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August 13, 2017

an inundation of art



Even as I watch my weblog stats diminish, like so many other bloggers are doing these days it seems, I have been contemplating the value of instagram to me. All these years wishing I could participate, and now I wonder if it's worthwhile. Not in terms of followers (I am always going to be a small, quiet voice in the world) but as a tool for my own artistic development. Blogging certainly made me a better writer, and it's only a shame that, generally speaking, all but the most popular sites ... the people who have been able to sell their lifestyle ... are fading. I still love to write here and have no plans to stop. I consider it a beautiful opportunity, just as I find Twitter a blessing of information and Facebook a handy place to share links. Instagram was going to be the place where I explored my photography style and grew in confidence.

I actually achieved these goals with one gallery - and then I lost the password to it. Instagram makes it almost impossible to get back in to a locked account. I still have my knittingthewind page, but in all honesty it's a messy jumble of micropoetry, lifestyle pictures taken on my phone, and artistic photography.

And yet, I'm not sure I want to begin a new gallery. Why work hard to create pictures I value, and then upload them to a place where many people will "like" them without even really pausing to look properly at them? Where they will just become another sqaure in a set, another obligation to like so people will like yours back. 

I have the same question about twitter/instagram poetry. On one hand, it's a wonderful way for writers, especially indie writers, to attract an audience and hopefully from that sell books. On the other hand, such an inundation of poetry ... such a clutter of words ...

Do we devalue our artistic creations by oversharing them ... and by extension devalue all art? On instagram there is no quiet space around each image to hold the viewer in mindful contemplation of the piece. On pinterest, people's art is shared without credit in the service of someone else's visual narrative. I am wondering what the next evolution of online art sharing might look like. Perhaps a return to simplicity, to slowness, like a real experience of a gallery, library, or magazine read over morning tea.

I only hope there will always be a place for the small quiet voices, the shy girls, the innovators, the wild and strange.


14 comments:

  1. Sarah, I truly hope you do not stop writing as your voice is one of my newly discovered favorites. But I totally understand the dilemma. I am also an artist but have retreated into working for no audience other than myself as I could no longer stand the noise that surrounded every small creation. I write for myself, I make art for myself, and I find that more and more I am returning to a more "analog" life. The roar of all the millions and millions of people are doing while constantly on the move finally exhausted me to the point where I participate less and less, interact on social media with only a few folks and keep turning down the volume of my own internal cacophony. I love your quiet voice, it inspires my inner calm to settle in while I go and have a cup of tea.

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  2. I love your last words.. I hope so, as well.
    I don't have a smart phone, so I can't do Instagram. Silly.
    Blogging has changed, but I still like it, so I'll carry on. I'm also finding Facebook to be a good outlet. But I don't sell my work, so it's all strictly play for me.. a way to share art.
    The internet is so jammed, I understand your dilemma.
    I love reading your beautiful words. They are powerful in delicate way. ♥

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  3. I don't use twitter or instagram - partly because, as you mention, it's all quick and instant reactions, then on to the next thing...
    For those who like to take their time, the slower-world of blogging is for me (apart from the over-filled screens of adverts on the so-called 'popular' blogs).
    That's why, selfishly, I need you to stay here, quietly writing and sharing gentle images. You and Lesley A. keep me sane... And I echo badhbhua's last sentence word for word :) x

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  4. Thank you all, your words are so very kind and warm my heart on this stormy night. I can't imagine ever stopping blogging ... I used to think, years ago, that I might, but it's such a blessing to me now, it helps me with my writing in ways I can not explain ... if only I had a template I could stick to, then all would be perfect :-)

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  5. You can use FB to log into Instagram, I think. Makes it easier. Otherwise, it's easy to get a new password...

    I like Instagram - you can choose who to see in your feed. Many amazing photos, art and stories out there. I recommend following Nat Geo.

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  6. I think about getting IG solely to be able to leave comments: so many of my favorite bloggers of ten years' standing, rarely blog anymore, or at least, far less frequently. But: they post to IG daily, and share lots and lots of written content too! Thhings that would have gone on into a blogpost, before ... and I want to communicate, just as I normally wouod .... really, I should sign up ... actually posting photos tho' ... **laughs** well, we'll see. Photography was such a passion of mine, before the brain turmor. Now it's rare I take any at all! (Physically it is might challenging). .... I can't imagine giving up blogging either, Sarah! I love it as much as ever. xoxo

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  7. "Do we devalue our artistic creations by oversharing them ... and by extension devalue all art?" Yes.

    I think about this all the time.

    The very nature of art is to permanently *record* something seen, felt, heard, or imagined that amplifies the truth as we have experienced it. Even temporary art installations and performances are recorded in some way and produce an 'artifact'--because without an artifact, you do not have art; you have merely memory.

    I believe it is possible that our current 'digital age' will later be regarded as another Dark Age. I fear that much of what is currently being created (especially written) will be lost. For example, Adobe Flash player is being 'end of lifed' and all of the 'content' (a demeaning term used by corporate tech giants) from the first twenty years of the internet--wonderful animations, games, stories, and characters--will be inaccessible. Imagine if, during the Renaissance, some wingnut decided that marble was an evil substance (perhaps because he owned a limestone quarry?) and so used his influence to have all marble statues tossed into the sea. The statues (Michelangelo's "David", Donatello's "Madonna in the Clouds", etc.) would still *be there* but they would, in effect, be lost to the people; and with time, they would be lost indeed.

    Consider this: the corporate tech giants desperately need our 'content', otherwise, their programs and applications are for nothing. They make billions of dollars off our creativity and desire to share it--it all ends up in a 'cloud' *they* own and can 'end of life' whenever they wish.

    I am currently reading a historical novella that incorporates the real diary excerpts of a 19th century New England woman. If her diary had not been written on real paper, if she had not made an album of the mosses she collected, preserved and loved, her life, her unique vision of the world, and her work would be lost. Now, a few interested people are able to come to know her across the distance of time. It is a breathtaking contrast to social media which takes our writing and photographs and makes them available to millions of disinterested people who are just looking for a way to distract themselves from ever feeling boredom.

    More and more, I (and other bloggers, too) see the importance of creating artfacts and preserving the old analog methods of paper, ink, paint, clay, and fiber; of print photographs; of vinyl records; of spending our time making something lasting and tangible for people who will give our work more than a cursory glance before swiping it away, hitting a 'like' button, or leaving a brief comment.

    Art is timeless treasure.♥ In fact, oftentimes something is not recognized as art until sufficient time has passed (many artists, like Vincent van Gogh, never sold a painting in their lifetime). In this digital age, our treasures may vanish before anyone recognizes their value.

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    1. Oh, gosh, I apologize for writing such an incredibly long comment! I didn't realize how far I had gone on!

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    2. PPS: Also, I loved this post, and my son read it, too, and thought it was great. He mentioned someone who is very funny on Twitter who tweets like 30 times a day, but as soon as these hilarious gems move down the feed, they are in essence, gone.

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  8. Dear Sue - yes, you have seen exactly what I was saying. This is particular : "spending our time making something lasting and tangible for people who will give our work more than a cursory glance before swiping it away, hitting a 'like' button, or leaving a brief comment." Thank you for your wonderful comment! And I agree with what your son said too, another point I feel strongly about - it can take hours sometimes to contemplate a photo, gather the elements, wait for the light, take the picture, edit it ... and then it's basically gone after a few hours on instagram. Same with poems. I remember when I first began writing poetry, how I'd savour the process (writing the words down on whatever paper I had nearby was only one part of it) - now, it's a matter of thinking something up to put on a white square or slip into the twitter feed. No point in savouring anything as its gone so fast, and leaving little resonance in the world. I do believe blogposts are better because people tend to approach them more mindfully, slowly.

    Sorry if I'm inarticulate, it's very early here!

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    1. Also to add ... I'd definitely hesitate to compose another book of poetry, because people get so much of the stuff for free, why would they be bothered to buy it from me? I also know many photographers who can't make a living with their art because instagram provides so much content for free. It's the same as it has become with journalists and musicians I suppose. And I'll say this, deep in the shadows of my combox ... very little of the written content out there is especially good, and yet some of it has become exceedingly popular. I think it affects the discernment of readers. But then, people have been saying that about the likes of penny dreadfuls" for centuries, haven't they? :-)

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    2. Ugh, sorry for all the typos!

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  9. these are some interesting questions. i prefer blogs to any of the other internet based posting/sharing/social media options. but i am an unhurried and somewhat luddite kind of person...

    my own posts i make and share---for whom? mostly for me; my poems are seen by so very few other people, and while it would be nice to be published, it doesn't change the way i think or function artistically. much of my lack of tangible worldly achievement may be explained by this reticence, this lack of ambition, this utter disinterest in putting myself "out there"...

    quantity (and "visibility") over quality seems very much the contemporary way. and yes, i do think that many consumers of media lack the discernment or interest to appreciate a good thing when it glides past them in the sea of other offerings. i've no good insights, no answers. all i know is what i myself prefer; and that despite my misgivings with public presence and social media, i still have been happy to encounter other souls of like mind "out there".

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  10. You ask good questions. The world is changing. I watch friends and more so their teenagers scroll through IG and other things.... so fast, not even clicking like or commenting. When they do pause it is a split second. I am told the young people can take it all in, while talking too. Hard to believe.

    I think it has always been a challenge to be recognized as any sort of artist. Now we are exposed to more people expressing themselves artistically, but it is still hard to become recognized and to earn money doing so.

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