Responding to Aram Bartholl’s blogpost. Read that one first.
As our innovations in technology & communication accelerate they get further out in front of our need for them. In turn our uses for these advances accelerate and try to catch up with the innovations themselves. A common example: The general population didn’t have mobile phones 20 years ago but you now we can’t function without them. Or in the interest of beating a dead horse, simply check this out.
As more of our interaction and social life goes virtual, industry and artists alike find new ways to “inject” digital interactions into the most mundane and analog of contexts. The present era is a fertile frame for “data transfer” themed art installations. My recent favorites occur in public space as grafitti, technology & the established art world cross-pollenate.
What I find most intriguing about Bartholl’s execution of this concept is that these public USB fixtures are a deliberately offline “drop.” They are not networked. This means that the “user” can only “interact” with the other “users” that (have already or have yet to) plug an appliance in to this physical location. It’s basically data oriented geocaching.
The relative anonymity and subjective intent of each user’s “drop” and each USB drive’s single physical location is somehow more compelling than if the inputs were networked like a common server. The downside I expect is that these drives will fill up quickly by users unknowingly or deliberately dumping huge files or the hardware will be bent or broken by haphazard vandals. This is ultimately limiting the variety and the interpretable “value” of the stored record but the concept and potential for response campaigns is strong.
On my regular culture-mining and inspiration-seeking expeditions browsing thrift and retail, I have encountered many times a book that piques my curiosity called, “The Encyclopedia of Russian Criminal Tattoos.”
What it has made me contemplate is; tattoo as the recorded history of a life lived. I’m not concerned with the cryptic, emblematic or profane content of the book.
Our experiences are tattooed in our minds, on our souls, in our behaviors. The semiotic representation of life’s milestones in ink on flesh is a conscious attempt to anchor, if not honor, these intangible realities in a physical way.
Even if memories fade, tattoos remind. Ink is scarred to skin at a moment in time and the tattoo forever echoes the moment of scarification and the significance of the experience the scar is intended to re-present. The art/scar lives as long as the wearer but ultimately fades like a memory with life.
Tattoo, as a piece of contemporary human culture, anchors us to the here and now of our collective survival-mind or the dual enlightened animal-ness of humanity and all that comes with it.
There’s this story that sticks with me. It takes place in a garden in Summer.
A young man asks an old monk “Why do you bother with this garden when you have such a gift for writing poetry? You could be writing poetry that will last for ages right now but you spend your time with this garden that will die in the Winter.” The old monk replies, “I grow my garden so that I may write poetry.”
I often think of that story when awaiting the next idea. Procrastination generally means putting off tasks but even the most mechanical of objectives can be done with inspiration; inspiration that can’t be forced. You don’t wait for inspiration. You allow yourself to find it and you practice “allowing” more than “finding.” Forcing an idea often supports the block. Just get out of its way and inspiration usually comes in on its own. Easier said than done? Sometimes.