Social Media is something I am both addicted to and have participated half heartedly in. This doesn’t mean I want to become more immersed in the digital sphere (I check Instagram more than enough), just that I would like to do it with more intention.
Instead of so much spontaneous image sharing I want to try and have my sharing revolve around my thoughts first, images second.
To be honest I don’t think my work is that magnificent to speak for itself. But I do think my ideas are wonderful and worth exploring. Which is why I keep making things and will always make things. One day, hopefully, my actual work will catch up with my concepts and process. But it won’t stop me from making either way.
I just finished reading Show your Work by Austin Kleon, and it was so refreshing. Enlightening in such an easy to read way. Kleon knows how to communicate with visual thinkers. I am trying to make my way through a couple of other books for creatives and it has been a slog with “homework” like feelings.
So I plan to show my work in a new way that focuses more on my thoughts and process first and foremost using the Scientific Method as a loose guideline. Let’s see what happens, oh endless Internet Void.
Before I was born my mother bought herself three Lladro porcelain ballerinas for her birthday. She thought her children would be dancers. Flash forward 30 years and I am most definitely not a ballerina. It seems like an evolutionary flaw and gift that humans are only able to experience their own perspective. She lovingly looked into her optimistic future and saw her daughter as being delicate, beautiful, disciplined, and successful. I view her very wrong expectations as insulting and burdensome. She looks at this porcelain figurine and only sees young hope and love and all I can see is anger and naive heartbreak. I don’t think that makes either one of us wrong and I don’t think it means either one of us did anything wrong.
But this is an ongoing problem. Two people can be standing in the same room at the same time looking at the same item and have two completely different experiences. With art that just makes things more interesting. Which is why art feels like the ultimate form of truth, it is meant to be a subjective experience. Ultimately there is no harm in that, expect one artist might make significantly more money that another. When it comes to more complicated matters such a family, crime, politics… everything gets harder.
If every person experiences are slightly different, even though they are objectively experiencing the same event, how can anyone agree on anything important? A very extreme hyperbole to demonstrate: a woman kills a man. She committed murder she should go to jail. If a woman killed her rapist that changes the perspective. If an accused man (was not successfully murdered) claims a woman is lying and he didn’t “rape” her, that is was consensual, it turns into a he said/she said. Deciding on people’s lives based on perspective. In an ideal world this hypothetical man and woman would be able to communicate and respect the other person’s experience and truth before any of this happened and would have never touched each other in the first place. But again this is an extreme and over simplified example.
A more everyday example: parent and child boundaries. Parents are just trying to keep their children safe, that looks different to each parent. It could result in strict curfews or over involved parents who track their children and only let them hang out with certain people at certain places at certain designated times. The parent is just scared for their child’s well being and views it as their responsibility to keep them safe and healthy. The child might be full of rage at their helicopter parent and lash out because they aren’t allowed to grow and discover on their own and their independent needs are not being met. Neither child or parent are ultimately wrong. But neither is respecting the other’s reality.
This artwork is a result of me trying to represent this idea. I am not saying that wrong and right don’t exist. They definitely do. When anyone oversteps a boundary and causes permanent physical or mental damage to another person there is no excuse that can dismiss that pain. Every person has a responsibility to make sure no matter what they experienced, no matter what issues or damage they have, that they don’t continue the cycle and hurt someone else. Hurting someone else is not a valid response and individual pain is not a valid excuse to cause more pain.
But that isn’t the point of this work. The point of this work is to ask the question if we all see something different how are we going to agree on anything? Nothing is going to get done and nothing is going to get better without a minimal amount of respect for another person’s reality.
In human civilization’s early history survival mainly depended on being physically and mentally able to hunt or gather. To earn food and shelter you had to be part of a community and physically able to contribute to the actual acquiring of the food and the actual creation of the shelter.
Today in our metropolitan society individual survival is dependent on very different abilities. The main one I have noticed is the ability to sell. On the most basic fundamental level, survival is dependent on being able to keep a steady job so you have money to buy quality food and shelter. But how do you acquire and keep the good steady job? You have to be able to write a convincing resume that sells the prospective employer on hiring you. You have to be able to convince said employer who you just met during a 30 minute interview how amazing you are for the mysterious prospective job. Then if you actually get said job, you go into work every day and try no to piss anyone off too badly so they fire you. Or work with anyone that pisses you off too badly to the point of wanting to murder them on a daily basis. Which will also (probably) end with leaving the job one way or another (hopefully not because of jail time).
That is a LOT of salesmanship. That is a whole lot of being able to present your best self while hiding all your flaws and issues just so at the end of the day you have enough “society points” raked up so you can eat and sleep in comfort.
It really feels like it comes down to personal advertising. That idea is proven with our society’s obsession with networking events, facebook, instagram., linked in, tinder, and the 100 other apps made to connect people based on a carefully cultivated digital profile. These are just all different ways to create personalized advertisement. No matter what job you have, your ability to sell people on “liking you” is only going to work to your professional advantage. This is pretty much the basis behind “fake it till you make it”.
There are a few very negative side effects to this. The main one is that honesty and genuine authenticity do not have much worth or weight in this world. I don’t think that means everyone lies and cheats and are horrible people. It means the people who learn how to bend the truth in their favor benefit from it. There isn’t a lot of incentive to be honest. This subtle “harmless” deception makes it harder to be honest with yourself. That is the dangerous part. A person cannot have a healthy relationship with themselves unless they are honest with themselves. How would said person know what they truly need? A person definitely can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone else if they can’t have a relationship with themselves. How would said person know how?
Even if you are honest with yourself it doesn’t help with your society survival skills. Being honest with yourself about how you are severely depressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted and need to take a break doesn’t help with the honest truth that if you don’t put on a happy face and go to work you are not going to get paid. The obvious domino effect follows.
That is what this is all about. My hatred for the required “happy face”. The negative feelings underneath the happy face don’t go away. We all just need to put them in some mysterious place until we have a second to let the feelings happen. Even then they build up very quickly until there is a point where there are too many negative and inconvenient feelings and there is no room, no place, to put them. They just take over.
This is probably why therapy has become so popular. If you are lucky enough to have access to a helpful therapist, it is the only safe place to feel all of your feelings and process them in a healthy productive way. Everywhere else it is in your best interest, from a survival perspective, to act like everything is fine. Since obedience is much more important than authenticity in out society and school systems, therapy is also the only place a lot people learn emotional intelligence which is strongly connected to honesty.
There is no train track for evolution, it’s going to go in the direction it goes in. That is looking like a very Photoshopped and auto-tuned direction from where I am sitting. But I think it is very important to recognize the negative effects. The damage done with these unrealistic required expectations that lead people to hurt themselves and others in many different ways. The overwhelming noise of all the negativities we don’t want anyone to find out about and that we have no where to put is only going to hurt everyone in the long run.