Feel the fear and do it anyway?

Null This week’s reflections hinge around our fears about publishing our work online. I know quite a bit about that. It is about that pesky 2 year old who refuses to give up his toy. Here are the questions we are being asked to reflect on this week: “Is there work you felt  you shouldn’t put …

Art by Edward Monkton: http://www.edwardmonkton.com

Null

This week’s reflections hinge around our fears about publishing our work online. I know quite a bit about that. It is about that pesky 2 year old who refuses to give up his toy.

invokeour2yearold

Here are the questions we are being asked to reflect on this week:

“Is there work you felt  you shouldn’t put online because you were afraid it would be stolen? Copied without your permission? What are you afraid someone else will do with you work?”

Ask a direct question, will you?

So I listened to Cory Doctorow in his keynote embedded above. He talks sense that guy, even if his jokes are a bit obvious.

He first cheerfully tells us that ‘ your art is as likely to generate success as the edge on coin contest’. Artists may set out to land the coin on the edge but the majority of [us?] them will fail. Say it straight, will you? I was reminded of when I taught at the University of the Arts and student actors where told something along the lines: out of the 30 people in this room, one of you will be famous, a couple of you might make a living from acting and the rest of you will find another career. I used to think it was inspiring to see all these young people wanting something so much that they did not care about the odds. They **were** going to land the coin on its edge.

 

'Art and Coins' Animated gif by Gifadog
‘Art and Coins’ by Gifadog

After a few bad jokes we get his 3 laws:

Anyone who puts your work under lock and key but does not give you the key, is not doing it for your benefit.
Fame will not make you rich but you cannot sell your art without it.
informationfree
Information does not want to be free. It just wants you stop anthropomorphising it!

Given Cory’s laws I guess that I had better work on any fears I may have about putting my stuff out there, letting people use my cute cartoons for advertising haemorrhoid cream or my animated gifs for getting traffic into gambling sites. Is any publicity really good publicity? No. Cory says that there is a right and a wrong side. Actions we take to sell our art  that are on the side of censorship surveillance and control are on the wrong side of history. If you have to break the Internet to accomplish your coin on the edge feat then you are also on the wrong side of history.

So we give our stuff away to be famous, we do not give it away to be kept under lock and key where others keep the key and we remember that it is not about stuff but about relationship. Artist running free on the open web? Wait. That’s DS106 #4life

Happy holidays everyone.

 

Is it art or is it spam?

So we had a lovely hangout for CT101 this week. (I am at the limit of what media I can add here and I am not used to that. I pay for the media pack on my wordpress.com blog and never run out of space to gif there. So just links here from now on) …

So we had a lovely hangout for CT101 this week.

(I am at the limit of what media I can add here and I am not used to that. I pay for the media pack on my wordpress.com blog and never run out of space to gif there. So just links here from now on)

We had many technical issues but Prof. Michael drew on his tech support past and we managed to overcome them all. I have not watched it again yet, but wanted to write this post now to note some key insights I had as we talked. It was such a rich conversation, I want to go back and review it again soon.

For now, what stuck?

  • Bebo saying we must connect to something we love deeply to find inspiration. All the more meaningful coming from a young person who is starting out as an artist and seems determined to hang on the joy of creating.
  • Prof Ryan talking about how we have preconceptions about what art is that are unexamined. Such as who counts as an artist. Leonardo and Michelangelo may be, but modern artists? Meh.  Ryan explored this to show us how limited our conception of what is an artist can be. I suddenly realised that what stops me from saying I am an artist is precisely this same preconception. An artist belongs in the Uffizi not on Tumblr. Change that belief now!
  • Michael saying that when he started out the people whose judgement he feared the most were those who were close to him. I had not consciously thought about this before. Yet, I reflect that only recently I started to say ‘I make digital art as a hobby, so I made you this’. I only ever thought about sharing what I make with my close friends and family weeks ago. It suddenly occurred to me I can save a heap of money on presents making art for friends :)
  • Stefanie tried so hard to join us and it was so lovely when she did. I have known her for most of my DS106 life. She has been a great guide to me, challenging me in the most kind and caring way to call myself an artist. She said that now I had spent an hour talking about what art is, I had not escape but to call myself an artist!
  • Stefanie also said that artists do not just create for fun but that they have a drive to create. They have to make art. I was reminded about what I always say about writing books: “I pray I will not get another idea. Writing books is hard, but once i get the idea I must write the book.”
  • So far I have only talked about the meaningful asides. The core of the conversation was to explore how we get over our fears to show our work. I requested this topic because I realised that one of the things that stops me from calling myself an artist is my fear that people with say ‘I hate it’.
  • Ryan ( Zen master like) said that all this talk about evaluation and emotional attachment to outcome was just the ego talking. Yeap. True that.
  • I went down this route because of a task Ryan had set for me to learn. Publish a post of art I love and art I hate. I realised that in doing this I would have to go public on my emotional responses to art. This was at the edge of my comfort. What if I lost all my friends when I told them I hate Constable for example?
  • I reflected that engaging with the idea of being an artist is a powerful was of developing one’s emotional intelligence.
  • Defining myself at the identity level as an artist, the way I say ‘I am a psychologist’ or ‘I am a writer’ means profound personal change. To me ‘I am an artist’ feels as risky as ‘I am a poet’. I confessed on the hangout that I have a lot writing that I label ‘ramblings’ but that others might call poetry and that I never publish that.
  • Since starting DS106 I have published some creative writing as a means to tell a story. This now feels pretty okay. Mostly, people value the way I put words together.
  • We talked about the process of liking on Tumblr and other platforms. I said that I do not attach a lot of value to this. On reflection this is not, strictly speaking, true. As a flip-side of fearing those I care about hating my work, I put a lot of value on a ‘like’ from people I respect. I am less concerned about accumulating quantities of likes from people I do not know.  I think it is true, as Michael says, that the process of curating art can teach us a lot about where our passion (our vocabulary) for making art lies. I had not considered this before I started playing with CT101.
  • Ryan suggested an another task: your favourites on Twitter contain a mine of information about constructs that matter to you emotionally and that can form a purposeful part of your inner ‘artistic mindscape’. Off looking there next.
  • We talked about John Johnston. A fellow DS106 traveller who also wonders if his work is that of an artist. Stefanie mentioned how he tends to focus on the technical aspects and minimise the artistic elements. We all went ‘his gifs are something else, man’. Definitely art and (Shhh…. he might hear :)) he is definitely an artist.
  • Ryan disagreed with me when I said that may be he could not understand our fears as he had always been supported as an artist. He told the story of going to art school and feeling a passion for Graffiti Art and how the powers that be in art school kept suggesting he might try a different type of art. He kept coming back to his love for graffiti art.
  • Is it art or is it spam? Could it be that, like so many things in our personal growth, it is what I believe it is?

I started calling what I learnt to make in DS106, artefacts. I too would have said it was the technical elements that appealed. I have never focussed too much on the story telling element of it. I got hooked on making animated gifs. Why? Who knows? I love animated gifs. Full Stop. I love them. Art or spam? They can be both. I have made some I am now proud to call art and have currently settled for ‘makes’ to describe what i do.

Animated gif by @gifadog. “Slaying our inner MOOC monsters” for the HEA conference 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another note, I keep telling myself I ‘should’ learn photography. I never get around to it. Don’t get me wrong I love photography. Yet, I never get around to taking photos. What do I find myself ‘having’ to do? Looking for photos others have taken and doing creative edits of them. I normally say that is just for fun. It is fun. But you know what? I feel passionate about salvage. Recycling digital content is another theme I notice runs through that space where I notice what I ‘deeply love’. As far back as the start of this year I was preoccupied with this thing I called ‘digital landfills‘. I risked disagreement from those whose views I respect stating my view that may be, just may be, we needed environmental awareness for the digital as well as the physical:

Sell-by dates for data? Digital Literacies that include a sense of guardianship for what we produce? Questioning our god-given right to keep hoarding content just because it is virtual? Let’s keep the ideas coming without changing the conversation to ‘But, we have the right to create!’ We do. Yet,  if we stop to reflect, we may also see unintended and unwanted consequences in our creating?

How aligned is that with my passion to look for existing stuff and remix it? Mind has ordering principles if only we listened more often.

Thank you guys for such an enlightening conversation, I will be pondering on all these nuggets for a long time and am definitely on my way to being an artist!

Creating distinctions

So Ryan taught me this week that ‘it is super important to have a contrast of between what you like and what you don’t like when selecting content’. Michael taught me that I need to learn to ‘form an opinion about how choices are made. This is you identifying your tastes.’ Actually they have both been …

So Ryan taught me this week that ‘it is super important to have a contrast of between what you like and what you don’t like when selecting content’. Michael taught me that I need to learn to ‘form an opinion about how choices are made. This is you identifying your tastes.’ Actually they have both been talking about this since the start of this course. I remember Michael saying that even when we choose to reblog something on Tumblr we are making an artistic choice and that we need to learn to understand the criteria for making a decision.

I panicked this week when I realised that this means making public and accountable choices about what we like, what we do not, and more importantly, why?

A lovely conversation with Ryan on Twitter led to the start of a note where I started collecting what I love and what I hate. I felt a little like Sheldon and Leonard above sorting comic books and could not resist a little remixing. I realise that there is the emotional dimension of being pulled towards something or away from it. Yet, there is also a third option – there is the stuff I want! I want it enough to have on my wall, to keep in my Pocket, to keep in my favourites and that I enjoy enough to view over and over again. This complicates the task significantly.

Ryan talked this week about how he is guided by his embodied experience to select content to work with:

“I notice how I feel not just on an aesthetic level. How does my body react. I am more present. I am propelled into immediate action without distraction. Fully engaged.”

It reminded me of something a gif artist I read said about her craft:

“Great GIFs you can watch forever without getting annoyed. There is no formula of how to do it — it’s a kind of magic. I play with mine until they reach the certain “groove” where I could watch them forever, then I know it’s right.”

I am fascinated by the distinction between ‘what inspires you?’ and ‘what inspires you about that person or character?’ that Ryan made on the hangout this week. From a psychological perspective the reason people find it easier to answer the second question is dissociation. It is safer to detach and talk about somebody else rather than myself. As I listened to this conversation, I realised why I have a character to sign and create my animated gifs. I have a pen name for my art. One step removed, so I can call it gif art!

If I get clearer on why I hate something it will illuminate why I like something. This is the hypothesis we are testing. I guess it starts to build a vocabulary for our art. What I find interesting is that this whole process can be seen as developing one’s emotional intelligence as well as one’s aesthetic sense. I even had Ryan say to me I should embrace my Jungian shadow when I realised that I hate stuff many people love. This felt a vulnerable place to be in. Of course, my likes and dislike say a lot about me and very little about the art I evaluate. Art psychotherapy via the animated gif! I knew it was the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I started an art critique project on my regular DS106 blog. It has been challenging. I am trying to learn theory and apply it to DS106 art critique. It means spending time with a composition to be able to go beyond like it/hate it and learn a vocabulary to express why. If we are going to make meaningful commentary we must allow ourselves to be seen in our words.

My note on Evernote will be my creative procrastination for a while. I hate Constable, I love Mantegna. I love Hopper, I hate Klimt. I love surrealism, I hate pre-raphaelite painters. I can watch Blade Runner over and over. When a university boyfriend made me sit through Sergei Eisenstein’s films, I nearly left him. I love Bluegrass music, I hate One Direction. I love poetry, I hate fiction. But not all fiction, science fiction I love. The point I think Michael and Ryan are making is that in this selection process we can find our artistic voice. This feels both terrifying and exhilarating. It certainly feels like a long term project for me. I am starting to see a pattern and I am also starting to see a potential ‘why’ to my liking for the animated gif as a medium.

And then, just when I did not know where to go next, I found Jeanette Winterson,

We hear a lot about the arrogance of the artist but nothing about the arrogance of the audience. The audience, who have not done the work, who have not taken any risks, whose life and livelihood are not bound up at every moment with what they are making, who have given no thought to the medium or the method, will glance up, flick through, chatter over the opening chords, then snap their fingers and walk away like some monstrous Roman tyrant.

I think I have a guide. I have bought the book and will be reading with great attention. Already she has given me a metaphor to learn the language of art – it is like visiting a foreign city. I know how to do that. I have spent a lifetime learning new cultures and navigating foreign cities. And there is a method to learn how to do this well. It involves attending, humility, looking beyond the obvious, assuming that it all makes sense and taking time to find out how it makes sense to locals…may be art can be as transformative as learning about new cultures?

Jeanette says: ‘The obvious direct emotional response is never simple, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the “yes” or “no” has nothing at all to do with the picture in its own right.’ I see this clearly. My reactions say more about me than they do the external stimulus. As I learn to create distinctions by selecting content I am enthusiastic about, I may be finding that elusive artistic voice.

Here is one tentative rule: I am drawn to elegant solutions. I can fall in love with a sentence that expresses something with no redundant words, a line of code that has no extraneous components, a painting that tells a complex story with just one scene, I love Bach because his music has a perfect pattern…I can make sense of a lot of my likes from this heuristic, but also of many of my hates. Flowery fiction that takes 100 pages to get to the point drives me crazy, unless it is painting a picture of a fantasy world in which case it is creating something new.  On the other hand, I could read this sentence forever,

“I passed a little gallery and in the moment of passing saw a painting that had more power to stop me than I had power to walk on.”

A little sentence that expresses elegantly with no redundancy all that I have been trying to express in this long post. I recognise that moment. It is rare. I experience it online with some animated gifs.

I guess there is more than one rule to our artist within. Kicker to come.

 

 

Gif the portrait

Well, I must admit this was a big challenge. I did not really understand the process and I am still not sure I did it according to instructions. I think I managed to get the required size and mix elements of the portrait as requested. I cannot fathom why the size but here it is, …

Well, I must admit this was a big challenge. I did not really understand the process and I am still not sure I did it according to instructions.

I think I managed to get the required size and mix elements of the portrait as requested. I cannot fathom why the size but here it is,

portrait5
Animated gif by @gifadog ‘Bark like Cogdog’

It started as Jonathan’s Worth lovely portrait of Alan Levine,

alan_levine_1f_500

I then wanted to find a way to have the portrait somehow emerge from this animated gif I made from a video posted on Twitter yesterday,

dogbarking
Animated Gif by @gifadog ‘Educational debate on the web’

My idea was to suggest from the image:

“You can either fight like dogs or be like Cogdog when you think about the web.”

I wanted to follow on from the ideas of the previous post about Aaron to say the Internet is both-and not either-or. Yet another #big fail. I cannot see how to combine the two gifs….yet.

I made a huge portrait gif just because I can an posted in Gfycat. Check it!

Here are a few examples of the stills I made for the gif. I am unsure why we had to save them but I did.

stills for the gif
stills for the gif

In conclusion, it was fun. I do feel like I have missed an important learning point about the process. Any feedback welcome, did I get the point of this assignment?