April 24th, 2007
what is on my wall today
found this quote in the library yesterday in a book about conceptual artists with a buddhist perspective. in it I read about artist Lee Ming Wei, whose work is based on issues of trust and the ‘art of living’, (art about daily life). this thread that runs through my own process these days. (if i told you about some of his work you would not believe me, so go read about it for yourself. okay, i’ll give you a hint, he is pregnant! yes, it’s true. read about it here.)
i have been conducting a little experiment of my own, though not nearly as daring. it involves designating large periods of non-computer time and documenting them in my journal. the results after two weeks with a couple of days off during each are rather startling. i hesitate to share them here with the knowledge that some of you may not like hearing them, as i am critiquing the very medium in which you are currently partaking, and quite possibly enjoying. the truth is, i enjoy it too, immensely. but lately i have started to see ways that it is taking from me more that it is giving, and this belief has been echoed by several web friends who have found it necessary to take an extended break from not just blogging but the internet.
the main issue, a common thread between many of us, is a disconnection with life in the real world. symptoms:
-diminished contact with friends and family (speaking in person or on the phone with them has dwindled or is non existent, social life greatly limited over time) this one seems to directly co-relate to an increase in ‘web friends’. while these relationships are also great, they are not the same as speaking on the phone or having lunch in a public place.
-diminished participation in/with nature
-zoned out feeling (disconnectedness)
-large portions of time in each day unaccounted for (productivity greatly affected in all areas of life, house cleaning, creativity, work, etc.)
Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire talks about the limitation of the machine, he is referring to any number of mechanical gadgets, and says that they tend to separate a human from their environment. while trying to write one evening he describes using a generator to produce light,
“I have cut myself off completely from the greater world which surrounds the man made shell. The desert and the night are pushed back–I can no longer participate in the them or observe; I have exchanged a great and unbounded world for a small comparatively meager one.”
If I am to be honest here, (which is always my goal), i will admit that this is what often results in using the computer, this cutting myself off from the world. How ironic that the premise of the medium is a network that connects us to other humans. but there is little to do with nature and the earth here, this is just one small aspect of the human species, (and not available to all).
before you get your back up over this (as I’m sure some of you will), i should explain that i am only seeking some kind of balance with it for myself. a return to moderation (as when I started). this weekend I went to a garden center and spent much of my time planting and covered in dirt. It felt so good to be outside again in the sun. I sit surrounded by pots of daisies, geraniums, lobeilia, basil and rosemary. my house is cleaner, i am reading more, and i feel more at peace than i have been for months. (the first hours are marred by a tense feeling, of needing to go do work, the urge to check email. after several hours this starts to fade and over the course of the day i feel myself becoming more present in the world.)
by the end of the weekend, going back to the computer feels uncomfortable. today i wish to pack a bag and wander aimlessly about. i have been watching the films of charles & rae eames again and feel the urge to try my hand at a film. nothing fancy, just documenting things in my environment.
in the words of duchamp, today “I am a lazy artist.”
and it’s the best thing in the world.