A Day at the Museum
“Photographing oneself has become a singular pastime, an instantly rewarding yet indisputably time-sucking activity poised somewhere between narcotic and sport. Welcome to the new narcissism: look at me, like me, comment and retweet and hashtag me. Warhol’s “fifteen seconds of fame” has effectively devolved into a serially renewable data plan. This is selfie culture, writ large.”
“Right now, I’m lost in a transition. The old is dead, and I don’t know what the new is. The only way to find the new is to start different things and see if there’s something that can come out of experimentation. It’s somewhat unsettling, but it’s a hopeful thing in a way. I’ve been here before, lots of times.”
Yesterday was the final day of my August Art Series project. The project—which challenged me to create a new piece of art every day for the month of August—began as an opportunity to form the habit of daily making. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it as I was more interested in the process of developing a habit but about halfway though the month, I found myself surprised at where the pieces were going and I became much more interested in charting my inspiration and following the strange threads that lead me down the various art styles, periods, and genres.
As you look over the month of pieces, you can see definite interests—collage, color, cut paper, drawing. I did not expect the range of output to be so varied and diverse and I especially didn’t expect the inspiration and ideas to come easier and easier as it went on. I thought it’d be nice to conclude the month by looking at some of artists who inspired me over the last few weeks—some of their influence will be very obvious while others may be less direct. I hope that you too, will find inspiration in these works.
Thanks for following along. This was fun.
“Why should a teen send subtle signals about her identity by dressing in a certain brand when she can define herself explicitly on Facebook and Instagram?”
“Might we not do well to take up Chase’s challenge? To look and listen intently, letting ourselves experience our own sensations at the images of life slipping and sliding this way and that on the screen, instead of relying on marketers and formulas to regiment and organize us? It’s not whether a character dies on screen that is at stake, but whether we die to our own capacity for wonder.”
Once you get past the clickbaity headline and intro, this Vox profile on David Chase is actually really, really interesting. The above quote fits in nicely with a topic that comes up on this blog a lot: wonder.
I also oved what he had to say about his first feature film, Not Fade Away: “I guess what I was trying to get to in Not Fade Away is that experiencing art is the closest an atheist or agnostic can get to praying.”
“I’m writing the books to change myself, you know. Writing books is just an experience to me. So when I’ve finished writing a book, I have changed. I don’t write books for bread and butter. I just write books because I want to be something new.”
When I’m writing I believe that somebody else can understand my feelings, somebody else can experience those things I’m experiencing. I call it empathy. When I ran the jazz club, customers came to the club. Maybe eight out of ten wouldn’t like my club. But if two people liked my club, they came back. And my club did well. But some people would want ten out of ten people to like their club. I just think two out of ten is enough. I can feel somebody will know what I’m feeling. It is a lonely life sometimes, like throwing a stone into the deep darkness. It might hit something, but you can’t see it. The only thing you can do is to guess, and to believe. You have to get accustomed to that—to being isolated.
“The internet is full of decontextualized symbology that winds up in the Kangaroo Court of Lulz, which finds things lacking in appeal — although they were not those things’ intended audience. There are other things to aspire to than being cool or even appealing. Comic Sans is fine. You are fine.”
“It’s often badly used,” he goes on, but that’s really a problem with society and not a problem with the typeface. And so Comic Sans joins the ranks of Nickelback and Hot Pockets as a thing you’re only allowed to like in a so-bad-it’s-good way. But I make posters for the library, and sometimes the puppet show poster looks best in Comic Sans. A victimless crime, no? So why does anyone care?
“Wallace had a deep-seated fear of being seen as a fraud, and this fear worked its way into his fiction. In the story “Good Old Neon,” which comes from his last and darkest collection, Oblivion, the narrator explains, “The fraudulence paradox was that the more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you felt inside—you were a fraud.” As Max astutely puts it, “Behind the ordinary fears lurked the fear of being ordinary.””
“The 1990s saw a boom in sweeping metaphors for the entire internet, mostly because it was a time when people who were very excited about the internet were trying to explain it to people who didn’t understand it at all. That’s when you get your “internet superhighways,” “infobahns,” “global villages,” and “coffee houses with a thousand rooms.” But these metaphors weren’t simply clumsy attempts at communicating what the internet was; implicit in each of them was a vision of what the internet ought to be.”
This is a great piece on The Verge from Josh Dzieza on the metaphors we’ve used to talk about the internet. He goes on:
"Information is fairly formless, so almost everything we do online we do with some kind of metaphor," says Judith Donath, who studies interface design at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Moreover, because information is formless, the metaphors we use to describe it are particularly powerful — they’re what gives it form, telling people how a service ought to be used. Software metaphors can be both verbal and visual.
Though I would love to bring back “cyberspace”, I really like the “stream”.
In October I posted a list of some of my favorite New Yorker profiles. With its recent redesign, The New Yorker temporarily made the entire archives available for free for the summer. I devoured a lot of the profiles that were previously locked behind the paywall and want d to share an updated list of some of the profiles I’ve read over the last few months. Enjoy.
But don’t just listen to my suggestions, be sure to read as many as you can while they are still available.