The Death of Creativity / Day 39 of 365

Back in 2012, I was a creative super-machine. I finished a 365 project the year prior and had just bought my dream camera. It seemed like every week I was doing something crazy and new. I regularly dragged friends into frozen creeks, through stinging nettles, and into the wild recesses of my world. My camera lived on my shoulder and, like my mind, it was always fully charged.

I vividly remember having a late night conversation with Jake back then. He was one of the first artists that I was close to – and the one who really pushed me to create, no matter what crazy ideas I had. Our conversations usually centered around critiquing art that the other had made.

On this particular night, I was really pushing Jake to start blogging. Beyond consuming my life with photography, I had bloomed into blogging. It was almost October and I was participating in an annual ‘Blogtober’. I’ll never forget what Jake said to me that night;

“There’s so much stuff already out there already – I don’t want to contribute to the noise.”

Jake is about 5 years my senior and, unlike me, had been creating across every medium. I knew him as a photographer, a sculptor, a painter – one of the first interactions I had with him was at a church over-nighter. We went bowling and I spent the night talking with him. As we talked, he took out his sketchbook and drew a charcoal picture of me.

I think that artists typically remember their birth into art. This was the beginning for me.

When Jake said he didn’t want to contribute to the noise anymore, it was although I had woken up even though I was already awake. Suddenly I saw noise everywhere. There was too much information out in the world and I became self-conscious.

That was my death.

A weed was planted that night and I’ve spent the last 5 years pulling them up. “Is what I’m creating worth being put out there?” sprung up from the corner of my beautifully cultivated garden. Soon thereafter, “Am I really contributing or just creating junk?”. I wasn’t quick enough to pull these weeds out. I was in deep trouble when the “Am I bothering people by putting my art in front of their faces?” arrived.

Soon the weeds overtook the garden, and although I plant new flowers occasionally, they’re dwarfed by self-consciousness. At 18 years old, I didn’t have the capacity to understand this. I only saw that I was ‘making noise’. That was my creative death.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Ifit6xW8UCY?rel=0

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Free at Last / Day 3 of 365

When I announced this project, I posted what I was doing on my Facebook account. I told my friends and family what I was up to and why my account was about to suddenly go dark. I didn’t stick around for comments or a quick scroll down the Newsfeed. Instead, I immediately logged out.

I left the post up for a few days to allow the message to spread and today I went in to deactivate my accounts. Facebook was easy – I just went in and deactivated without too much thought. When I logged into Instagram, though, the top post on the page (I didn’t scroll, I swear guys!) was someone I’ve been following religiously for the last year and a half. The ease of deactivating Facebook, contrasted sharply with the FOMO I feel with deactivating Instagram.

Everything isn’t gray, sad, and lonely though. It’s been three days since this project has began and I already feel like I have more free time in the day.

I’ve wanted to learn how to juggle for about 6 months now – and about a month ago I bought some racquetballs to practice with. Without too much thought, I put them upstairs on the counter. Now, whenever I have a free moment, I find myself reaching for juggling balls rather than for my phone.

It wasn’t an intentional substitute – but it’s been working great! Here’s a really short video of my terrible juggling (I’m up to 64 juggles!) –

Hope y’all are having a wonderful start to the week!

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(as a reminder, I don’t intend on posting daily throughout this project. The goal is to take a digital fast from social media for 365 days!)

An End of Sorts

Well, I’ve written this post 3 times already but nothing seems to fit right. It doesn’t feel like an entire year has passed. Nor does it feel like I’ve written each day. I’ve moved from Texas to Mississippi, back to Texas, then to South Carolina. I’ve met some amazing people and done so much. I’ve experienced the highest highs and some of the darkest pits I’ve felt in my life.

I’ve written about missing home, kissing a questioning guy, and I’ve even shared a poop story. You know it’s personal when you can talk about poop. I’ve went from being bald to having a glorious 1.5” mane. All the way from going to a technical school to doing a technical job. While this year has been full of struggle, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There isn’t much more to say other than thank you. The support I’ve received from this project has been outstanding. I’ve loved and hated writing each day. While I won’t continue posting every night, I will be writing often. I have many more projects to do and more adventures to experience. Cheers and, again, thank you for following me through this year.

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Copyrights

In the art community, there’s a lot of talk about copyrights and ‘intellectual property’. People are upset that their images are used online without credit or that other people have edited their work without permission. These days it’s become more common for artists to have their work appear on books, in magazines, YouTube videos, and elsewhere without permission.

One of the major causes of this is that there’s so much information on the web. People are posting and reposting images without thinking of their source. On Facebook, people share images – on YouTube they put music in the background. It all comes from somewhere.

What’s interesting is that some of the best content is modifications of other people’s work. On Tumblr, people post gifs of interviews, stills from movies, they edited these images and make them into album covers and everything else. It doesn’t seem like it’s a problem there. No one complains that people are stealing content from movies.

How can a person complain that their work is being stolen while reblogging stolen content? It just seems so hypocritical to me. We need to find a way to solve this copyright problem.

364/365

Music Videos (for class!)

Back in 2010, I took a film design class with a few friends. We didn’t create a lot of content, nor was it great, but I thought I’d share it with you all tonight. We had a lot of fun creating these. It’s not everyday that you get to film music videos with a group of friends.

In the first video we took a generator out into the woods at night so we could power lights. It was crazy but a ridiculous amount of fun. The second was filmed at the college. The next one was just to mess with lights. Finally the last one was a project between my friend Michelle and I. We wanted to use some of our favorite local locations for filming. Enjoy!

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Dorm Room #2

While these aren’t fantastic pictures, they’re the first ones I’ve done in months. Occasionally the light hits in a certain way and I can’t stop looking at it. The camera doesn’t capture it perfectly but I felt the need to try and show a piece of it here.

This is where I live now. It’s a small dorm but it’s what I call home. White walls give it a blank feeling, something you can fill in with whatever you want. I covered my walls in maps and my shelves are filled with books. It’s simple and reflects who I am.

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Fragmented

Currently I have two Facebook profiles and I’ve had them since January. Earlier this year I decided to split my life, or fragment it between work friends and my personal friends. My contacts in my work life are mostly from Charleston. While my personal contacts include photographers from around the world and those I hung out with back home.

When I fragmented my life, I unintentionally broke myself. I divided the life I lead here from the one I had back home. All the dreams I had were left with those I used to live with. It’s a life I wish I could still lead but I’m gone. It’s the past, and I can’t go back to it.

The friends from here are different. They don’t have the same passions that I do. We’re not as close. It’s tearing me up inside because I’m caught between the path I was on before and the direction I’m walking now. I feel like I’m losing valuable contacts and time, and it’s slipping away from me.

Facebook has been this battleground because it holds both parties. I want to maintain contact with the old crowd, the one I want to have a future with. But I can’t because I’m gone. Yet, I want to have contact with those who are around me now – just not in the same way.

I don’t know how to explain it but I have to go to bed. I’ll write more tomorrow.

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Growth

If you want to grow, that means you’ll have to change. Growing is a kind of changing, a favorable change. Becoming a better artist, a better writer, or a better person is about changing who you are now into who you want to be. When you want to improve yourself, you have to accept that you will change in certain ways. You’ll lose undesirable traits, as well as parts of yourself that you don’t want to give up.

Who you are now is a combination of who surrounds you. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. If you look at your closest friends, you probably share a few traits. Maybe one of them really likes hard rock and always plays it when you’re hanging out. Eventually you’ll take on some of their traits simply from exposure to them.

Currently I live in a divided community that likes booze and video-games. The person that I want to become doesn’t align with who they are. Trying to be an artist, writer, or anything else is difficult when the people you are around don’t understand you.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s important to understand that when you want to take on certain traits, you have to lose some too. If you be something that you aren’t, you have change in some way. Otherwise you’d already be that person. Who you surround yourself with defines your limits. If you’re hanging around lazy people, you’re most likely going to be lazy too. Find the group of people that you want to be like and get with them. Surround yourself in those who you want to be like.

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One Week

That’s all that’s left in this 365 project. Come next Monday, I’ll have been writing for exactly one year. Over 150,000 words, or the length of two mystery novels. Everything that’s gone on from Texas to Minnesota to South Carolina. From going to school to starting a job.

In it, I did a vlogging project, reviews, started my own website, compiled other blogs, interviewed artists. A lot has happened in the last year and I’m happy to have recorded it with you. As this week progressed, I’ll be going back through old posts and writing further about them. 2014 is almost over and there’s a lot to reflect on!

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Too Much Information

With the creation of the internet, information has been growing at an exponential rate. Not only is there an increase in information, there’s an increase in the accessibility of this information to the public. Most Americans can pull out their cell phone or go to a local library and get on the internet. From there, they have access to millions of websites where they can learn anything from how to tie a square knot to how to cook a créme brûlée.

In the early 2000s, when the web was still forming, the internet was simpler. Bandwidth was limited and, therefore, web pages couldn’t support high definition video or high quality images. Navigating the internet was difficult because it took so long to load a single page. When you clicked a link, you hoped that it brought you where you wanted to go. If it didn’t, you’d be waiting for your dial-up internet to reload the previous page.

As technology has seven-folded, so has the capacity of internet. With most connects, it takes only a few seconds to load Facebook. As you scroll down the main page, videos autoplay and images load. When you upload a picture, it usually takes under a minute.

In the beginning, everything was text-based and simple. Web logs (BLOGS) consisted of hyperlinks to other websites. You would go to a blog to find links to funny, worth-while content. Since loading content took so much time, using a blog, you could navigate more efficiently.

High speed internet has resulted in an increase in visual content. When you load a news site like Time.com, you’re bombarded with large video-based ads, highly stylized pages, and large images. Looking at the site now, it’s beautiful and visually pleasing compared to what it looked like years ago.

When I started this blog project, I urged others to start writing as well. Creation is always better when more people are involved. Many of my friends started their own projects but one of them really stuck out to me. She said that she didn’t want to ‘add to the noise’. The internet was so full of useless information, she didn’t want to contribute to it.

It took months but this idea wore into my head. I didn’t think that there was too much noise. Everyone could contribute something! Then, with time, I started to notice something. The internet isn’t simple anymore.

We’ve got Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Reddit, 500PX, ello, WP, Myspace, Soundcloud, YouTube, and ten thousand other social medias. People can express themselves anywhere at anytime. Each of these sites are highly visual and full of information. However, the information that these sites contain are mostly useless. You can scroll on them for hours without really doing anything.

What’s lacking is intent. When we log on Facebook, we don’t have a clear purpose usually. We want to see what people are up to and what’s going on in our online neighborhood. Rather than waiting 5 minutes for our slow-as-crap dial-up internet, we just click, click, and click through pages. There’s no strategy in selecting sites.

Even worse, insides these sites are links that lead to useless sites. The information they contain is mostly junk. Now I wonder if I’m just contributing to the noise rather than serving some greater purpose. There’s so much information out there, are my thoughts valuable to other people?

I feel like there’s a lot of good information out there but there’s no way to separate the useful from the useless. With everything clawing for our attention, how are we supposed to find what we need, let alone display it for others to see?

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