Modes of Man
I’ve been pretty paralyzed with regards to publicly expressing truly original thoughts for the last couple years. It feels strange to type that, and I’m not even sure to what extant it’s actually true, but at this moment it feels accurate. Why? Simply, for my last day job, as a requirement of said job, I spent an inordinate amount of time scouring the news and figuring out ways to repackage existing content. Inherently there is nothing wrong or bad about this and I believe I did good some good work that helped both my coworkers and the company I worked for. But it rewired my brain. In November I was laid off from that job, along with a lot of other talented writers and editors. Last month I started a new day job doing social strategy of a very different variety. While I can’t go into the details yet (INTRIGUE MYSTERY SUSPENSE!) I can say that is requiring me to completely rewrite my brain on social. Ultimately that is a GOOD thing, and I can’t wait to reap that harvest and share with you.
So this, social media strategist, is one mode of man. It exists, I am grateful and excited by the opportunities it has presented, and deeply committing to doing good work in this arena as I believe, however naively, that there is still a lot of good that can be done.
Another mode of man has found me creating work for two upcoming exhibitions. The first, a show in London at Arebyte titled Blinding Pleasures and curated by Filippo Lorenzin, deals with the filter bubble of our current existence online (good timing right). For it I’ve created a new sound work from the recorded electromagnetic output of my iPhone while checking my social feeds for 27 minutes one night in early January. Once I sort out the hosting details I’ll put a link here. The work will be presented alongside a takeaway print of an iPhone schematic with my notes about the score. If you are reading this right now you probably spend a decent amount of time online and probably on your phone; this work, called “Browsing the Blues”, sonifies that experience.
Also opening next month is a mammoth project I’ve undertaken with The Barnes Foundation for the next exhibition Person of the Crowd. My involvement is a few-fold, and draws upon my digital and social media experience and conceptual/sound investigations from the past few years. In its most describable form it’s a video installation that pits machine learning (in the form of an app developed by the remarkable Kyle McDonald) that interprets your instagrams hashtagged #personofthecrowd in projected text and voice, to a video created with the help of Philadelphia high school students performing an exercise where they listened to the sounds of Philly’s 30th St Station then filmed each other describing what they heard. What does the computer think it saw, what do students remember hearing?
In addition to the installation I’m also working with a web designer and developer (the great and patient Brian Feeney) to put together a microsite that will serve as a living document of the overall exhibition, including the many scheduled happenings throughout the city for the duration of the show.
Another mode is activist man. Which, I am not going to mince words here this man is fucked. I am still at a near loss when it comes to how to respond and what I actually think about things and my art is evolving only at the rate I know it must but there is a part of me that wants it to move quicker into the territory of the explicitly political but I’m not ready and you cannot force this because lies in art are the easiest lies to spot.
Maybe the most illusive mode (and hardest to talk about) is that of partner. I’ve been married a few years now and it has been among the most rewarding, and at times challenging, experiences of what it means to be human. Of what it means to put another ahead of yourself. And what it means to evolve practically, emotionally, intellectually. I fail at these more frequently than I’d like to admit. Like literally yesterday. My ego and selfishness are ever-present demons and I still have a long way to go in many of these areas, but what I’m learning is a way through life that is rewarding in ways that defy logic or the trappings of other senses of perceived accomplishment (e.g. professionally). At its core I think evolving this way is critical to preserving the best of my/our humanity, no matter what comes our way in the near future.
By extension of being a partner, the next step is being a friend, and cultivating friendships. I said sometime at the end of last year that I hoped 2017 was the year of friendships and feelings. Even though I have a long way to go in having friends that bear no consequence in my professional life (I’M LOOKING AT U NYC), if you wanna have a go at being friends, holler at me.
Final mode: None of this matters. I’m not convinced humanity will withstand our self-inflicted global damage much longer. I’m not convinced we will survive AI or that we’re not already living in a simulated reality. The only hope I currently have (today) is that we will be able to port our consciousness to AI and it will live on that way (probably fending off more evil AI haha). And that consciousness as intelligence in the universe can never die.
Ok this has been a personal blog post for sake of planting a very tiny flag (like the ones they put in fries in European tourist restaurants) in the nape of the internet. Be well, internet.