Foreign Emotions like Foreign Languages

You know how they say that blind people dream don’t dream in images, they dream through their other senses? If a blind person dreamed of an image, would they know how to interpret it?  When you hear a foreign language, you can’t understand it because you haven’t learned how to interpret it. When a painter walks up to the canvas, they are translating from a blind man’s dream. The feeling they possess is intangible and they bring it from gibberish to something that is hopefully comprehensible. An artist simply wants to evoke or express that unintelligible thought.

The difficulty is that many artists don’t understand that they are trying to translate something that doesn’t have a set way of being expressed. There isn’t a correct way to express happiness or love or confusion. Essentially an artist tries to replicate a feeling but cannot perfectly match it. They leave their personality and interpretation instead. It’s like a child trying to forge their parent’s signature, perhaps it looks generally the same but it’s noticeably imperfect.

However, if you learn many languages, you can understand a new language faster and more efficiently. If a painter learns how to draw, play guitar, sculpt, and dance, he will be better able to translate his emotions. Sometimes a feeling can be best expressed with a certain type of art. If I know how to write, maybe my emotion would be best expressed through words. Only knowing how to write would severely limit my expression.

On the other side, inspiration comes in a myriad of ways. As I’ve branched away from photography I’ve realized that art is very fluid. Paintings express memories in a different way than a photograph does. A song from a particular time in my life can hold more emotion than a photograph.

Why is it that we, as artists, always crave inspiration? Is it because we aren’t able to express things we don’t understand? We have these emotions but we don’t know how to show them to other people. It’s as though someone is yelling at us in a foreign language and we’re desperately trying to understand what they’re saying. We want to reply or do what they’re asking but we simply don’t understand.

Lately I feel like I’ve started learning new languages. The emotions I go through can be understood better even if I don’t know that language. I can somewhat make out what I’m feeling inside and how to transcribe it into something to share with others.

The point of this post is to say that don’t try to force inspiration. It will come and go through your life and in different ways. I don’t paint or draw but I feel emotions that could only be felt through painting. There are days when words feel like the best way to express myself. Just learn to be receptive to the world and you’ll see the elephant in the middle of the room: everything in life is inspiration and everything is an emotion. You just have to be receptive enough to take that feeling in.

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P.S. The layout is changing again, so please be patient with me as everything settles down!

 

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“The Halted Traveler”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/coldforkphotography/3957291979/player/

There’s a style of art that motivates me to get up and produce my work. It expresses an emotion that I find myself experiencing regularly. Through it, I can start to understand parts of myself that otherwise would remain hidden. The concept behind “The Halted Traveler” has been used by millions of artists around the world – whether or not they know it!

“The Halted Traveler” was a term coined by photographer Damien Rayuela to describe art where the subject is looking away from the viewer. If you didn’t notice before, in most photographs the subject is looking towards the camera. However, in this style of art there is something so magnificent that the subject has the power to look away. In some of these images the scene is so incredible that the subject is running away from the viewer.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/k_air_en/4650551697/player/

The reason a subject has the audacity to look away from the camera changes from image to image. Though a common theme for “The Halted Traveller” is having the subject look out at a beautiful landscape. You see the back of a person facing out at a breathtaking view. My favorite are the ones with the subjects looking out or venturing out to the ocean. There’s something about the simplicity of the waves and the sky that really captures the emotion.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sealegssnapshots/4847408150/player/

What emotion do I see in this style of art? I see motivation mostly. I also see energy and appreciation. It’s both a static and kinetic energy. The subject is awestruck by the vastness of something but at the same time is willing to take it all in. After all, they did break eye contact with the camera to look at something.

The way that Damien Rayuela describes the portraits is a little different from mine. He says “[t]he impossibility to see the face of the wanderer leaves us with his posture and the scenery to question the [environment] that is unfolding before his… and your eyes.”

Not only has the traveler broken eye contact with you, they’ve invited you to share the view. You are now part of the piece of art because you are inside of it. “The Halted Traveler” acknowledges the viewer but still looks away. It’s almost reminiscent of the series “Follow Me” by Murad Osmann.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/karmagenerator/4425280786/player/

Regardless of the kind of art that you create, “The Halted Traveler” is something we can all take in. It’s got a unique point of view and relates to the viewer in a personal way. When you freeze before a beautiful sunset, you are living the emotion that is captured by “The Halted Traveler”. This is when you stand in awe of something great but you are ready to charge forward towards it all. Take a deep breath and take it all in.

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Inspiration (Linus & The Feel Good Factory, Broken Social Scene, and Roadtrip Nation”)

The main purpose of shifting domains was to reorient towards writing on a variety of subjects. One of the main topics I wanted to orient towards was inspiration. The internet is wide and ever-growing. Which means that there’s an endless amount of artists and media to ingest. It can feel overwhelming at times, and so I wanted to share only my favorite inspirations.

 

Linus & the Feel Good Factory

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How To Be The Lone Wolf” by Linus & The Feel Good Factory

The tutorials that Linus Hui makes are witty, sharp, and inspiring. His twist on English mannerisms and clever paper designs make him my top recommendation for today. Many of his photographs come with a tutorial like the one above titled “How to be the Lone Wolf”. The direct interpretations on these phrases make them enjoyable to read. In this tutorial he guides us on how to be the “Lone Wolf”:
“1. Shun all social contact
2. Do not join any social network like Facebook, Flickr or Grindr
3. Sneer at those who do not think for themselves
4. Wear a cool hoodie and conceal yourself, so you don’t stand out too much, because if you are too cool and noticeable, people want to follow you
5. Stealth; Prey on sheep
6. Live in a hermitage
7. Probably be a sexless spinster, die alone, and rot in the wild”
Not only is his work impressive, there’s a huge body of work to look through. Linus has completed three 365 projects (as of 2014) as well as countless other projects. The sheer volume of these tutorials is enough to keep you satisfied for weeks.
Linus’ ability to mix photography, paper, and text will make you want to create something yourself. There’s so much creativity involved in mixing all of those mediums. If you want to see more of Linus & the Feel Good Factory, check out his Flickr. Below are a few other images that I enjoy – click on them to be lead to the tutorial!

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How To Prevent The Growth Of A Potentially Dangerous Silly Thought

How To Check If You Are All Riled Up

How To Check If You’re All Riled Up

How To Preview Your Graceful Aging

How To Preview Your Graceful Aging

 

Broken Social Scene


Broken Social Scene is a group of artists that come together to create music. They originally formed at the end of the 90s and have included musicians from Metric (Emily Haines, James Shaw), Stars, and many others.
The reason I consider them so inspiring is because their sound changes so much. Their sound is unique to whomever is in the band at the time. Similar to the band Gorillaz. My favorites are the ones that involve Emily Haines like “Swimmers” and “Backyards“. In most of their songs the voices sound distant and muffled, which makes my mind wander. Perfect for getting in a creative mood. Their most famous song is probably “The Sweetest Kill“.

 

Roadtrip Nation

 


Roadtrip Nation is a series created to inspired college-age students to do what they are passionate about. Each season features three or four students getting together as total strangers and traveling around the nation in a giant green RV. On the trip they stop to interview figures that they find inspiring. These figures vary from olympic athletes to owners of major business,
The first few episodes introduce the new travelers and what they’re doing with their life. They join the show because they are going to school but they’re not sure what they want to do. You’ll run across chemistry majors, photographers, and everything in between while watching. The figures that they interview are just as varied as their degrees.
After they call around and schedule interviews, they drive off on the roadtrip. In these interviews they ask questions about why they chose their field, what they’re passionate about, and what advice they would give to younger students.
I find the show inspiring because the advice that these people give usually points towards following your passions. You meet people who have started major rock climbing stores that are nation-wide just by following their dreams. Not only is this show inspiration, it’s also informative about how to live a full life. The figures they find change them and by the end of the season, you can see the difference this trip has made.
The current season is free to watch but if you want to see their older stuff, you’ll have to pay to watch. They have videos on YouTube as well as many other social media sites! I highly suggest you check them all out.

 

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Well that’s all the inspiring figures I have to share with you today. These people have helped me in my life and I hope that you can draw inspiration from them as well. In the future I’ll write more articles on things that I hope can inspire you. Hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday/Monday where ever you are!

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Inspire Us All (#1)

Artist’s Block

Live is always around us. Behind every monstrous artist’s block there is a human being living their life. As an artist it’s so easy to think that when we aren’t creating we aren’t alive. Realize that art may be your livelihood but it isn’t your life. You’re so much more than what you create. You’re the cumulative experience of that creation – you are its inception, its imperfect resolution, and the emotions it took to create. While it’s true that there’s exhilaration in expressing yourself, sometimes we forget what art truly is.

Art is an experience. It is an intangible piece within yourself. Something you feel compelled to express. You may not create for others but art is an expression. It is the replication of something intangible. When you can’t create, it’s because you’ve missed the point of it all. Art isn’t something you can force out of yourself – there has to be something within you first.

Sometimes we can’t express because we need to absorb. We have to stop talking so we can listen. If art is an experience, we need to feel it. That isn’t always easy.

Lately I’ve found myself filled with words and feelings. Blogging has made it easier to express myself but it’s difficult to write about something you aren’t feeling. When I write about subjects, I’m not always passionate about them. I don’t have a lot of feeling about them and so the words move like molasses out of me.

That’s what a 365 teaches you. Expression isn’t always about the product – it’s about being compelled to bring something into existence. It’s the feeling underlying whatever you’re creating. Writing daily and completing a photography 365 in 2011 has shown me that while I idolize endless creation, I often forget to feel. I want to create that product so much that I neglect to live my life.

If you’re suffering from some sort of artist’s block, give it time. Find what you are passionate about in life and breathe it all in. Sit down and watch some TV, watch your favorite YouTuber, and crank up the volume on your favorite music. Inspiration will be found when you’re absorbed completely in what you’re doing. When you’re overflowing with life it will pour itself back out of you. Creation is breathing in everything you are passionate about and inevitably exhaling something beautiful back out.

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Share your Life

People travel around the world without writing a word about it. Others do amazing things daily without even wincing at the thought of sharing it. The things people do don’t usually seem spectacular to them. However, to others your life may be interesting. Your ideas, your thoughts, and your existence may be amazing to somebody else.

When the moment is said and done, what do we have left of it? Our memories fade with time and our perceptions change. What we once knew will go into the back of our mind until it eventually disappears. Writing is a way to remember. It’s a way to digest what we’ve experienced and to record it for others to see.

The difficulty is convincing people that their life is worth sharing. We all carry this idea that our lives are boring. We think that everyone else is living the grand life and that we’re just piece of hay in the haystack. Maybe we don’t put it that way but that’s how a lot of people feel.

A couple of weeks ago I tried to push my friend into blogging. Much to my dismay she said something along that lines of “I don’t want to contribute to the static. Everyone is speaking now and I don’t think I have anything to offer into it. My views aren’t unique or different.” I wanted to shake her and tell her that I wanted to read about her life. I wanted to go online and hear her opinions or what she loves to write about. What makes her feel happy and the ecstasy of doing the things she loves.

Another one of my friends lived in France for a year where she was a nanny for two school children. I wish I could have read about that. The truth is, I can’t experience a lot of these things. My life is too short and I’ll be too busy pursing other dreams. If you share about your experiences online, others can experience things that they never could have imagined.

My best friend moved to America for a year and didn’t write about it on a blog. She made posts on Facebook that are long gone and forgotten. The life she lived here is just committed to her memory. While there’s nothing intrinsically bad in this, she could have remembered so much more if only she wrote it down.

When I ask you to start blogging, it’s because I want to read about your life. I want to understand your struggles and be there with you in your triumphs. Your experiences enrich the lives of everyone around you. While you think you don’t have much to say, I don’t believe it.

If you don’t want to share your opinions, don’t. Just write objectively. Tell us about your greatest accomplishment or your greatest shame. The world is full of storytellers and I want you to be part of them. Definitely live your life but contribute to the pool.

There are so many voices in the world and yes, sometimes it feels like static. Yes, there will be times when your experiences won’t be amazing. But when you have a wonderful experience, you’ll have it in front of you. When five years have gone by, you’ll have a portrait of yourself. If you ever feel alone, you will be able to look back at yourself and know that rough times come and go.

Blogging is so much more that people give it credit for. When you write, you digest it in your mind. You have to recount what you’ve experienced and give it meaning. You realize what you’ve experienced and what it means. Maybe not fully but you have to put it down in front of yourself. Making your life tangible can seem difficult but I can assure you that there’s no better feeling than going through old posts and remembering a good time that you forgot. Like reading about people you used to hang out with or movies you used to love.

I want you to contribute to the static. Add your piece in and find yourself. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for others. Share your passions and maybe you’ll spark something in somebody else. The world is in desperate need of you and what you have to say. All you have to do is speak.

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Decide

There is so much more power in fleeting moments. The knowledge that what’s happening will eventually end and move on. Everything will die eventually and we have little control over the many things around us. When we know that we’re going to die, we lack the ability to do everything. We must prioritize and choose the actions we wish to take in our short time.

With immortal life, we could experience everything. From every type of heartbreak to every delight. There would be no separation from you and the next guy because eventually you would experiences all of the same things.

In our short lives, we are destined to end. We are fated to eventually perish. What you do with your time is what makes you who you are. Not what you think or what’s in your head. What’s tangibly done in front of you. At your whim. Use that power to decided where you’ll go.

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Variety is the Spice of Life

When I was a little kid, I remember only liking two foods – mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes. Everything else was strange and foreign. I felt like I could choke down a new food but I couldn’t imagine eating other foods regularly. Potatoes and noodles were the staple food of my youth.

It wasn’t until I traveled to Spain that my palette changed. Suddenly I was living in a new culture and had to conform to the diet – which consisted mostly of fish. Where I stayed they didn’t know what mac ‘n cheese was and mashed potatoes were a rarity. So the more I ate fish, the more I grew to the taste. After trying it, I could try other foods and expand further.

The change wasn’t immediate when I got home though. Most of my diet remained the same as it was before. Over time my tastes expanded with each place I went. Things that I didn’t enjoy at all, like raw tomatoes and avocados, became a huge part of my diet.

When I moved out last year, I left home and my family’s cooking. Not only did I leave having access to a kitchen, I left my part of the country. Foods native to Minnesota (are there even any?) were much less prominent in Texas and Mississippi. I was forced to change my diet.

When I finally got out to Charleston, South Carolina I realized that I have become a total foodie. Going downtown is like an adventure trying to find the best restaurant. Finding a new atmosphere and a new climate has become exciting and fun rather than stressful.

As I look back at myself, I realize that my taste preference wasn’t the only thing that changed. I’ve come to know that “variety is the spice of life”. There’s so much joy in new experience and new things.

When we only eat apples, we don’t know what an orange tastes like. We can’t understand why people make a funny face when they eat a lemon or cry while handling onions. We don’t know how deep a cheese can taste or how flavorful raspberries are.

By restricting ourselves to doing the same things repeatedly, we miss out on all the wonderful things life has to offer. Yesterday I was at a music store and started a conversation with a stranger about some bands I love. It turns out that she was into the exact same bands as I was. We spent the next half an hour talking about new bands to listen to and being giddy about the ones we loved. My life was so richer sharing that experience with her.

For the past month I’ve been going downtown to various new places that people recommend to me. One of the places I ran across was a bakery. I originally went there for bread but I found out that they have a lot of odd products you can’t find other places. Since finding it, I’ve tried sun-dried tomato bread, yogurt-soda, sesame seed bars, and drinks make from aloe vera plants. Each item was a brand new experience and an exhilaration. Each time I went, I’ve run across the same baker who laughs and smiles at my craziness.

I know that being adventurous is contagious and I think that all humans crave experience. Some just have a self-imposed barriers – fears they think they face alone. We fear being rejected by new people, going to places we’ve never been, and trying new things. Everyone faces them.

Why? Because we don’t understand that part of the experience is that occasional rejection. Almost spurting yogurt-soda out your car window because it tastes so horrible. Having a great story to tell when you get lost in the ginormous Paris airport. Vlogging in public and having people jump into the back of your videos.

The thing is, I can’t push you over your fears. I can’t make you realize how much it’s worth it to conquer them. That’s something only you can figure out yourself. I can only tell you that variety is the spice of life and living with just salt and pepper is a boring way to live. If you’ve only got 80 years to live, then what are you waiting for?

Go try sushi for the first time, I did that last month. Buy plane tickets to that country you’ve always wanted to see. Talk to that person you like because life begins outside of your comfort zone. And who knows, maybe that person likes you too. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

In the comments, tell me something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try.

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