Self-doubt

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

-Sylvia Plath

Not everything you envision can easily be brought into being as an image or object or text.  You must relinquish the idea of perfection and strive instead for a feeling of creative fulfillment, whether or not what you create lives up to the expectations you have of it in your mind’s eye.  Nobody else knows what that looks like, so they may appreciate what you’ve accomplished more than you do.  I’ve often created things, been dissatisfied with them and put them aside, and then a few months later looked at them again and thought they weren’t as bad as I had originally thought.  Keep everything; destroy nothing.  You can always use fragments of your prior work in new works.

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Digital Images

Eyeball001“We might best regard digital images, then, neither as ritual objects (as religious paintings have served) nor as objects of mass consumption (as photographs and printed images are in Walter Benjamin’s celebrated analysis), but as fragments of information that circulate in high-speed networks now ringing the globe and that can be received, transformed, and recombined like DNA to produce new intellectual structures having their own dynamics and value” – William J. Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992) 52.

Recombinant images…hmmm.  In a basic sense, people worry about ownership and copyright in ways that are anachronistic given the digital world.  The image commons is a liberating phenomenon, as are the ways in which we can easily transfer images to various devices and archive them in safer ways. 

The more troubling aspect of image manipulation and new modes of visualizing information is the way that the “real” has been altered.  It is impossible to tell – from the image alone – whether the makers of the image aspire to its “truth-telling” capabilities (image as evidence) or its documentary potential (as in photo-journalism).  How best to utilize representation to further democratic principles?  How to use it ethically and responsibly?  Or is this a mute point?  Is our lot in this era more a matter of approaching images with a criticality and skepticism?  After all, propaganda is not in itself a new phenomenon, but is as ancient as human mark-making.  We just have new methods for its production and circulation.  But so too do we have new methods of exposing, undermining, and subverting it.

Craving Dialogue?

The need for connection is strong when I’m trying to think through ideas.  That is when I feel social and crave dialogue.  Ideas are weak if they’ve only been tested on yourself.  To make them more robust and muscular they need the grease of numerous brains!  So, I’ve been thinking through versions and visions of democracy that utilize technologies in the most ethical and equitable ways possible.  How to find ways of creating collective thought that bypass the consumerist impulse (wherein the notion of “choice” resides)?  I have some potential to make a difference with my purchasing power…look for the bunny (no animal testing), look for organic products (and pay more for being responsible), buy local (for a smaller environmental footprint and to support local farms and businesses), shop at the thrift store for clothes (so I’m not contributing to sweatshop labour), etc.  It isn’t easy trying to be a good citizen.  But when it comes to having some real agency, I feel more powerless.

I’ve moved!

My previous blog can be found at http://participatorypedagogy.blogspot.com.  WordPress is is my new home.