Tiesto’s new album dropped on Spotify this week and boy is it good. You know me and my avid clubbing. Here’s the goodness:
I just finished reading Design is a Job, by Mike Monteiro. You should go pick up a copy for yourself. It’s a quick read that will be massively helpful for you as a designer, artist, and person. More than simple design advice, Monteiro gives advice on how to be professional, not make excuses, and get your ass in gear, in a witty and usable way.
I just found something that I hope is going to be really cool. It’s called listserve, and it’s a grand experiment in connecting people together through technology. Every day, one person gets the opportunity to speak with over 1 million strangers. Talk about collective experience.
This idea of collective experience is one that has been on my brain when franticness has been supplanted by idle wondering. How often do we get to enjoy a true collective experience? The other day while I was on a bus full of strangers we paused at a stop light and while we were waiting, we saw a terrible car accident being cleaned up. One of the cars had in fact flipped over, and there was all kinds of debris littering the intersection.
The entire bus went silent for about a minute.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time. Sure accidents do, but not in this way, where ~ 50 folks all witness it at the same time, and are roughly experiencing something similar.
Then again, over the weekend, we were out walking and out of nowhere there was a ruckus coming from the intersection at First and High. There, in an old Cadillac – the kind that is old enough to be ugly, but not old enough to be cool – was a man in a blue hoody who was being arrested. A small commotion stirred in the several hundred folks out walking – it was gallery hop – and we all watched as the police officer got out of his car and pulled out his gun and steadied it on the man in the Cadillac. As the policeman was moving closer to the man in the Cadillac, another cruiser, a paddy-wagon, and the police helicopter all converged within moments of one another. Lights, sirens, and the blades of the helicopter filled the atmosphere. As. We. All. Watched.
Together, with a few hundred people – many of whom were taking photos on their smartphones – we had a collective experience that none of us had anticipated. Perhaps this moment will be lost on most of the people who experienced it firsthand, but, maybe not. There were guns drawn, the potential for calamity. It had all the ingredients to make for front-page local news, but instead went down as a routine traffic stop, with only the slightest amount of drama.
I don’t really know where this post is going, but to say that I’m simply fascinated – and I mean fascinated – by collective experiences. Think about watching an athletic event. So many people, all from different backgrounds and walks of life, together, by satellite or geography, experiencing the same thing; or at least a facsimile of the the same thing – but that should be another post. This is something that’s truly incredible about humanity.
To wrap this up with some semblance of coherence, lets just say that I think that collective experiences are something of value for humans. These experiences happen all the time, regardless of whether or not we take notice. Technology enables something of a collective experience – more on that in another post – and it checks most of the boxes for such experiences. Listserve is a cool example of an intentional collective experience with a million+ people you don’t know.
Currently Listening: Flying Lotus
It’s quite possibly time for me to get off of the high horse here about what art is and is not, but for the time being, here’s a few more thoughts.
“Kitsch isnt necessarily evil, its just not great. Its moreso comforting and familiar, which is not inherently bad, it just isn’t truly life giving. Kitsch may have the capability to recall life, but not the ability to transfer new life. Kitsch is the stillborn child of craft. Kitsch allows us to easily understand and therefore never presses us into uncomfort, never questions our stance or thoughts. Kitsch merely confirms and affirms all that we already believe. Kitsch never forces us to be vulnerable, which means that we are never able to receive something new from it.
All of this is to say the for something to truly be art, it must be alive and life giving. Art make can make us uncomfortable, because it is creative and therefore an addition to humanity and culture. The vulnerability that art can create is precisely the reason that it can be so impacting. It is something beyond us and therefore something that we don’t already grasp or posses. It challenges us and won’t let us sit idly by. This challenge also leads to its disapproval. It requires something from us and for those not willing to give, from art they will not receive.”
This pre-bedtime rant – constructed entirely on my crappy Blackberry Bold no less – was spawned after thinking about creativity, vulnerability, and the death of Thomas Kinkade.
Incoming opinions and sweeping generalizations.
Art – the substantial kind – really separates itself from other forms of communication and making because of it’s innate characteristics of being semi-alive. Now this has no bearing upon it’s physical state, but rather has more to do with the idea that it possesses something of life. Generally this something comes from it’s creator, in some sort of transference. Regardless of means, this new thing embodies something of life.
Because of this liveliness, art cannot be treated as simply on object, an image, painting, sculpture, etc. There must be some sort of interaction that takes place and therefore there must be openness. The more openness from all parties involved, the greater possibility for impact, transference, and life. This openness allows for receiving from one another, but also requires vulnerability. I must be vulnerable enough to admit that I don’t fully understand something when I first encounter it. I don’t know what it means.
Prescribed meaning severely limits possibility. One of my good friends from school always harped on me about how I was always trying to prescribe meaning, and I had a hard time believing her and understanding; but I think I understand now, somewhat at least The gist of what she was trying to help me realize was that if I tried to dictate – prescribe – meaning, the potential – possibility – for sharing, impacting, altering is limited to my understanding and ideas.
So this was about Kitsch, right? My disdain for kitsch is entirely centered around the mindset behind it. Kitsch is nothing but prescribed meaning. It’s possibility for growth is non-existent, and therefore, so is the viewer/owner’s in relation to that object or idea. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be comforted, or feeling loved – these are good things. However, when we conflate these desires to a place of equality with art, then we ask to be shallow.
Art is challenging, because it is an interaction. But this also leads to its beautiful possibility.