Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital Amputations and Re-Calibration

Just before I get on with my rant, 'Digital Amputation' is not something you should type into google. I've been thinking a lot lately about what's been causing me all this anxiety over the last few months and I seem to have been able to narrow it down a 'bit'.

There are multiple problems and virtues with access and awareness. The most major of which is that I can easily follow the success of others - peers and otherwise. This microstalking does tend to highlight in large, red letters any personal failings.

If not for fear of being 'out of touch', I have seriously considered turning off these taps. I crash heavily when I read about x or y doing this or that whilst I pathetically type a blog entry (aka rant) in my cave.

I try (perhaps not hard enough) not to compare or compete with others around me but I do tend to calibrate my ideas of what 'works' against accomplishments of others.

I really (read REALLY) don't like this model of competing - very much evident in arts funding, awards and other such things - as it's not healthy for those who regularly 'fail'.

We are all told repeatedly to 'not take it personally' but it's inevitable that the failings jolt. Thoughts creep in as to whether the work is unsuccessful and 'needs' to change. This is also extremely unhealthy for a practice, especially if the change is influenced from the 'outside'. Work should evolve naturally and in healthy, creative environments not under outcomes-based pressures.

There is also the issue of opportunity and choice. Growing up in small-town, pre-internet New Zealand, access to information was very much an issue. Something that frustrated me - as others - no end.

Having access to so much can be very rewarding, inspiring, challenging and engaging.

At the other end of the extreme, we are now flooded with so much that we need to work extremely hard to filter out the 'fluff' and avoid distraction.

If you'll excuse the long bow, instead of a single generic can of soup, we now have to choose between not just the aesthetics of the can and the taste of the product but a multitude of other criteria.

We might know that a market in Togo has '...the best tomato soup in the world' and that we are 'foolish' to consume anything less. How do we resolve the 30 cans in front of us at any given moment? Do we taste them all? Have we made the correct decision? Did 14 Dolphins just die because we took a mouthful of this or that? Dare we show our choice to others for fear of ridicule?

There is always this stress (self-imposed) that I should do this or that and if I don't then I feel like I've squandered an opportunity. This fear is something that is widely and financially exploited by a multitude of institutions.

I don't know the solution - personally and otherwise - but I do know that the current cycle I'm in is leaving me so disillusioned that it's extremely hard to pick up the camera.

I did see Kick Starter a few months ago which I appreciate. Even if it's still outcomes-based I think the micro-model opens philanthropy to a different and more excitable demographic than - warning: pomposity - institutionalized, homogenous mediocrity.

No comments: