Quinlan Maggio is an artist, tech worker, and recent MFA graduate of Hunter College in New York. Quinlan writes and makes videos and installations informed by a constant ongoing practice of performance. Quinlan has exhibited at 205 Hudson Gallery, fort gondo compound for the arts, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

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i had an idea (2020)

I had an idea to treat making art like a job.

I became the CEO of my art. I started waking up at 4:30am for a long morning walk like Steve Jobs. I exercised before breakfast like Sheryl. I dressed for success like Sundar.

It wasn’t a persona. It was a job. In the office I was deemed a high performer. If art was a job then maybe I’d be able to make something.

I got a coffeemaker. I bought an ergonomic chair.

I broke the day into 15-minute blocks. Time to eat. Time for coffee. Sleep, 7.5 hours. Exercise. Creative time email time family time.

I typed long anxious notes into Google Calendar events. I rescheduled my emotions for a later date.

I had an idea to make a career transition, from software designer to artist. I had an idea to question my upward mobility. I had an idea to close some doors.

I had an idea to apply for jobs I didn’t want so I could turn them down.

I really wanted an offer from Amazon. I cleaned up my website. I joined LinkedIn Premium.

AWS ignored me. I watched each application move from 'In Review' to 'Archived.' Maybe they found my signature on the petition “No Work for Amazon NY,” in opposition to their proposed headquarters in Queens.

Audible didn’t seem to care. They had already successfully gentrified a neighborhood in Newark. They emphasized: converted cathedral building and free meals.

IBM emails me every week with new job listings. Palantir got a little too friendly. I let Raytheon go to voicemail.

I blew off Comcast. I streamed the Twitch interview.

Michelle works at Facebook, so taking their calls in our living room is awkward.

The Morgan Stanley office is across from the ACLU. In the marble lobby there is a grand piano. Anyone can play—but only on Mondays and Wednesdays between 3-5 pm.

It’s Tuesday, 10 am and I sneak a selfie with the sign out front. I meet Michael the hiring manager in the lobby. He is very apologetic about the misunderstanding last week. We go up the elevator and into a glass conference room. I express genuine interest in finance, but lie about wanting to work on his team. We work through some hypothetical problems on the whiteboard. At the end of our 3 hours together, he lets me down easy.

I start to feel bad about my experiment. None of these companies want me or my premature rejection. I learn something about leverage.

Most of my friends are artists. They work as nannies, bartenders, artist assistants, art handlers, in the retail and service industries. They are classified as independent contractors. No benefits.

I wanted to support my friends, so I registered as an LLC. Every Friday, I pay my bills and funnel the rest of my paycheck to the LLC account. The LLC hires one friend at a time to make their art for an hourly wage. At the end of two qualifying pay periods, about 6 months, I lay them off. They file for unemployment benefits. I do not contest their claim. I cheerfully pay the unemployment insurance each time it goes up.

I had an idea that a crush can get you through any shitty workday.

I had a dream about the soft-spoken vegetarian engineer. The following day we met to discuss our new project. Late in the afternoon he opened up to me about the state of his failing marriage. He sought the verbal permission to fuck just end it already. Ditch couples counseling, pursue the dream of building yet another online education platform. “I have real users now,” he said. I blushed.

A few months later he told me about the 23 year old girl in Mexico City. They had fallen in love via webcam. I quit my job.

The unemployment scheme went under.

How do you know the difference between a good and bad idea? How do you decide if an idea is good, or bad? How do you evaluate an idea? What is the idea measured against? Is it a risk assessment? Is it a risk calculation? Is there a pro / con list? How do you make a decision about the idea? How do you make decisions in general? Is it random? Do you make decisions on based on intuition or logic? Is making decisions emotional for you? When and why do you make that decision? How do you come to trust your ideas? Do you ever trust your own ideas? What happens when you decide an idea is good and then later change your mind? Does it make sense to make a judgement call on an idea before it can be realized? What happens when people think about an idea? Are they running a scenario in their head? Are they playing out the idea in some imagined space so that they can say, “Yes, this is a good idea,” or “no, that is a terrible idea.” What is the danger in ideas? Is there any harm in an idea? Is there weight to some ideas, and not others Is there such a thing as a neutral idea? Is it an idea that sparks no emotion, or could do no harm can an idea be a form of escape can an idea inspire hope can you travel through an idea, or move around it like a room speaking of, what is a mind palace can an idea keep you alive? Can an idea change your life? Can you fall in love with an idea? Is there an idea you are in love with now? Can you cheat on that idea with other ideas? Are there ideas you regret? Do you only regret ideas that are not followed through? Or do you regret the ideas that you did follow through on? What is the value of an idea? What is the value of ideas? Is the value of ideas relative? Does the value of an idea depend on luck? Does it depend on the situation? Does it depend on having that idea in the right place at the right time? Does an idea have a monetary value? What is the value of ideas that cannot be monetized

How does an idea become something else? How is an idea externalized Why are some ideas externalized and not others What is the filter that stops all ideas from being externalized Is it an issue of resources What is the relationship of ideas to culture Is that too broad or vague a question How do you know if an idea is worth something? Who do you ask to find out if your idea is worth money and How to you get started on an idea

Why share these or any ideas? Who do you share your ideas with, and why What are the ideas you don’t share Are you afraid of sharing ideas Do you feel like your ideas aren’t good enough Do you feel like you don’t have enough idea Do you think of these ideas as yours Do you feel ownership over your ideas

I had an idea for a desk that is also a stage platform. I had an idea for a camera rail sculpture. I had an idea for a printer balancing on a pile of rocks surrounded by fog. I had an idea for the interior of an analog clock embedded into the wall and a toothpick jammed into the gears. I had an idea for a teleprompter with a mind of its own. I had an idea for a phone booth filled with smoke. I had an idea for the symbols on a stage that mark places for actors and objects. I had an idea for a chalkboard as a gymnastics mat and a tub of chalk for my hands and feet. I had an idea for gaff tape.

I had an idea to make hourly motivational paintings. I had an idea to turn my studio into a giant SADD lamp and hold office hours. I had an idea to do a performance with my printer. I had an idea to for a slideshow standup routine. I had an idea for My Last Powerpoint on earth. I had an idea for a text adventure video game where you have to navigate absurd interview questions. I had an idea to perform in stores with model kitchens. I had an idea to build a set of an art studio within my art studio. I had an idea for a performance where I warmly introduce myself to everyone in the room. I had an idea to annotate images of protests and marches I had been to. I had an idea to swap design lessons for dance lessons. I had an idea for a lemonade stand where I sold drawings of horses instead. I had an idea to open my printer queue to people on the street below. I had an idea to act out mental gymnastics in a literal way. I had an idea to recite Paul Goodman’s 9 Kinds of Silence. I had an idea to exit the classroom with a cartwheel.

For a while I had the idea that working at Google was the most interesting thing about me. After the James Damore memo, I sat outside the cafeteria reading a copy of “Are You Smart Enough to Work At Google.” I did a poetry reading from a Slack channel. On the anniversary of the walkout, I sang bad karaoke to my coworkers outside the building where I no longer work. Then I sang karaoke to myself on a bicycle on a very loud 8th Avenue so it didn’t bother anyone.

On February 16, 2019 at Zinc Bar on West 3rd Street CAConrad addressed the Google workforce directly, thanking those of us protesting recent contracts with the Pentagon. “There is room over here, on the side that doesn’t make bombs.”

I was just there to hear some poetry. Thought I was invisible in both worlds. At the intersection of art and technology. I didn’t expect to be addressed by the poet.

Back at school there’s no food in the building besides the overpriced French cafe. The cafe is stuffy, oversized pastoral decor, woven baskets as light fixtures, a huge blue barn door in wooden bookshelves. A hot tea bag comes to $4 even with the student discount. There is free food upstairs in the WeWork, but you have to work there or rent an individual desk, $450 a month. There is a deli on the next block where you can get a hamburger or egg and cheese, but not much in the way of vegetables. Every encounter with a brick and mortar store is negotiated as a treat.

I had an idea for a break room installation. I had an idea for a vending machine with the glass removed. Sara had the idea for a vending machine with a quarter tied to a string. I had an idea to ask my uncle about his failed vending machine business.