You’ll ruin your eyes

Since beginning The Outside World links lists on Tu Scene, I’ve peeked into whole new art worlds: the state, national, global art arenas. Frankly, I find it incredibly daunting and rather confusing. One reads so much about so many things, it morphs into a viral canon about what’s hot and what’s not at the moment. Instead of informing one’s thought and aesthetic through one’s unique filters, it only serves to make it bend to an unseen peer pressure. Keeping up with it all also takes time away from doing Real Work. I admire writers who manage to blog incisively on a local scale yet seem to be in touch with a wide range of web presences. Maybe it’s because, as a graphic designer, I instinctively feel set against RSS feeders like Bloglines and Google Reader. Same thing with Twitter. Although I know they may make my internet life easier, experiencing the aesthetic of a particular site helps me understand where the writer is coming from.

Some of this questioning also comes from being honest with myself about my sphere of influence. I’m an emerging artist and don’t necessarily aspire or expect to be famous (at least, not in my what is currently the last year of my 20’s, or into my 30’s). Establishing myself on a local scale is a main goal, so that is what I look for in my regular reading about nearly anything. I do keep in touch with several Texas sources, since that’s where I’m from and have many friends, but that’s about it. I haven’t lived here long enough to even touch Phoenix, or anywhere else in Arizona for that matter. Since I’m still peeling back the onion that is Tucson, I don’t feel I’m ready to approach those areas.

There’s a real tension between honesty and growth. Being honest with oneself and accepting limitations and inclinations, and growth through nurturing technique and expanding one’s realm of thought. Growing isn’t easy, it’s just plain annoying/frustrating and potentially painful. Here’s an example: for me, asking questions seems more important than finding concrete answers. Yet, if I don’t push myself to really think about possible answers, have internal debates and tête-à-têtes with friends, I’ll never know myself. And acquiring self-knowledge is a form of honesty.

Blogging confounds this even more. Not as a blogger myself, but as a reader, in reading a piece and then following the thread of comments therafter. It gets so tangled! You could say this about a lot of literature and journalism, actually. Two books I read this year, Wayne Koestenbaum’s Hotel Theory and Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper, are broken up to the point that you wonder what the hell is going on a lot of the time. But in the case of blogs and reading articles on the web, the private conversation between the writer and you is disrupted. I take this to heart because reading inspires me so much as a visual artist. I don’t mean I create things that interpret what I read, but I like to read things I attempt to express through art, yet only seem to come out properly in words. (I admit, I’m pretty insecure, although I’m not fishing for praise here).

It seems like every other week there’s something circulating in various media about the death of the newspaper and publishing. What they need to realize is that there’s a new form of reading taking shape on a massive, sweeping scale that I’m trying to grasp, that feels more natural someone 10 years younger than me. The sooner they understand this and try to change instead of forcing/marketing obsolete methods, the better chance they will have to survive. Am I nostalgic? No. I’m sure somewhere down the line, a simulation of consuming printed media will return, not a straightforward fake like the guys hawking handbags on the side of the road, but a sur-reality, the way fashion has been regurgitating the past since the 1970’s, the way suburban shopping centers are designed to look like urban cores, the way “found objects” (both real and reproduced) and crafts in interior design steal the soul of the original. Who knows where this is all going.

All I know is, right now, I feel like I’m looking for some answers. I need some answers. But the questions have slipped my mind so I don’t have much motivation to figure out where to look.

Leave a Comment