Monday, April 20, 2015

Cybercide Is Painless

I recently gave up a huge chunk of my social media web presence. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, etcetera, etcetera; all chucked right out the window and landing with a splat next to a misbegotten Dell laptop purchase from years prior. I got tired of my iPhone being my de facto eyestrain device to alleviate the boredom and tedium of being out-and-about in actual reality. Mountainous data charges notwithstanding, the Pavlovian need to engage with people and things virtually lost all of its meaning for me. And you know it's time to unplug when you find yourself asking "What's the point to any of this?"

Pre-Internet (around 1994-ish or so), I was a fairly productive person. I wrote more and much better that I am even struggling to do here now, and I made things - tangible things like, zines and artwork - that filled me with a certain sense of pride and accomplishment. Things a virtual existence simple can not. 

Social media is, I'm sure, great for other people. But it's just not my bag. Whenever I'd run across a picture of a loosely affiliated friend mugging the light fantastic with a group of what appeared to be close compatriots at a dinner party, backyard cookout, or whatever, I'd find myself becoming envious and bitter of their gleaming good times. Or I'd look up exes just to, you know, see how their lives where getting along now without me (totes healthy behavior!) Or maybe I'd try putting myself "out there" on the Internet, promoting my artwork or writing, and becoming frustrated with the lack of attention my hard work and creativity was garnering. And fuck me if my clever little jokes and astutely bitter observations weren't bringing down the house on Twitter, with nary a "like" or repost to feed my flagging ego.

I started to seriously dislike the person I became due to engines designed to fast track the social engagement process. I had become an even more desperately narcissistic and needy individual than I was before. I mean, seriously loathsome energy output, if I'm being completely honest (and I am, for the most part).

Eventually, I got fed up with my whiny bullshit routine, so I decided to cut the series of tubes connected to my own private misery machine. I woke up one morning a couple of weeks back and simply "unfriended" most, if not all, of my social media accounts, laying waste to a bevy of apps on my phone in the process. And I gotta tell you, it felt pretty damned liberating.

It's nice not receiving friend requests from people I haven't spoken to in 20-or-so years. Someone else's European vacation pics? I'll take my own when I get over there. Bugging a semi-celebrity's yackity-yack account as to when the next episode of their podcast is coming out? Perhaps it's better to slow my roll and just maintain.


Committing what I like to refer to (but am not 100% positive I made up) as "cybercide" has given me a lot of free time to go out do... well, things. I'm skateboarding again. I'm making collages and sketching in my Moleskin again. I just bought a new bike and have been slowly shedding the sack-of-crap pounds I've gained while moon-eying the Internet all those years before. And though this very blog your reading now has suffered from infrequent updates, I'm writing again for fun (screenplays, music reviews, and the like). And when not doing any of that, I'm discovering new things in my town I never knew existed. It's been pretty sweet.

I don't mean to bag on social media. I'm sure it's a great outlet for a large majority of the Earth's population. I mean, mazel tov, you crazy, inter-connected kids! It's just not for me. I know I'm socially retarded and crowd-graceless to begin with, but I don't need a virtual microphone advertising that fact. And banking my dreams and expectations on the hope that "friends" and strangers alike will lavish me with undo an un-earned attention is pretty weak sauce, no matter how you slice it. 

I got into this social media game for all the wrong reasons, but I got out for all of the right ones. So, there's that.

Below are some recent collage pieces my lack of Internet prowling has afforded me:

"Veritable Quandry"
c. 2015, collage on paper

There's a restaurant here in Portland called "Veritable Quaundry" and that's what I named this piece after. Of course the definition of this phrase is much more contextually apropos -  a state of perplexity or uncertainty - but honestly I just thought the name of the eatery sounded cool and named this collage after (or rather, in honor of) it. This piece was made using mostly images from a 1936 edition of Better Homes and Gardens and a freebie local skin rag advertising our town's plethora of titty-n-tattoo bars. There's a feminist message going on in this one. See if you can decipher it.

"Yesterday's Jam"
c. 2015, collage on paper

I don't remember exactly how I came across Australian collage artist Kareem Rizk, but the moment I did, his work had a profound reawakening effect on me. Of course, Rizk's stuff is fuckin' amazing, and you just want to look at it all day. Anyhoo, this piece is kinda, sorta "inspired" by looking at his work. So yeah: derivative. This one is made from the scraps of an old collage I made, but wasn't entirely happy with, mixed in with images from a Nordstrom's lingerie catalogue addressed to the previous tenant of my apartment. The title comes directly from an episode of The IT Crowd, which I was watching while putting this piece together.

"Night Shift Hecules"
c. 2015, collage on paper

This piece corresponds with what I called my very last physical mix CD ever, ever. You see, I used to make mix CD's to hand out to complete strangers or leave at freebie tables of local business, but recently I've gotten the impression that actual mix CD's - physical compact discs that hold music on them - are a bit played out. Handing someone a free mix CD containing artwork and meticulously compiled music was usually met with a shrugged "Oh, they still make Compact discs?" response. Yeah, so anyway: last one. This one was built around that gold leaf Mary n' Jesus card someone handed me on the street one day. The title came about while working a night shift courier job. It sounded clever at the time.

"Overcast Romantigues"
c. 2015, collage on paper

I've been kicking around this mix CD full of 80's gothic-ish/new wave (The Cure, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, etc.) for a while now, but the covers I'd come up with for it never quite did it for me. Then one day as I was putting together some items I sold on eBay for delivery, I saw this sticker on the side of one of the boxes. I peeled it off, affixed some lettering to and *VIOLA!* It's not a great cover by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm satisfied with it, so that's good enough for me for now. I kind of like the simplicity and starkness; perfect fractured visual for music listening on an overcast day. Oddly enough, the back cover features colored stripes from a bag my friend Billy brought back with him from one of his trips to Japan. Yep. Pretty Much.

 "Neglect 'Em All"
c. 2015, collage on paper

I was recently digging through an old box of cassette tapes and came across this mixtape I made back in the very early 90's. It contained a treasure trove of crunchy-guitar cynical rawk in a vaguely industrial vein, featuring the likes of Big Black, Naked Raygun, Nomeansno, Painteens, The Revolting Cocks, Lords Of Acid, and so on and so fourth. Eh. What can I say? I was a mixed up and petulant kid and I liked my music angry and jaded back when. This piece is a re-appropriation of that mixtape's artwork, with extra bits added to it. I'm particularly proud (?) of the Wite-Out Metallica-esque font for the title. Um... Fuck yeah!?!