The film has taken on a lot more of a life than I would have thought, especially back when it was conceived as a throw away absurdist joke and we had no intention of making it. We were just having a conversation about breadfacing and roller derby.
Luckily it was slow at work sometime shortly after and it started getting filmed sporadically. Still in the spirit of complete humour.
I was just collecting the footage in a folder and working on other projects when I came across that music and literally began laughing and clapping and saying I found the audio for JAR. I switched from thinking it doesn’t matter if JAR ever gets finished to wanting it done as soon as possible, primarily for my own amusement.
I showed a rough cut to Red and Chris that night and they laughed so I didn’t feel too far from sane and I finished it the next day in a rush before heading over to Ben’s.
I was elated when I completed the upload and jumped in the car for the roughly 12 minute drive. And about 8 minutes into that drive I thought this is the stupidest thing everyone’s going to shame me why am I like this…
And then I felt better when I remembered I already decided my next project would be a film about drinking coffee. Solve the problems of your second draft in the first draft of your next project is my motto. Which is why I typically only get upset when I don’t have a bunch of ‘next’ projects.
JAR was greeted with a certain kindness. Something I cherish in any artistic undertaking or any undertaking really because like Oscar Wilde my life is my art, is when people talk about it with each other. When people talk to the artist they are just giving feedback, it doesn’t necessarily imply they’ve thought or felt about the piece they are mostly just reacting on an interpersonal level and it feels like small talk.
Hopefully this doesn’t sound like faux humility or rampant narcissism but when people tell me how much they like a song or a blog post it feels basically nice and I’ll see if they want to actually talk about it or move on because giving a compliment to an artist is more about the giver and I respect that, I’ve complimented a lot of artists in my time and it’s an atrocious social interaction if you’re not careful.
What I love though, what I think truly implies a piece of work is in fact a work of art is when people tell me they were talking about it with someone else and they both had different points of view and took away different things and then each came away from that conversation with new questions.
Some people started seeing the underlying theme of female empowerment and some people had interesting conversations about what constitutes a fetish.
And there were people who got nothing. Not even the absurdist point of not getting anything.
So I thought the split of the audience was people who ‘got’ it and people who did not.
One person said it could be used as instructional video and that at least counts as getting something, some hint of value.
A comment that shifted my thinking was someone who said they got it (and said they got it as if getting it was the most obvious thing in the world) and thought it was too long.
I asked myself in that moment if it was too long and I remembered during editing that I made it as short as I possibly could.
This meant that what she got wasn’t aligned with what I wanted to give. And was was fascinating is that she hadn’t misinterpreted, I saw for the first time that someone had under-interpreted my work. Which felt like quite an honour.
I am in awe that in all the years I’ve been living the artist’s life the first thing I made that is open to valid, interesting, multiple interpretations was a gag movie about women opening jars.
This conversation changed my thinking of the two audience groups as get something vs get nothing into wanted to experience vs wanted to consume.
Consuming art is solving one side of the Rubik’s Cube and declaring it finished.
If one is looking for just the ‘statement about the domestic sphere’ or just the empathetic reaction of struggle and catharsis, or just the absurdist humour then the movie is too long, it could be as short as one woman opening a jar, it could be as short as not existing because we all know woman can open jars.
If one is merely looking for the absurdist joke than its easy to miss in the film because the joke is the film. The joke is that it exists. We lived in a world that didn’t have a jar opening compilation and now we live in a world that does because of me. That’s how I’ve enriched the world. That’s absurd.
So if you think of things as to be consumed everything becomes too long. It takes too long to eat if all you want is to not be hungry.
But the experiential person, the person watching with their whole nervous system is absorbing feelings from the art they consume like the difference between chewing on a piece of chocolate and letting it melt.
And we can take that approach not just to the way engage with art projects but with the way we engage with the world. Any conversation can be a masterpiece if instead of thinking this is what I want it to be and everything else is extraneous go looking for layers and tangents, don’t think of having the right point of view on something, look for other points of view and see how they interact.
You’ll find that everything becomes fascinating or frustrating as it fucks up the side of the cube you thought you’d already solved.