitated before signing any of my work because [label.] felt too “expansive” for my own signature. And then I realized that my work made in this spirit was always meant to be stamped with the generic [label.] seal of approval and that feels so much better.

@labeldot