Young people in Santa believe they have nothing to do because events in Santa Fe have nothing to do with them. Here's a clue, event organizers: 20- to 30-somethings, and certainly their younger sibs, don't want to be entertained; they want to participate.
Santa Fe Complex seems to understand this, at least philosophically, through the invention of Media Hive. The nascent experiment in collaboration and digital arts launched last weekend and continues on a monthly basis through 2012.
I have little idea whether Media Hive has the potential to take off as the regular creative-business incubator that its host intends, but that depends somewhat on whether or not I'm right about what youth want.
Here's a brief, but hopefully illuminating, anecdote from David Mamet's film State and Main: Joseph (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a playwright, in crisis, on location in a small town to film a movie he wrote. He meets storeowner Ann (Rebecca Pidgeon), who invites him to the town talent show. Joseph—somewhat smugly—says that, in a small town, people must have to make their own fun. "Of course," Ann replies. "Otherwise, it's just entertainment."
If you haven't noticed by the wave of alt.country music populating the web these days, young people are nostalgic for times and places in which people made their own fun. They don't want to be analyzed or educated, and when they use the word "community," they're not thinking in civic terms. They're thinking about making dinner, music and art with friends, and they aren't exclusive about the definition of "friend."
This understanding is the cornerstone of art collective Meow Wolf's success, but phrases like "cornerstone of success" are completely outside its lexicon. Fun, experience and collaboration come first. What my New Agey baby mama describes as calling in the right people and having faith in the outcome, science refers to as the self-organizing principle.
Organizer Jason Goodyear says that, though the first three or four Hives will alternate between open and facilitated sessions, he hopes for the monthly get-togethers to sustain themselves. Each month, a performance follows the workshop, pulling from that very event or the previous ones.
Brian Mayhall, of local act D Numbers, led the first session by completely rolling back the curtain on his process. Using the software Ableton Live, Mayhall demonstrated to an audience of 15 or so attendees how he makes electronic music by recording samples from organic sounds—clapping, singing, talking, shaking a shaker—and then manipulating them into unrecognizable audio events.
Afterward, another dozen people showed up. Goodyear joined Mayhall by manipulating digital images in response to the music. Mayhall also projected his Live screen onto a wall so attendees could watch his process.
As a writer, I tend to avoid groups of writers because I don't want their ideas infecting my process, but when I've endeavored into other artistic areas, I've found that working with others brings not only a greater depth to projects, but also more invested people and their friends. But would I go to the Complex to find them?
Intending to attend the first workshop only as an observer, I actually connected with audio-visual artist Miles Tokunow, with whom I'm hoping to collaborate on a podcast.
Though Goodyear wants to facilitate artists getting out of their homes and heads, his hope for Media Hive relies on their friends—on the belief, he says, that anyone can make art. The Hive demonstrates that ability and provides the resources. In other words, it invites Santa Fe youth to participate.
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