Reflecting on Selfie-Reflecting~

Are you in your selfie?

After this week’s discussion on selfies, that’s been the question I’ve been mulling over in my mind. And, to be honest, I’ve no answers–just more to wonder about.

Reflections on Reflections

I’ve already said much about selfies myself but I was interested to hear what my peers had to say about the emerging genre of digital art & creation. More, I was interested in what people thought of the idea of selfies being a form of communication.

To many, that seemed readily apparent.

Selfies contain messages. They are messages.

At least, they can be.

Something I didn’t necessarily connect but that others did is how this added element of communication seems to necessitate that selfies always be a social act.

Can selfies be keepsakes? Or, must they always be public in order to have a dialogue? Does the selfie’s communication matter as much when it’s only communicating with you? In my opinion, that kind of communication is the most important and speaks to that level of self-reflection Jerry Saltz seemed to be getting at in his article on the art history of the selfie.

Still, what was perhaps of even more interest than all of this was some comments made earlier on about the “illusion” of life selfies seem to reference or comment on:

(Check out the whole story)

When viewed in this light, selfies become ways to alter the perception of the self but also the perception of the world. More, they becomes a means to take back some control and also assert control. This, to me, speaks to the empowering nature of the selfie (something I discuss more in-depth in my prior post). Selfies and the acts of taking them are not just some new digital extensions of vanity. Dismissing them as such not only mis-characterizes them but ignores so much potential, so much information about what it is and means to be human.

Selfies are becoming the language of us. I mean, we’re using ourselves to convey the experience of life. Our experiences are in dialogue with each other with the advent of the selfies in ways they never were before.

That matters. That shouldn’t be dismissed.

Do You Look at Me Different Now? #SelfieUnselfie

The other idea I’ve been totally captured by this week is that of the unselfie. Perhaps the concept has been peddled before but, in light of my own findings on the subject of the selfie as of late, it’s such an arresting idea. It makes me pause, stop and think about not just how I present myself to the world but how I don’t.

Again, as I mentioned in my previous post on selfies, I believe selfies are not only a burgeoning language but a very vulnerable one. I mean, we’re putting our faces out there for people to interact with, yes, but also for them (our messages, too) to be critiqued. It’s an incredibly vulnerable thing to do, an aspect of the selfie I don’t believe is always appreciated.

Anyway, that said, are selfies really all that vulnerable when they are rather staged and selective? Would a picture of some other part of our lives–excluding our faces–convey the same messages abut us that our selfies do? Is that important?

The #SelfieUnselfie Project seeks to explore those very questions:

To be honest, for all my selfies I’ve taken over the years, I found this project difficult. I looked around the spaces I typically occupy–searching for myself–and wondered if I was anywhere to be found?

Then, I realized I was looking for the girl in my selfies. Not me. Not the person behind the selfie.

Don’t get me wrong–sometimes those two people meet in one. But, oft, they live separate lives. Similar, yes. But separate till they merge in the moment of the selfie. Till the experience and the act of the selfie synthesize them. (Does that make sense? Or, does anyone else feel that way? It’s not that my selfies aren’t me or aren’t truthful depictions of me but, well, the truth is more of spectrum.)

Anyway, what I kept returning to was the bedside table. My bedside table. Dr. Zamora mentioned possibly sharing her bedside table as her unselfie and I was and still am taken with that idea. On my bedside table are the items I obviously want closest to me when I first wake up and, again, when I finally lay my head down. To me, those items embodied, well, me. They’re the most integral parts of me not physically a part of me.

(I shared my #selfieunselfie post on Instagram but wasn’t able to fit everything I had to say about the topic there but it’s all here~)

I post many pictures of myself online and in digital spaces. This selfie is typical of the ones I usually share (in fact, I did post it here on the gram a few months back~). Face larger than life. Skin smooth like porcelain and glowing as if from within. Hint of pink. A light burning low in the background. Not a shiny hair out of place. My eyes staring at you but not–not really. They look through. They look more glass-like. More doll-like.

I look like a doll. Painted smile and all.

Always pretty. Always happy.

What you don’t see in any of the pictures I post are the dark circles from too many sleepless nights. You don’t see the anxiety usually alight in my eyes during the day. Don’t see the clock I always feel ticking away, just behind it all.

You can’t see my bedside table or you’d know me.

On my bedside table, you can see I keep a bottle of melatonin, a half-empty bottle of NyQuil, and an essential oil to induce sleep–my oil diffuser (glowing my favorite purple) just behind my shrine of offerings to sleep. On the wall behind, you can see the shadow of the dreamcatcher that hangs from my bedpost, its black feathers just in frame. Anything worth a shot and if good dreams come too, all the better~

Sleep has always been a problem for me, something I dread even during the day (if you have trouble sleeping, you get the stress). I never know if I’ll get to sleep that night. When paired with my anxiety about time and never having enough–for what? I don’t know–I think it’s easier to understand the other keepsakes. Along with my sleep aids, I have a ball of sticky tack, a fidget cube, and another stress-reliever shaped like a little white kitten to squish. Small stimulants and sensation-inducing toys to preoccupy my senses from otherwise overwhelming me. I’ll even worry the little, purple stone heart beside my clock–though it’s actually a gift from someone I love dearly and can’t be with the way I’d like right now. So, it’s more of a small piece of them to keep close to me.

Anyway, there’s a lot of my anxieties laid bare on my bedside table that you would never see reflected in my usual selfies. If you’re into close readings, you can even see hints of my forgetfulness (perhaps addled by lack of sleep >.>)–a pair of earrings, my bottom ones things I always forget to take out before I go to bed, and my birth control, just peeking out from behind my shrine of sleep aids, close on-hand so I don’t forget.

Selfies don’t usually share these parts of ourselves, despite them being integral to ourselves. (If my melatonin weren’t right there tonight, I’d be at a loss, you know?) Though, I’m not sure if it’s strictly because we want to hide these things from other people. I mean, I’m not ashamed of any of the items I keep on my bedside table. Nor, am I ashamed of my usual selfies. One’s just easier, maybe, to share? There are less questions to answer–if anyone even cares to ask any. Maybe one is more difficult to share, though, because it asks people to care more deeply and that’s not always an easy request to make or meet.

What do you think?

Can you see me in both images? More, do you see me differently now that you’ve seen the other?

My Make

(Want to find out more about the #SelfieUnselfie project and installation or find out how to post and share one of your own? Check out the Make Bank on the project.)

Unreflections on Unreflections

When I compare my selfie to my unselfie, I find myself looking for connections more than what disconnects one from the other. Like, I know both have hearts which were both gifts from people I love and miss dearly. (The heart necklace I’m wearing in the selfie was a gift from a therapist whose help and kindness really touched me and have made all the difference so many years later.)

I don’t believe the purpose of this project is to separate us from ourselves so much as unite us. Provide a clearer picture. Emphasize that no sum of parts is greater than the whole they create. Different but not so much as they seem~

But enough about me. Let me tell you, this selfie unit has made me tired of me lol

When you see your selfie and your unselfie beside each other, what do you find? What do you see? Are you really as different from yourself as you think?

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Links

Daily Digital Alchemies

Fave DDA:

*For #DDA156 (one I submitted), I chose to share a poem from a mentor book I’ve been reading for my advanced poetry writing course this semester. The book is Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim and I’ve recommended in on my blog before, in the Goodies section. I think the poem relates well to the subject of the #selfieunselfie. At least, it captures the idea of duality and of reconciling with our own duality in order to “let the light shine through”, if you will.

Twit 1 & Twit 2

*Btw I think my Google Arts & Culture selfie-match is spectacular, like spot-on:

Goodies

*Another DDA I complete this week involves me writing another short story to add to my unsettling Killing It Tag. If you like spooky or disturbing little story inspired by bot nonsense, I highly recommend checking it out ^.^ Also, this week’s story has to do with sight and vision which is also related to the selfie. Go figure~

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Unsettling tales straight out of my head to yours~

(*This is an acrylic cut-out that is a part of a project I am working on it metals that you will hopefully get to see soon btw~)

*Cool and informative article on memes and their connection to Neo-Dadaism, for anyone interested on the topic like me. (Thanks @rissacandiloro)

*A series I’ve been reading that I’ve really been enjoying is V.E. Schwab’sShades of Magic series. It’s her first adult fiction series and it’s excellent. It’s all about magic and travelling between worlds, finding the one that you fit into. The characters are distinct and enjoyable–both to root for and to hate. My favourite character is Holland, in case anyone wants to know~ (He’s kind of awful but I love him <3)

*Has anyone watched Altered Carbon on Netflix yet? I hear it’s good but I’d love a recommendation~

*Also, if you aren’t planning to see or if you haven’t watched Black Panther yet, why not? It was a great movie with some very compelling characters and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet. For anyone who’s hesitant or skeptical because of the hype, I want you to know I was too but the hype was real~ (Don’t let that sway you from checking out the flick)

~Till NextTime~

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Memed Out~

Tbh, I kind of never want to hear the word “meme” again.

Anyway….

MEMES

Credit @stryii~

In class this week, we explored the fascinating world of meme-making and meme-meaning-making(?)~ In order to accomplish that, we had to descend into the depths of those dank memes I hate myself. We got our hands dirty making our own memes.

The Make Bank gave our creative selves some direction, though. More, it provided some purpose to why we were exploring memes as well as some ideas about how memes can communicate more than just a silly joke or a cultural phenomena.

For example, the first activity asked us to not only “meme the meme” but find out where it came from. I made 2 though I really only discovered the background on one of my memes.

The first meme I made is the featured image on my post. Most of may know him as the screaming ART guy (he made an appearance as the featured image on my last post on digital art). I was not able to find him in the Know Your Meme database but I was able to find out through the Iron Giant Wiki the character is from the movie The Iron Giant and his name is Dean McCoppin. He is a beatnik and a scrap artist who helps the main character of the movie, Hogarth, with the Iron Giant. (I’m adding the movie to my too-watch list so I can discover the context for myself~)

My second meme is perhaps more in line with what the activity was asking of us:

This meme is called “This Is Where I’d Put My Trophy, If I Had One” and has its origins in the Fairly Oddparents animated cartoon series. According to Know Your Meme, the titular phrase that inspires this meme comes from an episode titled “Father Time.” Here’s a clip of the scene:

The phrase is said by the father of Timmy Turner, the series main character. In the episode, Timmy travels to an alternate timeline where he meets his father, who is the dictator of the world but never won the prized childhood marathon trophy that the father in Timmy’s timeline did. Thus, the meme is used to convey anger that the user is without something they want.

Came up with another ’cause I think I’m funny~

My Make

The second activity had us meme a hobby or interest of our own. Which, I think is a creative idea. I’ve never heard of it before and I don’t think the genre is a big one if it exists on the world wide web. That may be because the memes are more personal and it’s usually memes that resonate more universally with people (like the Tide Pods meme) that spread and get remixed and re-memed.

Anyway, I chose to meme something near and dear to my heart:

I found the photo on one of the free image-sharing sites recommended and memed it. Again, because it’s specific, I’m not sure if anyone else gets it or finds it remotely funny but I guarantee if I shared with some friends from the studio or if I printed it out and hung it up in the Metals studio on campus, I’d get some chuckles.

What do you think? Are personal memes just that–personal? For those of you who don’t bang on metal in their free time, has this meme conveyed anything to you about the jewelry-making process? Let me know~

My Make

As for the final activity, we memed an episode of Black Mirror–“Nosedive“. For anyone who doesn’t know what Black Mirror is, it’s a anthology TV series available on Netflix. Each episode essentially explores the extremes of advancing technology, the results of which are usually awful, unsettling, disturbing, or some combination of the three. In “Nosedive”, as put in this article about the episode, the question, “What if phones but too much?” is explored. More, what if social media controlled every aspect of your life from your social life to your job to your housing to your access to basic amenities and services. It’s wild, to say the least. A nightmare, to say the most.

Anyway, we got some great memes out of this episode. Like this one:

Credit @rissacandiloro

I watched over the creator’s shoulder >.> as they made it and I got to say, I’m kind of jealous I didn’t come up with it~ The one I did come up with is “Nosedive” specific but I could see it being applied outside of that context. (It’s a smidge X-rated too….)

In my meme, I’m referencing a scene from the episode where Lacie Pound (the main character) gets into a bit of a disagreement with a flight concierge. I believe Lacie missed her flight and because her rating wasn’t high enough, she couldn’t be bumped up to priority for the next flight or something(?) Anyway, Lacie tried to keep her cool but failed spectacularly when she finally snapped and asked the concierge is she could just, “f*cking help her!” Seemed very meme-able to be. Also relatable like who hasn’t wanted to curse out a customer service rep??? Even though it’s not their fault. It’s the impulse. And the frustration.

I used the ever-popular “Evil Kermit” meme~ Essentially, sith Kermit represents your inner or intrusive thoughts that typically suggest you do something you know you shouldn’t but wish you could.

My Make

Making Memeing Meaning

So, I guess a big question that came up, in regards to both memes and “Nosedive”, is, “What is this all about???” What kind of message is being conveyed?

In “Nosedive”, I think a warning about the pervasiveness not just of social media but of its increasing usage as a place of self-validation is being presented. While it seems unrealistic at the time of this post that all social media applications will consolidate into one conglomerate, it is not unrealistic that the evaluative systems they use (i.e likes, or ups, or <3s) could be used to affect other things our lives. In some ways, this already happens. As Patrice mentioned in class on Tuesday, credit scores already affect large aspects of one’s life and one’s access–and those scores are readily available to anyone who wants to view them.

To be honest, I’m only vaguely concerned about anything close to what occurred in Black Mirror really happening but I did find the premise of this episode to be unsettling in that “too close to home” way. I worry all the time that people are becoming increasingly unable to properly appreciate moments in their lives. Like, nothing means anything unless it’s posted online and validated by other people with likes or what the f*ck ever that yes, it means something. That really does worry me. It seems like we’re getting closer and closer to performing our lives instead of living them. I love so many aspects of social media and of digital spaces and digital media but I’m also very concerned and scared about many aspects too. Some people simply can’t seem to handle it and it’s always those people who are setting examples. I hope a shift in how we use social media or in how we navigate digital spaces occurs soon. With education on the topic finally entering academic spaces, I hope that shift will occur soon.

As for the meaning behind memes, I love ’em.

And I hate ’em.

….If I had to choose, I guess I’d say I hate to love ’em but I love to hate ’em.

I think I made a post a while back comparing memes to the sprinkles of the internet. They’re that dash of a little something extra that makes the internet enjoyable.

Gotta love that there’s a meme for everything~

I still stand by that assessment. I think it’s pretty accurate. Like sprinkles are not necessary for an ice cream sundae but they kind of make the experience, right? If they’re not there, it’s a noticeable difference. If memes weren’t around, I think the internet would still be pretty great but it’d be missing that extra oomph that just makes the experience. Does that make sense?

I think memes are the glue that hold us all together omg I hate myself. They’re possibly the most universal elements on the internet. They are relatable and they have resonance. Usually, they speak to some aspect of the human experience that we all understand, seemingly regardless of language or even culture in some cases.

For instance, my sister and I love Russian cat memes. We have been sending them back and forth to each other for months now and they never grow old. Do either of us speak a lick of Russian??? Я немного понимаю. (извините, принесите пожалуйста бутылку водки! (Excuse me, please bring a bottle of vodka!) is also good to know~) But no, we don’t know much Russian between us. Still, these are enjoyable:

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Our favourite~ The amount of times a day we say “Give ringlets”….

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Memes are fast becoming the language of the internet. Which is of immense interest to me. At this point, I think it’s obvious I find there to be an art to meme-making. Of the art, though, I’m particularly interested in how it seems to be reviving Dada and Surrealist ideals. I see traces of these movements in this new wave/form of creation. Actually, I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing my thesis on Neo-Dadaism and Neo-Surrealism in new digital media such as ELit, memes, and gifs. Also, Dada was a response to the absurdity of WWI–all these first world nations, commonly considered the pinnacles of culture, fighting over 50 feet of mud–and I’m curious if I could find a similar impetus in the real world for the resurgence of Dada forms in art. It’s something I’ve already written a little about while reviewing a piece of ELit by Jason Nelson a few semesters back.

Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s something I could do or who I would even consult about it but it sparks my creative interest and meshes well with my background in art history and fine arts, as well.

It’s something this work has got me thinking of, at the very least.

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Links

Selfie Post: Check out my thoughts on the Selfie medium. I analyse a few different viewpoints on the subject as well as discuss or, really, make a case for why the Selfie is a form of art and one that has meaning and value in our world. Highly recommend checking this out before our Twitter chat on Tuesday night (2/13).

Daily Digital Alchemies

This week’s fave~

Twit 1 & Twit 2

Hypothes.is

Goodies

*Wisecrack on Youtube has 2 great videos on the philosophy of Black Mirror if you’d like to check them out. This one is pre-4th season and this one is after the 4th season came out. The latter looks at the show through the 4th season’s last episode “Black Museum”.

~Till Next Time~

 

Selfie-Reflecting~

(I’ve rocked a few regrettable interesting looks, huh???)

Images are moments and if moments are experiences, then what experience does the “selfie” capture?

What is the selfie? What does it represent?

Society Says….

Well, that depends.

When it comes to social perceptions, the selfie, like most new digital media, typically gets a bad rep. What did you think society would say???

According to one article in Jezebel, by Erin Gloria Ryan, “Selfies aren’t empowering; they’re a high tech reflection of the f*cked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.” and “Selfies aren’t empowering little sources of pride, nor are they narcissistic exercises by silly, conceited b*tches. They’re a logical technically enabled response to being brought up to think that what really matters is if other people think you’re pretty.”Wow. Did you catch that double “not empowering”?

But, is this a fair assessment of the selfie? Is there nothing redeemable about this new digital form?

The article Ryan write hers in response to begs to differ. In “Selfies Are Good for Girls”, author Rachel Simmons says of selfies,“If you write off the endless stream of posts as image-conscious narcissism, you’ll miss the chance to watch girls practice promoting themselves—a skill that boys are otherwise given more permission to develop, and which serves them later on when they negotiate for raises and promotions.” More, Simmons asserts, “The selfie suggests something in picture form—I think I look [beautiful] [happy] [funny] [sexy]. Do you?—that a girl could never get away with saying. It puts the gaze of the camera squarely in a girl’s hands, and along with it, the power to influence the photo’s interpretation.” This idea that the selfie can be a means of self-promotion and new form of communication otherwise unavailable on a personal scale is echoed in an interview conducted by NPR with digital artist, Molly Soda. Soda says, “I think a selfie is a really, really positive thing, whether or not its art, it’s super positive affirmation of self-love. And taking your photo and putting it on the Internet for the world to see is an act of positivity.” And, of the selfie’s particular dialogue, she says, “When I’m scrolling on my Instagram and I see a photo of a girl that she took of herself and I know she’s feeling really good that day about herself, that makes me feel good and that makes me want to photograph myself, and I think it’s a chain reaction.”

So, which is it?

Are selfies vain, self-centered, narcissistic, self-indulgent, and exploitative at best? Or, can they be these positive, celebrations of the self–especially for women?

More, are these even the right questions we should be asking? Are they detracting or distracting from what the selfie truly represents? Or, what it could represent? We could argue a moral imperative all semester and never reach any conclusions, in my mind. More, this kind of argument reduces the selfie to nothing more or less than an extension vanity or personal expression. This kind of discussion leads nowhere, to me, and fails to adequately recognize a new genre of digital media, of digital art: The Selfie.

Where’s the Art?

In Soda’s interview, she refers to selfies as “an exploratory art form” and, when discussing whether or not the selfie is art, she refers to “the selfie culture”. Not the phenomenon. Culture. To me, the intersection of culture and exploration finds you in the heart of art. ❤

That said, as with social perceptions, perceptions in the art world typically leaned towards skeptical at best when discussing the selfie. (If we were playing “Sh*t People Say About Digital Media” bingo, I’d have “the decline of culture”, “global calamity”, “millennials”, &, to abbreviate, “tech bad” all marked off from reading some of the “less-credible” sources I came across~)

Anyway, attitudes seem to be shifting away from not even considering the selfie in the realm of art to giving it not only worthwhile consideration but even an exhibition this past year. For anyone who’s familiar with how the art world operates, that’s a huge shift. New genres–which are defined in the art world as forms that, “possess their own formal logic, with tropes and structural wisdom, and last a long time until all the problems they were created to address are addressed (different from style i.e Impressionism, Cubism, Dada)–arise very rarely and curators, art critics, art historians, and art enthusiasts tend to be lukewarm at best when it comes to new genres. (Some never warm up)

So, what’s the word on the selfie?

It seems that despite social perceptions or personal convictions, there is a “selfie-ness” that all selfies share and that is easily identifiable. We all know when we’re looking at a selfie, yeah? In “Selfies Are Art”, an article in The Atlantic that addresses both Ryan and Simmon’s articles, author Noah Berlatsky directly states, “The selfie may be good or it may be bad, but Simmons and Ryan agree that its essence is all one thing or all the other. Aberrations are to be explained away.” More, Berlastsky says, “The selfie is a deliberate, aesthetic expression—it’s a self-portrait, which is an artistic genre with an extremely long pedigree. There can be bad self-portraits and good self-portraits, but the self-portrait isn’t bad or good in itself. Like any art, it depends on what you do with it.”

In the article for the exhibition on selfies, curator Nigel Hurst, when asked if selfies are art is quoted as responding, “The simple answer to that is that everything can be art if it’s followed through by the maker with enough conviction and coherence, and also that enough people accept and believe that it’s art…We’re not saying that the slideshow of a teenager trying out various poses is as significant as a work by Rembrandt, but the art world cannot ignore this phenomenon.”

Now, it’s interesting that both Hurst and Berlatsky, unlike Simmons or Ryan, compare the selfie to a contemporary portraiture. That said, this is a fairly common comparison made. The excellent and enlightening Art Assignment channel on Youtube has a rather in-depth video on the subject, comparing self-portraits and self-taken photos to the contemporary selfie.

While a strong case is made for the selfie being an extension or an evolution of the self-portraiture genre and, certainly, being associated with such a prestigious genre with such a long history would be a boon, not everyone is of this mind–myself included.

In a Vulture article by Jerry Saltz, a case is made for why the selfie is its own distint genre, separate from traditional portraiture.

Saltz says, “These [Selfies] are not like the self-portraits we are used to. Setting aside the formal dissimilarities between these two forms—of framing, of technique—traditional photographic self-portraiture is far less spontaneous and casual than a selfie is. This new genre isn’t dominated by artists. When made by amateurs, traditional photographic self-portraiture didn’t become a distinct thing, didn’t have a codified look or transform into social dialogue and conversation. These pictures were not usually disseminated to strangers and were never made in such numbers by so many people. It’s possible that the selfie is the most prevalent popular genre ever.

Essentially, selfies are not portraits.  At least, they aren’t just portraits.

(“If both your hands are in the picture and it’s not a mirror shot, technically, it’s not a selfie—it’s a portrait.”)

Aside from technical differences–that the camera is in the hands of the photographer, always within arm’s length (making a hint of the arm a feature of most), off-center subjects, distorted or exaggerated features due to the camera lenses of most phones,–selfies convey a different meaning than a traditional self portrait or photograph.

Selfies are almost always present, too. Traditional portraiture and photography was simply incapable of that immediacy. Even if the selfie shared is from a few years back or is used in a #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram, there is still this sense of the original posting, this sense of a moment captured to be instantly shared. Selfies are experiences meant, almost always, to be shared, whether with a small audience or a large one. This also means most selfies are not accidental. Of this, Saltz states, “Whether carefully staged or completely casual, any selfie that you see had to be approved by the sender before being embedded into a network. This implies control as well as the presence of performing, self-criticality, and irony. The distributor of a selfie made it to be looked at by us, right now, and when we look at it, we know that. (And the maker knows we know that.)”

In this way, I do find selfies to be empowering, especially to women who have been subjected to the male gaze and all that applies for all of history. Being able to control the perception of yourself, even in such a small way, is an assertion of power. Despite what Ryan says in her article, that element of control is in and of itself what makes the selfie an empowering art form. That selfies can only be responses to a societal standard already in play or that selfies can never be anything other than an extension of this need for validation from others seems like an over-generalization, to me. And, that stance does not allow for the selfie to be looked at as an art form.

In fact, as the genre has come into its own, “selfie culture” seems to be more about subverting expectations. Or, it’s about questioning expectations. Asking people to see more than is usually expected.

Selfies become more that self-portraits, then. They become invitations to a dialogue, a conversation in which we all participate.

Say What???

Now, you may say, “Kelli” or “Heltsekffkkfj” whatever the f*ck, right? (idk how you refer to me in your head, if you do) “I don’t even take selfies. How can I be a part of this ‘conversation’ you speak of??? What even kind of conversation is being carried out through selfies?”

I’m glad you asked~

See, whether or not you’ve personally taken a selfie, you’ve seen them, you know people who take them, you’ve seen people take them. Point is, you know what they are. Selfies are almost as pervasive as they are controversial. Or, controversial as they are pervasive?? Think those 2 things go hand in hand. More to the point, you’ve interacted with selfies. You’ve read them or you read them, so to speak, almost daily. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m pretty good at telling a “show-off” shot from a “I’m feeling nice today” one. There’s a different feeling a Kim K. selfie gives off than one of my co-worker Christina, staring straight into the camera with slight smile, yeah? However you categorize selfies–and I bet you do–you know there are differences, differences conveyed only in that slight smile, eyes half looking at the camera, half at some point above it, only in that superior tilt of one’s chin, that glimmer in their eye, that hint of a curvaceous figure in the mirror.

Selfies have a language and we are all fast becoming fluent in it.

Saltz says, “Selfies are our letters to the world. They are little visual diaries that magnify, reduce, dramatize—that say, ‘I’m here; look at me.'” He continues on to speak about what some of his favorite kinds of selfies are: “Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good selfie. I like the ones that metamorphose into what might be called selfies-plus—pictures that begin to speak in unintended tongues, that carry surpluses of meaning that the maker may not have known were there. Barthes wrote that such images produce what he called ‘a third meaning,’ which passes ‘from language to significance.'” Saltz likes selfies that tell stories. That speak of things beyond the literal, beyond just the self in the selfie. Things that are not spoon-fed to readers but that are still present, just below the surface. And, if you care to look, you can see them. “I’m talking about more unstable, obstinate meanings that come to the fore: fictions, paranoia, fantasies, voyeurism, exhibitionism, confessions—things that take us to a place where we become the author of another story. That’s thrilling. And something like art.”

Isn’t it?

But it’s more than art. It’s all of those meanings just below the surface coming into conversation with themselves and with us. We interpret. We imagine. We investigate. We create. Then, we share.

In this article, Saltz shares a selfie a man took on a trip to Auschwitz. What do you see? More, what do you feel?

It’s not just a selfie, right? There are so many associations culminating in this one imagine that create story that is more than its selfie parts. Maybe you’re horrified that this kid thought it was okay to make a “joke” out of Auschwitz. Maybe you’re not surprised. Maybe you feel something else. Point it, you feel something. You’re reacting to something conveyed. Something was said and you have a response. You are in dialogue with this selfie.

Not all selfies ask us new questions. Some confirm what we knew. Maybe this one confirmed you lack of faith in humanity…. Some ask us just to bask in a moment with the taker of the selfie, to share it with them. To imagine the experience of something. Like this one by astronaut Aki Hoshide :

This selfie, I would say, veers into one of the many categories Saltz identified in his article, the category of “selfie thinking” that he describes only as, “It’s the invisible thought balloon over the subjects. ‘It is totally incomprehensible, even to us, to be us,’ they [selfies] are saying, ‘or to be us, being here.'” In this way, selfies become confirmations of the self and then confirmations of the experience as we bear witness to it. More, as you bear witness to it. Selfies are a documentation of the experience of yourself experiencing something. Selfies transcend questions of vanity and of narcissism when they are allowed to enter this realm.

In this way, selfies capture the experience of the self. More, they capture our experience of ourselves, new digital media allowing them to enter into dialogue with themselves and with the world without.

A Note on Personal Responsibility

All this said, that doesn’t mean the genre is without its faults. It’s new and burgeoning and exploratory and experimental which leaves it open to making a lot of mistakes.

Funeral selfies, anyone??? Not a great idea. Though the blog is Great™

Also, that selfie of the guy at Auschwitz is not a stand-out. In fact, it’s becoming a disturbing trend. While I’m not sure the rise of the selfie itself is solely to blame for this trend, I do agree that it’s facilitating this kind of disrespect and dissociation from reality, from the gravity of one’s actions that social media at large is taking heat for. As mentioned in the article, there’s this growing disaffection and, really, inability to appreciate moments themselves without commemorating them via digital means. Like, things don’t mater or can’t unless they’re shared and validated through that act of sharing. Again, I don’t think the selfie should be wholly held accountable for this. Remember, there is a person behind the selfie.

Do You Hear Me?

Personally, I’m a bit of a selfie queen.

My own Instragram is essentially a shrine to myself. (Is that really so bad, though?)

Anyway, selfies are my go-to photo. Over the years, I’ve taken more selfies than I care to admit. Before I had a smartphone, I was taking selfies with my digital camera and uploading them to my computer like a savage~

Now, all it takes is the right angle and a click.

That said, I’ve always found selfies to be introspective. Especially when you can view many of them in concert with each other, you hear a story. Or, they tell a story–the story of you. I can see how I’ve changed–or haven’t. I can look at myself from many angles~

I can see which parts of my story hit, too. For instance, this is the latest piece of my story:

I know what the caption beneath says but what does it tell you? Even without the caption, would you still get a sense of my message?

I may be biased but I think so.

There’s about that far-off look that’s almost contemplative, thoughtful. Though the camera is angled below me, my head is still tilted, to the side so that my hair angles downward. The camera may be pointed up but I’m being dragged down. There’s the straight line of my mouth. The glow of my painted face that is at odds with the flat look in my eyes. Then, of course, there’s all the deep, black Xs slashed around my head, creating a disconcerting halo that also conflicts with the overall glow of my face. Even without saying anything, I think it’s clear that I’m experiencing a conflict of emotions. Maybe I’m battling something? I think the question is there and that is the power of the selfie in action, the art of it.

This selfie is the story of me in this moment, performed by me–maybe–but definitely lived by me. It is the embodiment of an experience. One that I wanted to share–not because I can’t appreciate what I feel and the moment I live in or because I need someone to validate it for it to be real but because I do appreciate my moments and believe there is something worthwhile in allowing them to be shared experiences. So many people are afraid to be vulnerable and I think the only way to overcome that is to show that everyone feels it.

Selfies are vulnerable.

They are our faces. What’s that expression, “save face”? Selfies literally do not allow you to spare any part of your face, let alone save it. It’s you, for all the world to see. It’s what you want to say about yourself for all the world to hear. That’s such a vulnerable position to put yourself in. I think we need to appreciate that more. We can by not dismissing selfies outright and reducing them to only one thing and instead by trying to listen and to read between the frames and to always understand there is a person behind at the heart of? every selfie~

****

Links

Twit 1 & Twit 2

Hypothes.is

Goodies

*Missing a collection of pics of people taking selfies? Here you go. I didn’t cover it in my post but this a big thing people do now–take photos of people taking photos. I suppose some people think it’s meta. Others just like being assh*les–which is, granted, fun sometimes. Some might fancy they’re making social commentary. What’s your stance?

*If You’re interested in the story behind this selfie (yes, this is Ai Weiwei and those police officers behind him are arresting him), I’d highly recommend checking out another video by The Art Assignment where they explain the story behind the selfie as well as the man and his work behind the selfie~

*Selfiecity is a project that’s investigating the selfies of 5 different cities, using a mix of theoretic, artistic, and quantitative methods. It seems like the project is interested in what implications of the selfie can be applied to a larger context, such as a city. It’s a very informative site and the essays seem well-researched and contrived. I wish I had more time to explore the site for my work but I highly recommend checking this site out!

~Till Next Time~

Degenerate Art 2.0~

Putting That Art History Minor To Task…

New art always gets a bad rep.

Whether it’s the Dada nonsense of Duchamp (i.e. his lovely Fountain) or the Neo-Dada digitized nonsense embodied in some works of ELit such as in Jason Nelson’s This is How You Will Die, there will be critics and they will be harsh.

Digital art is the newest on the scene and so I believe that’s part of why there is so much skepticism surrounding it. Some people think it is inherently less because of its digital assistance. There’s something less real about it as if anything at all is really real. Also, I’ve noticed there’s this perception that it takes less skill to create digital work which somehow translates to less meaning and less thoughtfulness. As if one couldn’t possibly imbue a work made through a digital medium with even a modicum of meaning that oil on canvas can. These people have obviously never had to code a thing a day in their lives or never placed something on the WRONG layer in Photoshop >.< There’s this traditional idea of toil and suffering for one’s art, blood and sweat, that isn’t realized the same way in the creation of digital art that establishes this disconnect.

That said, from the tone of Tuesday’s night’s twitter chat, it seems attitudes are in the process of shifting. Most people, myself included, have not only experienced digital art and found something worthwhile in it but have contributed to its proliferation and propagation–We’ve spread it. We’ve created it. We appreciate it.

At least, in some form.

Many of us have made memes or gifs or have learned how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Microsoft Paint was “old hat” to some. DeviantArt (which makes me think of Degenerate Art and of how reclaiming language can have a profound and powerful affect) had a vocal advocate, too. It was very clear that, at least among our cohort, digital art isn’t the new Degenerate Art.

It’s our art.

We were sympathetic towards the issues of surrounding digital art. For example, it’s very easy to re-post art online without providing proper attribution to artists. To me, this contributes to that problem of digital art being perceived as cheaper because the work that goes into creating it is seen as less. This leads to a trickle-down devaluation of the medium in that it makes people unwilling to pay a fair commission price for digital work due to the perception that because it is so widely available, it must be a simple task to create. Which is simply not true.

Of course, questions of accessibility also arise. Most of us, perhaps because of the above situation, don’t see digital art as a commodity so much as we do an amenity of the internet. It’s decorative or it’s fun or funny, entertaining. And because it’s online and not in a museum, we feel more entitled to it, maybe? I felt an undercurrent of this feeling in our Twitter chat. I don’t think money came up at all which says a lot about how we think of digital art and work that exists in digital spaces to me.

And, while I’m all for allowing people to have access to beautiful and meaningful works, regardless of their economic status, sex, race, creed, etc., I don’t think the rampant, creditless re-posting and exploitation or artists’ work is a fair system. More, it pushes artists towards having to fund themselves through other means and on online platforms, that means ads~

Ultimately, the system devalues what it should be promoting.

Discourages it.

Which is so unfortunate because I do believe there is a lot of potential to create beauty and meaning and even beautiful, meaningless nonsense through digital means.

Finding Meaning

Writing is my art.

As evidenced by my class’s estimation of their own skills, I’d say I’m not alone in that thinking. Which makes sense since most if not all of us are either Writing Studies majors or teachers whose content area is Writing. What makes even more sense is our own estimation of what skills of ours are underdeveloped.

What was interesting to me, though, was how many of us counted photography among our skills. This, I believe, relates to double-edged word: accessibility–all of us have phones that double as cameras now. We have ample opportunity to exercise this skill.

We had opportunities to exercise our photography skills this week.

First: A Photo Safari. 7 challenges/prompts. 15 minutes to respond with photos to as many of the prompts as possible. 1 freezing cold, Northeastern USA day and 1 dreadfully dull university campus. What could go wrong???

Tbh, nothing much.

In fact, I think we all showed off our photo-taking skills rather well. For myself, I was surprised at how many pictures I was able to capture–6 out of 7.

My favourites have to be these (in response to prompts 2, 3, & 7):

This is probably my favourite photo overall. I like how my shadow is replicated in the glass and how it is superimposed over the mask. If I had the means, I would’ve liked to have more of the “face part” of my shadow overlaying the mask. I think it would’ve created a more complex dissonance. What is my true face, you know?

I stand by my decision to put a black & white filter on the photo. It really emphasizes the shadowy parts of this composition and, to me, adds a sense of mystery or of foreboding.

#Aesthetic

(My responses to prompts 1, 4, 5)

As you can tell, I’m kind of a filter junkie. But, I think my filter choices resonate with the content of my photos. The filters emphasize a tone or help create a feeling. Of course, it’s always nice to incorporate those elements “naturally” and in the original composition if possible. But if you can’t, it’s nice to still have the opportunity to do it. Good example of access.

If memes and gifs are the sprinkles of the internet then filters are the sprinkles of photography~

Another opportunity we had to explore and build-upon our photography know-how was an “oldie-but-a-goodie” to me: 5 Card Flickr Roulette Story. (We accessed this activity through the new Make Bank portal.)

Essentially, you pick 5 photos–provided through Flickr–at random and try to compose a story from them. It’s a different way of looking at photography than in the first activity but, to me, it’s possibly the most important aspect of the art–creating story, narrative. Instilling meaning.

I took a more poetic route with my work.

-Oldie Poem:


Five Card Story: Lucid Dreaming

a Networked Narratives story created by helterskelliter


flickr photo by Dogtrax


flickr photo by cogdogblog


flickr photo by GMulligan


flickr photo by cogdogblog


flickr photo by Dogtrax

Hope in shades of oil-slick. Mother’s hands coming down to meet each other. To meet me.

A bell tolls. Soft, gentle, light creeps. The pulse reverberates. A chime. A toll. Light fades.

I am porcelain surrounded by sycamore.

Blood red stretched taut. Plastic wrap ripe to snap. Hues threadbare.

On the porch, a lamp burns low. Brighter for the dark.


-Newbie Poem:


Five Card Story: What A Mirror Does

a Five Card Flickr story created by helterskelliter


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by bionicteaching


flickr photo by whistlepunch


flickr photo by bionicteaching

Iron grates kissing concrete

and fences without teeth, flyers

at your feet scream,”hear

me!” and the clear skies

seem like graffiti

reflection. Mirroring

of being, half shuttered

half dreaming~


***Title for the 2nd work inspired by a line from Kendrick Lamar’s “XXX.

I explained it more in my response on Make Bank but I believe images are moments and poetry is the art we extract from moments. More, poetry is how we refine experience and distill it into its most essential, truthful, and deeply human parts. We are all made up of experiences, after all. Don’t want to go off an abstract tangent though~

Exercises like these provide opportunities for us to explore the intersection between different medias and mediums as well as provide opportunities to explore and expound upon our own creativity. In the process, we learn new ways to express ourselves and to convey meaning. More, these activities highlight how story is not exclusive to writing. It can be visual. It can be digital. And, it can still have impact.

That’s really important.

Not Finding Meaning

All this said, there was an interesting point raised in the Twitter chat around digital art and meaning. For many, digital art is an outlet like any other creative venture. It’s something they do to relax or to think or to spend quality time with the self. It is not seen an act with any particular purpose or meaning assigned to it, in that way.

There was some push-back to this idea–that digital art could be inherently meaningless.

But, to me, this makes sense??? Maybe it’s because I lean towards the existential side of nihilism, but I believe there is no intrinsic meaning in anything. We give things meaning. We make meaning. We decide meaning. The things that have meaning to me reflect decisions I have made about their value. Don’t want to go off on a nihilistic tangent either though~ Art isn’t an exception.

Anyway, while I strongly believe there can be meaning in digital art and that it can be a powerful tool to convey meaning, that doesn’t mean it has to mean anything. I mean, most Dada artists and some Surrealists rejected any attempt to impose meaning on their work and some of those works are still highly regarded today. The Futurists were totally opposed to art being anything other than embodiment of mechanical and industrial concepts. De Stijl artists (like Piet Mondrian with his infamous squares) were also interested in removing the, well, personal expression from art. (Mondrian’s compositions of squares do strinkigly resemble the clean lines of skyscrapers and of city infrastructure. #themoreyouknow~) Photography was originally used as just a cataloging tool.

The point is digital art shouldn’t have to have an inherent meaning either to be important. That’s a really high standard as well as an arbitrary one. Especially if meaning is what we make it and nothing more.

Preservation

An element to digital art that I always find interesting and that we touched upon a little in class tonight is that of preservation or conservation. With how quickly tech is advancing, how do we preserve the work created during such a transitional period? More, should we be blithely preserving all digital work or should we be more discerning? Also, should older works of digital art, such as some ELit pieces, be “updated” if they were made using now-obsolete means in order to preserve their original accessibility?

These kinds of questions fascinate me.

They arise in the traditional art world, as well. For example, Dieter Roth (sometimes called Dieter Rot) was an artist who worked in foodstuffs. He made sausages out of books (Literaturwurst) and other things in imitation of food before he began actually making paintings with yogurt and these famous busts out of chocolate. He even had an entire gallery exhibition that was just suitcases sitting in the gallery, filled with cheese. (It did not last long.)

Anyway, questions arise about preservation all the time with these kinds of works–is it going against the intent of the work and of the artist to preserve these pieces? A part of the art is that it was not made to last. It wouldn’t have been made out of food otherwise. Roth once said works of art, “should change like man himself, grow old and die.”

Many want to preserve art for posterity. It is a part of the human story and so it has value in that way. Some argue art is timeless as well and so should be preserved, for future experiences of it.

But, that’s what’s going on with the traditional side of art. What about the digital side?

This week in class, we explored The Wayback Machine which is an archive of the internet. It preserves moments in time, what pages or sites looked like, well, way back. Along with Vanessa and Hailey, I explored the history of etoy which seems to be a work of ELit that was established in the 90s and is based on a real legal situation the creators had that they re-imagined as a kind of war. To be honest, it seemed complicated and extremely meta. The current website seems to imply that etoy is a kind of commentary on current models of corporate structures??? The jobs page is a real delight to read–corporate jargon mixed with actual nonsense. Overall, it’s very devoted piece of ELit.

Anyway, again, it’s interesting to see how people are going about preserving digital art and work. I know there’s also the ELit Libraries which are curated collections of ELiterature pieces. And, there’s I ❤ EPoetry as well created by Leonardo Flores (@Leornardo_UPRM). These are just some of the ways people are trying to preserve digital art and work. After all, there are no museums for this stuff, right?

It’ll be interesting to see if that changes or to see what initiatives if any are put in place to preserve digital work. And, how that may affect access.

Final Cut

I guess I’m left wondering about art and accessibility.

Particularly, I’m concerned about the new digital element and how it affects the intersection of art and accessibility. Obviously, it complicates some things. But, ultimately, I feel it offers more opportunities than it does problems. I think old ideas of what art should be and about what stories are detract from everything else working in a digital medium provides creators and innovators. Questions about preservation are relevant but about whether or not digital art is art??? No. Get out of here. Sounds elitist and woefully uniformed.

And, that’s how I feel.

If you feel differently, I’m all kinds of interested in why~

****

Links

Daily Digital Alchemies

This week’s star~

Hypothes.is

Vanessa’s Post about etoy (one of the weirdest, meta ELit pieces either Hailey or I have come across~ Seriously, researching this project was a trip)

Goodies

*Stumbled across this article on the class site and I had to give my recommendation. It discusses some alternatives in the works to the internet. While these alternative options definitely appeal to my desire for privacy–which ties into safety, as this article made me realize–I found myself conflicted about what instituting some of these sites in practice would mean. It rose objections for me. More, it made me aware of what putting one of these alternative site that doesn’t store information centrally would mean. Highly recommend reading.

*An essay I wrote on nihilism and Neo-Dadaism in Jason Nelson’s This Is How You Will Die if you’re interested. Highly recommended checking out the actual piece, too.

*Speaking of poetry, a book I’ve been reading and would recommend is Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim. It explores depression and loss in a very human way. It’s quickly become a friend~

*One Dada manifesto in case you’re curious. (By Tzara, typically credited as a founder of Dada)

*A fun and interesting video that explores 2 different kinds of nihilism–existential and cosmic–through a philosophical exploration of 2 of my favourite animated shows: Rick & Morty and Bojack Horseman. Both fun and educational ^.^

*On Art: Meet my friend Drac~

(nickel sheet metal, nickel wire, silver solder, black acrylic, & black plastic thread)

*For those who don’t know, I make art out of metal as well as words. Drac is one of my latest projects and one of my biggest. I’m also no sure if he has any inherent meaning other than I like bats and the moon~ He is going to be in a student show coming up. Yay~

~Till Next Time~

 

Can You Hear M–Yeah, Loud & Clear~

The Name of the Game

So, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart from last week. It’s come to my attention that I may have been far too ambivalent about my feelings toward online data tracking. More, I believe I let the internet ideals I hold in high regard cloud my judgement of the realities that currently rule the digital landscape.

When confronted with the realities of third-party tracking servers and learning algorithms, it is almost impossible to believe how unconscionably and irresponsibly online sites and Big Business corporations are allowed to operate in the digital sphere.  It’s disturbing just how much information about me is not only readily accessible but profitable–big time. (I voiced some of my concerns in regards to Robert Heaton’s post on the ins-n-outs of online tracking here and here.) What concerns me most is the lack of privacy and the lack of consent. These sites are making stupid money selling my information to the highest bidder. As Zeynep Tufekci says in her TED Talk, we are not consumers in this financial equation. We are products. Hot products (emphasis mine).

And, I’m aware it is because of this current system of practice that the internet and most social media sites are freely available to the public but does that access offset the cost? Is the exchange from human to commodity, soluble as it may be, fair?

Hell no.

Power Plays

I credit my initial ambivalence toward online data tracking/mining to my prior perception that I wasn’t really sharing all that much personal information on the web. And, what I was sharing, was non-consequential at best. Who cares that I follow a poetry page on FB, a pro-legalization page, or that I retweet sappy quotes, right? lot of people.

Let’s take a look at that Twitter data and at just how easy it is to compile and create a profile of me from:

2018-01-23

For some reason (I’m sure someone has created an algorithm to figure out), I have a propensity for tweeting heavily on Thursdays around 6AM & Fridays around 1AM???

With an activity log like this one, corporations could time what ads would be most effective not just to the day but down to the minute. And, they would be able to find out what ads I as a consumer would be most receptive to through data like this:

2018-01-23 (1)

My outbursts @NJTRANSIT are not reflective of who I am as a person (unless you’re the CEO, then fight me IRL)

From this data set, anyone who wanted to could easily identify what news I follow through hashtag usage and what my relevant interests are through who I retweet as well as what my affiliations are outside of Twitter through what sites link back to me. All of this data can be compiled and associations can be made from it and cookies can follow up on its trends so that there is always an advertisement designed particularly with me in mind, no matter where my internet journeys take me.

The world wide web ain’t so much a democracy anymore, is it?

What’s almost more troubling than the idea that my digital self has zero to zilch autonomy or agency is that this same information can be used to affect the quality of my life outside of the internet. Institutions have invested heavily in this data and can use it to withhold certain services IRL. This is explained in episodes 2 & 3 of Do Not Track, a documentary series that explores online data tracking.

For instance, in episode 3, you are provided the option to connect your FB account to a risk assessment site (Illuminis) created, as you discover, by the creators of Do Not Track to illustrate how certain information could be collected digitally and could be used to affect your life and opportunities outside the internet.

The information it’s able to gather is mildly concerning, to say the least:

2018-01-26 (1)_LI

The first screen that pops up after connecting your account

Not only is Illuminis able to show what pages I liked on FB, it is able to establish a personality profile from those pages I like as well as from other info from my FB profile.

2018-01-26 (2)_LI

I dispute some of the conclusions drawn about my character~

Which is all fun and games until you see how this information is applied to real world situations. Because of something as simple as liking a post in support of decriminalizing cannabis or following a page that shares posts about traveling to exotic places or being female apparently, things so seemingly minuscule in the grand scheme of the internet, I could turn myself into a poor investment to some interested parties.

2018-01-26 (3)

Yahtzee! I was a “mediocre candidate” and a “risk” in both my financial and healthcare assessments. In fact, I was not a candidate at for healthcare because of my possibly propensity towards “high risk activity” as indicated by my social media profile~

This is problematic–especially when you see how many daily devices and platforms you use routinely make use of tracking software such as cookies:

And what is perhaps most troubling and most problematic about all of this is that there is very little you and I can do to improve this situation. Again, as Tufekci reiterates in her TED Talk, it is the system that has been put in place that needs to fundamentally change. More, it is the financial structures that govern that system that need changing and a reorganization of values. Unfortunately, those are not tasks that can be very well accomplished on an individual level.

At least, not unless the rules of play change.

Speaking Strategy

In our studio visit with Brett Gaylor, the director of Do Not Track, discussion revolved around what measures can be enacted to combat this online data tracking free-for-all pay to play suck it losers. More, we discussed how can anyone achieve any semblance of privacy in such a monitored environment and, while maintaining some kind of separation, be able to still participate in the digital sphere. Gaylor says, “Privacy is what allows us to be authentic people” after all. I would further argue that privacy and anonymity allow for activism and advocacy as well and when using a platform that has the capacity and capability to spread awareness that can facilitate necessary action, it is more than important certain protections be in place.

What our discussion ultimately seemed to come down to is consent.

Most tracking services and cookies rely heavily on implicit consent rather than an explicitly provided one, especially in North America. In episode 2 of Do Not Track(?), it is shown that European countries require websites disclose to users whether or not cookies are being used to track data. Even though the only option to being given that info is “OK” or leave the site at least it’s an attempt to inform consumers. That’s more than we can say here. 

It may be a small gesture but there is something powerful about returning responsibility, agency, and accountability, no matter the amount, to the entities that shouldn’t have had it stolen from them in the first place. It’s representative of freedom–that of choice and of digital self-determination, choosing who can use our data and for what purpose. More, the gesture is informing. While many people may be aware that they are being monitored through their devices and their social media, the extent to which is probably less clear. (As evidenced by my own beliefs and those of my classmates here. There seems to be a distinct disconnect between our perception of the surveillance and its reality, something Tiff(?) I believe touches upon. Also, questions about the “necessary evil” of tracking arise as well by Hailey–I mean, disconnecting from the internet now essentially means disconnecting from the world; becoming less relevant and less informed. To leave or not to leave is not an easy problem to resolve.)

For me, what it really comes down to though is finding a way to restructure the system to value the ethical more than the financial. Tufekci ends her TED Talk saying, “We need a digital economy where our data and our attention is not for sale to the highest bidding authoritarian or demagogue.” Side note: She kicks ass and I love her.

This shift has to be non-negotiable, though. There has to be not just regulation of but enforcement of ethical internet practices in some way. To me, this means there must be an incentive–the easiest kind of enforcement but also the most expensive $$$$.

As stated in Gaylor’s Do Not Track, most of these sites make their prime revenue from ads and the amount many of us would be willing to pay out of pocket to use these services per month pales in comparison to what these sites can make through selling our data. With the state of net neutrality itself, I’m honestly not sure how easy it would be to accomplish some kind of endowment or fund for the internet to sway platforms using it away from the allure of data tracking~ There’s a political side to all of this as well, of course.

I’m not proposing a step-by-step plan here for how to go about fixing the internet but I think there are conditions that must be met or else the internet will continue to remain a lose-lose situation for consumer privacy.

Keeping the Game Going

When it comes to data tracking, that latter half–tracking–seems to steal most of the glory. But that data part is, arguably, the most important component here. Without the data, there’s nothing to track after all. And how are these sites accumulating data, you may ask? By keeping us on their sites for as long as possible, of course. And how do they do that? By providing lots of shiny buttons to click and sensational videos to watch and hot music to listen to, of course. And how do they choose those things? By analyzing consumer data, of course. Tracking trends. Tracking us. Full circle, huh?

That said, I disagree almost philosophically with articles that forward this idea that the increasing use of technology is making us stupider as a whole. Quite frankly I find the notion insulting, uninformed, and usually ageist. It has been my experience that most articles of this nature are pushing their own narrative or agenda without adequately considering the many beneficial applications of the technology and weighing them against the cons. They want to focus on the very worst aspects of social media and apply those findings to all new digital media.

And, of course, they blame the consumers wholeheartedly.

There isn’t one mention of the corporate entities or the learning algorithms that are largely responsible if not entirely so for how these social media sites are designed. In my humble opinion, the lack of ethical or conscientious advertising paired with the unregulated data tracking is far more egregious and should be of far more concern to our society than whether or not some people prefer technological amusements to someone’s IRL company. More, it reveals a distinct bias and a pronounced agenda that I have simply no interest in entertaining. (If you want to hear me get super salty about it, I highly suggest you check out this thread~)

An aspect of this problem I am interested in entertaining relates back to the issue of privacy online and how that affects authentic expression overall. I wonder to what extent all of this monitoring, this surveillance, has affected our behavior IRL. The recent uptick in content being posted to social media platforms that I believe wouldn’t have been uploaded a decade ago (i.e. the Logan Paul Suicide Forest video to Youtibe, or the brutal fights shared via FB live, that livestream posted to Instagram of a woman getting into a car accident and killing her sister, etc.) leads me to believe that we may all be becoming more performative–because we believe we are always being watched. In that sense, everything about ourselves becomes content for public consumption. We are products. It’s all some reality show. A performance art piece–neo-Dadaist style.

Removing privacy as a valuable concept from the social consciousness is a pretty good way to eliminate the issue of privacy from the data tracking discussion entirely again, in my humble opinion~.

It makes me wonder about authenticity. If privacy is what allows us to be authentic people, as Gaylor said, what is authentic expression in a world without a concept of privacy? How does living without a sense of a private self affect your self image? Because digital selves are so public, does that mean that they can never be private? Never be authentic?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

End Game…Plot Twist???

Ultimately, the issue of online data tracking leaves me dissatisfied–a little abjectly horrified too, tbh. (I’m not sure if that’s much better or far worse than feeling conflicted.)

I fundamentally disagree with it and have serious reservations with the system’s current business practices and ethics but I also understand that the internet can’t very well run without the current infrastructure. I mean, it’s entirely doable just not practical at this moment in time. I wish there was more transparency, though, and accountability. Right now, the onus is on consumers who are really commodities and so don’t even have the power that would be afforded to them if they were consumers. Simply, we’re not properly informed about what’s going on behind our screens and so we can’t consent.

It’s like we’re playing a game that’s been designed to beat us.

We’re being exploited for all we’re worth and most of us are gladly participating in our own exploitation.

Which is unfortunate because the internet really has the capacity to be this place where communities of individuals can gather and create, innovate, better themselves and the world at large. Just look at our little community here:

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Can you find yourself? Do we connect? If not, why not???? Drop a line and say, “Hey” ^.^

It’s hard to entirely dismiss the internet when it’s responsible for the creation of something like this. It’s the current system that has made our community possible. At the same time, the very system and algorithms that make our community possible are responsible for the creation of a lot of really toxic and problematic digital communities, ones that perpetuate falsehoods and often dangerous narratives and that profit off of it. Again, there’s not just an issue of consent but of oversight, culpability, and many other serious problems that have, unfortunately, in many instances, been politicized. This is another aspect of internet use I would categorize as of greater importance than whether or not we’re addicted to social media. (Though, I’ll grant this ties into whether or not the internet is making us stupider. More uniformed, really.) Its difficult to reconcile all of these many sides of the internet. Seems easier to let yourself get lost in the stream.

I’m not sure where any of this leaves us other than in need of a drink but I’d love to hear your thoughts~

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Links

My fave DDA from the week~ I want you to know I’m aesthetically opposed to embedding tweets, though >.> much prefer linking but whatev, I’ll play by the “rules” for now~

Daily Digital Alchemies

Twit 1 & Twit 2

Hypothes.is

A Pesky Faerie (wonder where following her takes you….)

Goodies

*I’ve recommended this video a couple of times throughout my #netnarr travels but I think, especially in light of both our current class discussions and the current state of political affairs in our country, it is incredibly relevant. It’s from an educational channel and it’s all about how to navigate this post-truth error where such things as “alternative facts” exist. More, it’s an exploration of the relationship between social media, consumerism, and factual truth. Highly recommend checking it out~

*A documentary that I’ve watched recently and would recommend is Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. It’s different from Do Not Track but it is still interested in bringing an underlying truth to the surface. (Plus, it’s an Oscar nominee. (Double plus, it’s free if you have Amazon Prime))~

*We can record ourselves live movies through our dna…? Check it out~ (Plus, I thought I was clever so everyone has to know)

*This week’s musical artist of choice I listened to while hitting the grind was blackbear, if you want to check him out~

Till next time~

What Kind of Story Am I?

A #FakeNews one??? jk~ A best-seller I hope >.>

Cutting Through the Silence

For this week’s DDA, I imagined my navigation of my internet space as a bright, white line cutting through a chaotic and haphazard ball of scribbly static. It’s kind of like a radio signal–lost in the haze until the right frequency tunes in. Then, my movements have resonance, they create this larger picture. Tell a story. Reveal a larger truth. Reveal me.

But, what if those tuning in don’t care so much to hear you as they do to extract information about you and exploit it? (That took a dark turn, huh?)

Compare, Contrast, & Conflict

Do Not Track, a mini-documentary series/interactive digital project directed by Brett Gaylor, discusses the very real ways our internet meandering is not only tracked but compiled and used for economic gains–not our own, of course. I’m only one episode in so far but the tone is clearly different from that of a work like the Network Effect which is another interactive digital work that allows users to, I would argue, see just how much personal information is not only out there in the interweb miasma but also easily accessible to anyone and everyone. That isn’t to say the Network Effect is trying to do anything nefarious–in fact, it seems their purpose is rather the opposite–but Do Not Track is clearly trying to make a different point about the internet’s ability to not only observe our actions but collect and compile them to use for purposes we as users of digital spaces are not always aware of or able to control.

To be honest though, I found the contrast between the purposes of the two projects to be most interesting. Perhaps it is because I am a child of the digital age and can only remember a small window of time living without tech being an integral part of how I interact with the world, but the idea that I’m constantly being watched and tracked through my devices is not shocking nor does it make me afraid. If it were all more Orwellian in nature, then maybe. As it stands, I think Big Brother has a more invested interest in selling me out to Big Business for bigger bottom lines all around than it has a desire in anything more sinister. Yet, at least. Greed, especially of the corporate kind, disgusts me, but, again, it’s expected. Would I prefer not to see Amazon adds of things I was just perusing popping up on my social media feeds? Yes. Would I prefer Google not storing a story of me in their vaults? Yes. It’s disconcerting at least and paranoia-inducing at worst. It makes me wonder how else I’m being exploited without my consent. It makes me want to rip the power cells out of all my devices and sign off for good.

But, I can’t.

Again, this is the digital age. If you live in modern society with most of the rest of the world, you simply can’t disconnect. You wouldn’t be able to function in the world. Maybe I’m not so much anesthetized to being surveilled by microwaves even! as I am resigned to its being an inevitability of digital life. It’s the trade-off. (That continual debate of safety vs. freedom.)

That isn’t to say that some of this collective information or story can’t be used for good. The Network Effect is a primary example of how the internet’s ability to track people and their actions can be used to unify instead of to divide. I think now more than ever we all need to be reminded that, yes, while we may be unique individuals with unique stories, we also share a vast array of similar experiences that connect us. That can.

In a post I made a year ago on my first experience of the Network Effect, I focused on the action GRIEVE and on how the amount of people tweeting about grieving tended to pique at 7am & later at 7pm.

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There’s something grounding and uniquely human about the timing. Or maybe it’s just the confirmation that we all experience loss and have so few words to capture it the 140 character rule never seems to be a problem~

First, this statistic made me wonder why. Because grief is most poignant upon first waking and then at dinner, a time typically spent with family or friends? Because first waking is the first moment a loss is remembered again? Because sitting at a table with an empty chair that wasn’t always empty is so unbearable it makes you want to scream into the void? Don’t I know it. None of the above? All this wondering (an act which I believe has merit inherent unto itself) led me to my second realization which is this: there are individuals that make up every bit of this data I’m viewing. More, this data isn’t just a static chart on a page. It’s video and tweets in live time. It isn’t just percentages–it’s story. It’s lives. Big Brother and Big Business may forget that but when it’s presented in such a way as it is through the Network Effect, I think that reality is undeniable and that is what makes this project powerful.

What’s Louder? Our Stories or Our Silence?

Ultimately, I feel conflicted about internet tracking/surveillance. While I agree with Do Not Track’s position that undisclosed or unwarranted tracking “dis-empowers” me and robs me of agency in that it makes choices for me about what content I’ll see on my internet journeys, I also believe or want to believe that there can be a benefit to having a digital collective or archive of the human experience like the Network Effect.

Not everyone who is tuning in to us is doing it with good intentions but I believe it is important and it is progress that we have a platform where we can all tune into each other.

“The people’s chant must be everything the people can’t be~”–I think the internet does a spectacular job of showing us all where we are as a people and how far we still have to go. It gives us a starting place, at the very least. It can. In recent years, yes, the internet and its many platforms have become weaponized and increasingly capitalized upon, creating horrible echo chambers in too many cases, but I think it’s important to remember all the possibility still inherent to the idea (think the Arab Spring or the Women’s Marches or the #MeToo movement which were all conceived of in internet spaces and then actualized). Allowing our stories to be digital can create stories that can exist beyond digital boundaries. And, to me, everything is story. It can be. In the digital age especially, there are so many opportunities to tell stories. We may not always be able to control who is listening to them or how they are received but I don’t think that should silence us. Should stop us from tuning in to each other. From trying to cut through the chaos and static.

Do you?

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Best-seller or what??? ^.^ Hope you enjoyed~

Links

*My Daily Digital Alchemies

*My Hypothes.is

*Twit 1 & Twit 2 (I meant to use only one this time around but I’ve already mixed it up Silly so here’s both~)

Goodies

*If you’re interested in short stories based off of Twitter bot nonsense, I recommend checking out my Killing It tag. I’m toying with the idea of reviving it~

*I posted this vid by Al Jazeera in the #netnarr tag about media literacy in the wake of fake news’ popularity on Twitter and then it was retweeted with the #netnarrlinks tag (for anyone who also wants to share cool content on Twitter).

*For anyone who was disappointed by season 4 of Black Mirror, I highly recommend checking out Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. It’s an Amazon original series based off of works by Philip K. Dick (the title of the show is a play on the title of one of his more famous works Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is a classical dystopian I actually enjoy ^.^). and it’s free if you have prime. Like Black Mirror, it’s an anthology series that bridges sci-fi and the psychological through explorations of the intersection of life and tech.

*See The Post if you haven’t already! It is phenomenal and relevant to current events >.>

***I didn’t think about it till after but the Soundcloud link I shared to a Chance the Rapper song is oddly appropriate in that Chance is an artist without a label who rose to popularity and eventually mainstream prominence through the internet and digital media. People shared and promoted his music online and through apps like Spotify. Would definitely recommend checking him out if you’re looking for some good music. He’s more poet than rapper to me in some ways.

And that’s a rap.

Till next time~

***Edit: I’m Kelli btw~ Sometimes I’m a Faerie Girl wannabe and sometimes a Shadow Girl but I’m always an interested learner and digital alchemist in the making. (Labels are only fun to try on for a bit) Anyway, oft I get carried away and lost in the writing, forgetting even myself…. please don’t mind that and don’t be strangers~ (though I admit I can be a bit more shy than my writing might suggest)***

Farewell Faerie Girl (wannabe ^.^)….

Qfybmu-Egpj-uyllyzc,

I think you’re very right about the Other Side being like my shadows–not as empty as I may like to or be convinced to believe. There is something remarkable about the world you call “home.” Something that is something about the place you eyeless-eyes have grown to admire, your story-skin has grown to find comfort within. It’s something I think we all here in the Other Something world should like to appreciate more than we do.

For myself, I found becoming a part of your world, Faerie Girl, to be somewhat of a struggle but also, somehow, effortless? There is something very freeing about donning a story-skin and continuing the word-weaving from it. On the Other Side, there is this ability to extend one’s self and one’s reach far beyond what is usually/feasibly capable this side. And, because I’m wearing a story-skin, it’s less to scary to perform that extension. Because, despite what additional connection is fostered via the Other Side’s “magic”, I am still difficult to touch. You may feel me in writing but you cannot grasp me, not wholly. Which may be viewed as a blessing or a curse depending on who you talk to, methinks 😉

That said, I do feel like I was able to connect with many different people and voices through playing pretend? with you, Faerie Girl, and others from the Other Side. Before even journeying to your realm, I felt like I was forging new connections. Like, in my now infamous? story-off with @dogtrax. We weren’t just word-weaving. No, our little powwow, knitting circle was something else. There was more creation and creativity going on than what word-links were appearing in this chain. At least, it felt like more. Like something powerful. Magickal. In the Something world, it’s not always so easy to foster this kind of reciprocity. Ego can get in the way or timing or environment or any number of things the Other Side can oft level out or, to some extent, alleviate. This moment of collaboration and of sincere reciprocity is one of my fondest memories and one I am most proud of. I felt a part of something bigger than myself but also like an integral part of that something. I was both tapping into something and being the thing that was tapped into (keep the thoughts clean, folks~ kids read these ^.^).

Aside from that, Faerie Girl, I’m also quite proud of the stories I wove these past few months from the nonsense words of bots. They weren’t necessary but they allowed me to interact with the Other Side in a way that was comfortably familiar but also new and unexpected. Really, these stories were a segue into the Other World for me. Despite having taken a “crash-course”, so to speak, in Elit last semester, I was till unsure about how to conduct myself in an online, collaborative space. Still very self-conscious about how I would be perceived. And, more, I was certainly afraid I wasn’t “up-to-par” with the outside participants who would be taking part in this adventure with us. But, finding this small way to insert myself into the community, to offer something of myself so that others could get to know me and where I come from, made me, overall, feel more comfortable participating in the more interactive aspects of the Other Side’s way. If any of that at all makes sense. I just felt more comfortable existing in this community once I had a more fleshed out identity.

That, I think, comes back to something that was recently discussed irl–the dissonance many writers experience when it comes to what they write versus how it sounds. I didn’t think I sounded authentic till I had more writing to show for who I am. Till I had this piece of e online for others to get a sense of and feel. It’s an evolution of that mindful fear of dissonance, I think–not believing you can possibly sound authentic enough in an online space without incorporating some tokens of authenticity from the Something world. Again, I don’t know if any of this makes sense but, I hope at least some small part of it does in some way. When working in a digital space, you are putting yourself out there in front of a whole lot of people–more people than you ever do in a Something classroom and certainly before more strangers. You’ve got to find some sense of confidence or nerve or you’re not going to be able to write anything at all in this kind of a setting–in my opinion.

Anyway, Faerie Girl, sorry to go off that self-centered tangent. I’m sure you’ve had  enough of me, by now ^.^ I know I have. Though, I’d like to think future explorers will be able to explore themselves as much they will the Other Side. Will learn just as much about the magic within as they will the magic of collaboration. To do that, I think future alchemists have to, first, find a way to incorporate what already interests them into a digital medium. Like, I brought my love of telling twisted tales and weaving disturbing words into disconcerting harmony almost immediately over into the Other Side. I found a way to use it to engage with the proposed assignments explorations. From the beginning of a Something class like this, I think it’s crucial to emphasize the place of the self in the work. Online spaces can be great places to forge an identity but they can also be very daunting places to do that very thing as well. For future alchemists to make meaningful explorations into the Other Side, I think a foundation of the self must first be laid in some way. Once again, if that makes sense.

….Look at that, another self-centered bum-bumbling ramble. You may have me pegged after all, Faerie Girl. It’s almost like you’re inside my head or something….

Before I get lost in my head again, let’s wrap this up! I’m sure you’ve got fancy places to be, fancy folk to unsee and all that jazz, Faerie Girl. I don’t want to keep you 😉

Honestly, though, exploring the Other Side and getting to know the alchemists who call it home has been, all joke aside, magickal and unforgettable…..Well, some of the more, shall we say stressful weeks may be more blocked out than others. But, that’s neither here nor there. Back to the point. Focus, Shadow Girl! Hopefully, I am able to keep in touch in some way with some of the amazingly and immensely talented and driven folk I’ve met on my journeys thus far. It would be meaningful, too, I think, and it would do justice to all I’ve learned navigating this new world if I tried to make something out of the unexpectedness and the reciprocity I was able to experience. I don’t know what but I want it to manifest in some way on the outside. And, maybe that’s enough–wanting to create something so much more than myself but so necessary to me. Putting that energy out there, I mean, is enough, is something. Despite the Something world being, well, the Something World, there seems to be a shortage of this desire for the reciprocal, for collaboration and appreciation. The Something World has become, if you can believe it, even more self-centered than myself! More focused on and less on what can do for other people. So, I believe just being able to emit a more positive energy through my endeavors and my demeanor would have a minor but meaningful impact. It would alter my perspective, at the very least.

And, on that note, I end this ram-rambling on.  I really am long-winded, though, huh? How have you put up with it, Faerie Girl? 

Anyway, Faerie Girl, try not to be a stranger either. You, by far, are one of my fave folk to collab with ^.^ It’s like we’re just on the same wavelength, same page or something. Truth be told, it’s a little crazy.  That said, I think it’s been real.

Till next time, Faerie Girl ❤

Shadow Girl signing off~

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Daily Digital Alchemies

Life in the Margins

Look at how big my mouth is!

….and how pesky this Faerie Girl has been!

You Kant Make Me Argue Ethics…

Do you have to make it entirely clear when an account is a bot?

Is it misleading, or, more, deceptive to keep that information not secret, per say, but not readily available either? Like, what are the moral obligations of bot-creators? Are there any? Is there a kind of digital, moral imperative? Or, more simply, rules of conduct in online spaces that are true all of the time? (Or else how can they be moral imperatives?)

These concerns and questions arose not while I was in the process of setting up a bot but, after I had created the bot and realized that I didn’t necessarily want to allocate a space on my account to revealing the “trick.” Honestly, I felt and still feel doing so steals some of the magic. (Kind of like over-tagging in fanfic. Stating an account is a bot–announcing it’s run on a systematic queue as opposed to a flesh and blood person amounts to the same a as adding so many tags to a fic that it becomes undeniable that it isn’t canon. And, I think some of the joy of fanfic is that it toes the line of reality in the same kind of way that bots can. Anyway, that was a long deviation. Back to the matter at hand!)

Is non-disclosure in this context wrong?

To complicate matters, I came across this thread of discussion between one pesky faerie and a circle-talking prophet. In it, a question about whether or not one can be at fault for another’s faith is posed. Simply, how responsible is one for another’s willingness to be deceived? If all the info/evidence, aside from an outright admission/confession, is freely available for one to interpret and draw logical–you’d hope–conclusions from, is my fault they decide one plausibility is more credible than another? Trumps another?

For example, if you walk into a grocery store, see all the bar-codes on products, the numbers following little $ symbols on shelves, then notice the registers at the front of the establishment with scanners–scanning as you watch the items of other guests to the establishment and ringing up, again, numbers beside $ symbols which prompt the guests to exchange currency in some form–and you still attempt to/decide to grab an apple pie and mosey on out of that store without swinging by the registers like everyone else, the resulting consequences are kind of on you. I know many grocery stores and other retail establishments will have signs that say things like, Pay Here, but I don’t think they have ones that explicitly say: You must purchase goods from this store via monetary means (i.e cash or card) before you can leave or else you will be arrested Sure, there also signs that probably say, “Shoplifters will be prosecuted” but, again, those kinds of signs are asking you to infer something–that you must buy before you can take–and are not explicitly stating the “rules” of the transaction. Just the consequences that will proceed it if it is not carried out properly.

A good counter-argument to the one just posed would, of course, be that the “etiquette” or “conduct” is imposed by greater sociocultural norms, which are implicit and so don’t always need enforcement through direct statement. By merit of being a social space, a grocery store has rules of practice anyone in the culture in which this grocery store exists will know or, at least, be familiar enough with to understand. So, I guess, my question is whether or not the internet culture of right now is at a place that allows members of it to properly recognize and interpret the signs that would signal whether or not a bot is a bot without an explicit warning/disclaimer?

….To be honest, my gut feeling is no. Non. Nada. 아니오.  Nílim. Really, no.

If the widespread acceptance of “fake news” is any indication of the internet society’s ability to interpret info–gauge its credibility–and make informed decisions, then I don’t believe any symbols/signals in online spaces ubiquitous and made intuit enough yet for bots to go unannounced.  That said, I still don’t want it be necessary that I reveal my bot in so many words. Personally, I just don’t feel like that is one of my responsibilities. But, does that make me part of a greater problem–the proliferation of falsehoods masquerading freely as not in digital spaces? Even if it seems like such a minor offense?

I believe this issue is a significant one when it comes to discussing netprov as a whole. In the Studio Visit with Mark Marino and Rob Wittig, both netprov creators touched upon this concern and said they came to the conclusion that “deception” is all well and good until someone gets “hurt”–their feelings or otherwise. Like, it’s “good fun”. A magic trick. Especially when there is a big reveal at the end. Of course, that presupposes an amicable end where everyone will feel inclined to come together for discussion…. but, whatev.

Anyway, I guess that’s where I my thoughts on this whole thing keep returning–to the idea that, so long as my deception, my magic trick, is not causing anyone undue* harm or offense, why is it wrong? Because lying is inherently wrong? All the time? There’s never an acceptable or appropriate reason to keep something hidden? You must be a delight when it comes to surprise parties, huh?

I’ll admit, though, I’m not sure where this leaves the issue of “fake news.” And, it’s my understanding that there are now courses being offered to study just that–the issue of it and, also, how it is even created. So, there are no simple solutions or short answers or, really, answers. All I can say, I think, is that the internet culture/society needs to integrate more of a desire for truth and for critical consumption of info into its practices. Finding something that agrees with one’s views of the world is “great” but, like, what are that something’s sources? And, do those sources have agendas of their own? What do they gain by attaining your belief? And, more, internet culture needs to shift away from aggression as a universal response–violently reacting to anyone or any group which dares to share a view that isn’t compatible with another’s. In many cases, I agree that anger is a justifiable feeling towards an idea being forwarded but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind your reaction. Anger seldom provokes meaningful discussion these days so much as it does a nasty argument. Then again, I’m speaking from a particular context of my own–which I can never fully exist outside of–so, maybe, these suggestions are “fine and good” but not useful in alleviating another’s struggles or solving their particular problems.

So, because I don’t want this post to turn into a venting/ranting one and I don’t feel like delving into ethics because, again, no. Nope. Nah–

//giphy.com/embed/Ozf9DBfaBGT8Q

via GIPHY

This is where Shadow Girl will take her leave and sign out. She’s got pesky faeries and persnickety prophets to eavesdrop on, after all. Much too much on her plate… ^.^

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*according to how I define the word and how you do too~

 

Shadow Girl Reflects VII: Or Does She?

This week, shadow has been severed–cleaved in two. Something and Other. Which is which?

From near to far reaches it seems one has become many, has, at least, realized there is more than meets the eye. Another side. Someplace beyond but surround as well.

Contact has been made–by the Other’s denizens. Letters in invisible ink, thrums from an invisible (?) world, and nonsense ramblings have appeared from the miasma. Are they greetings? Warnings? Will time reveal which or run out first?

In order to discover some answers of my own, I have been following some pesky fey–aos sí the great secret society of old. One pesky faerie in particular‘s writing on the wall seems to be, for all its darkness and double-speak, rather illuminating. Exactly of what will require further study. Delving deeper into the shadows.

Perhaps there are no answers, though. No rhymes or reasons–not yet. Perhaps even these creatures who have hazarded crossing the screen separating Other from Something know not yet whyPerhaps that’s not important.

Maybe it’s not what these creatures may what to teach us that matters. Not most. What we learn from them, what we see reflected back, may be a slant rhyme but the closest thing to one we’re going to get.

My faerie, for now, is making full use of that sewn-shut mouth of hers. Guess the telling will come after the taunting ends…

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So, looking forward, I hope to be able to set up a bot sometime this long weekend. Just had no time to get to it this week–was tied up in both metals & drawing ventures ^.^ I follow the flow of my creativity and those areas are where it wanted to go this week~

Still, I’m planning to do some tinkering of my own, whether the current wants to go that way or not. Look forward to that!

Hopefully, too, another story will make its way up onto the ol’ blog by tomorrow(?). Maybe. A pesky faerie seems to have commandeered their own chunk of my creativity….

Anyway, that’s how I’m faring so far. Head above water but bobbing below every so oft. Hopefully I’ll come across my second wind…or some floaties. Either or. Whichever comes first ^.^

Shadow Girl signing off till next time~

Daily Digital Alchemies

Shadow Girl Reflects VI: Sharing

“World building” is somehow a difficult concept to attribute to the world–proper, so to speak. Actually, it’s kind of a hard term to think of the world in/with because the world is built, isn’t it? All around us, there are these constructed and contrived places. Infrastructure and institutions. Spaces with such seemingly benign, or, should I say, obvious stories that even considering them as storied spaces at all is bizarre. Like, I know why the library is in the center of main campus–access and availability. And, a library is a resource center, one that provides books for your needs/interests so long as you have a card with the institution. It’s all very prescribed. Background noise at this point. Facts my brain doesn’t need time with to process and sort.

And, yet…

There is a world that exists behind or beyond that kind of dictated, socio-culturally enforced, shallow surface. When I think of the library, utilitarian purposes don’t exclusively come to mind. The books I’ve checked out do. The conversations I had with the librarians do. The friendship I formed with one of the librarians does. Even, all my anxiety about tripping down the library’s totally trippable steps comes to mind when I think of the library! (Don’t judge. I’m afraid of all heights equally and I’ve seen more than a couple of people miss those tricky steps~)

Anyway, it still sounds weird to think of my own personal experiences with an environment or place as being “world building” but, I guess they are. I mean, it’s how I see my world–through my interactions with it. Those interactions inform how I navigate and how I structure my life. If I had a poor experience at a certain restaurant, I probably won’t go back there, regardless of how hungry I may be and my proximity (i.e ease of access) to it. Through a utilitarian lens, when hungry, I should go to the nearest place that provides food. But, that’s just not the reality of the world. Not the one I live in, at least. I’m not eating someplace where I don’t like the service. End of story.

I’m not sure if there’s a means of communicating all the stories a space can accumulate in a way that isn’t overwhelming or too selective, still. Like I said earlier, my brain can process a place’s utilitarian, dictated purposes like second nature. Increasing the amount of info (i.e stories) it would need to process in a short amount of time may become more of an interference in how I’m informed about a space instead of an improvement. Maybe. Our brains are capable of processing such an abundance of info though–but it takes time to do it well. And, I think when it comes to attaching a multitude of associations to a place, time becomes a reasonable concern. Over-stimulation, a major concern. Plus, how much does every person who walks through/uses the library need to know about my fear of falling down the stairs? What would that meaningfully add to their concept of the space? Would they walk a little slower down the steps? Again, maybe. If they cared. Which is another thing.

I may know the technical purpose of a space and know the intended use of a space, but that doesn’t mean I care. For another example, the Quick Check’s (local convenience store) back lot by my high school may have been intended for parking–and it was used for parking–but everyone also knew it was a great place to skateboard after the skate park closed. And, to be honest, that function superseded the original because it was the only one most anyone cared about. The police would come by and round you up every now and again but that didn’t deter anyone. So, that was my roundabout way of explaining that there is a level of care that goes into the conceiving of a place. It’s the functions that everyone cares about that become a place’s associations, become what it is renowned for. Applying this idea to storied spaces, to me, means that people will still only care about a select few stories themselves because there’s nothing stopping them from doing that. Attempting to give a place a greater depth of meaning through attributing more stories to it, while admirable and overall nice, doesn’t ensure any intentions will stick. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer :/

Still, I think there’s some merit to using digital means or digital storytelling to help inform people about how to conceive of a place, how to build it. At the very least, it can provide a place for a record of another place’s experiences. Like, a lot of museums have apps now that allow you to explore the entire museum via your phone. Some even have cool activities you can do whilst meandering through the galleries. Essentially, those who do care about what lies below the surface of a space can dive in. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable for other spaces like universities to have apps specifically for cataloging the experiences of their students in order to possibly enrich experience of the entire space overall. For any place, really, I don’t think that’s unreasonable or, too far off from reality. Not with the way technology is developing.

(Let me know if any apps already exist that are attempting to do what I just spent for-freakin’- ever describing!)

Sharing Stories

Apparently, I was in a sharing mood this week. Adding a dash of “feelings” to both this week’s blog post and to the Padlet. Just couldn’t help myself.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the purpose (or, intended purpose, should I say) or, really, the person, behind the writing on this blog, I’d check out this week’s post. Also, if you want to hear me curse at Audacity. And, read a story in my own voice….

(Speaking of, the items I used to make the sound effects are, in order, sticks of vine charcoal for the tinkling sound in the beginning, 2 faux-skulls banged together for the steady beat + mortar & pestle, a stick of vine charcoal snapped in half for snapping bird bones, and a handful of tortilla chips I crushed for the crunching bone sound. Kind of difficult guesses. Sorry~ but not really)

Creative Enterprise (i.e that section you can skip if you don’t care~ I’ll only cry myself to sleep a little bit)

This week saw a grand total of….*drum beat* bot story written.

Skin Girl

This is largely due to the fact that I have a new-found addiction to My Favorite Murder. That podcast I mentioned in my blog post this week. It’s ruining my life (i.e productivity) and I love it. Highly recommend.

Anyway, before I became a raging addict, I did manage to finish a jewelry-making project–a necklace that I’m still describing as “blood-splatter wings” because I haven’t picked a name yet…. Like I said, this has been a poor past few days for getting sh*t done.

Also, I’ve managed to acquire some bones (chicken, relax, and ethically gathered) for my project I’m working on now. Have a new friend who dabbles in taxidermy. Score. So, definitely check back to see how that turns out.

Hopefully, the creativity will pick back up. I’m like half-way through the podcast’s archive so I’m on my way to getting it out of my system. Or, you know, maybe I’ll accept moderation into my heart….

Final Thoughts

I like the idea of storied spaces catching on. Would make the world feel “homier”, I think. Less indoctrinated and more lived in.

Actually, it would be cool, I think, to create a kind of storied space with my writing an art. Like a show or an exhibit that sought to join the two mediums together via a personal interjection of some sort. Maybe that could be accessed in a digital format. I’d like to find some way to get people to hear me reading my stories too–so, that could also be an element to this concept. Think that would be pretty cool and be a way to “story a space” because everyone would have their own interactions and experiences with the exhibit to add to the ones that are already installations of it. It’s something to think about anyway.

Shadow Girl signing off~

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