Comme Des Fuckdown

He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.

Albert Einstein (via humancode-us)
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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Aristotle (via humancode-us)
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The only thing you really have in your life is time. And if you invest that time in yourself to have great experiences that are going to enrich you, then you can’t possibly lose.

Steve Jobs (via humancode-us)
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You know we all can look at the same object, but we will all perceive it in a very unique way. It means something different to each of us. Part of the job of a designer is to try to understand what happens between physically seeing something and interpreting it.

Jonathan Ive
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I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

Joseph Campbell (via alexwonderland)
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We have learned to trust the photographic image. Can we trust the electronic image? With painting everything was simple. The original was the original, and each copy was a copy - a forgery. With photography and then film that began to get complicated. The original was a negative. Without a print, it did not exist. Just the opposite, each copy was the original. But now with the electronic, and soon the digital, there is no more negative and no more positive. The very notion of the original is obsolete. Everything is a copy. All distinctions have become arbitrary. No wonder the idea of identity finds itself in such a feeble state. Identity is out of fashion.

— Wim Wenders, A Notebook On Clothes and Cities, 1989 (via Just focus)

This statement is from 1989, before the world-wide-web or the first digital camera (The Kodak DCS100) were created. It’s accurate in some ways, though deceptive — the conversation about the aura of an image, particularly in photography and film, is at the center of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Benjamin discusses at length implications of originality and the diminishing value of an image as it is commodified and consumed en masse. Unlike Wenders, he doesn’t simply denounce reproducibility, he arrives at a transformation of intent — “the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice — politics.”

Both Benjamin and Wenders showed incredible insight into the future, but neither could predict the rate at which the importance of authorship has diminished in the era of “curation” that Tumblr, WeHeartIt, Pinterest, and similar media-sharing communities have cultivated. The sense of identity that is lost with the originality of creation extends from these decades-old ideas about film to the modern era of blogs — the distinction between creator and spectator becomes increasingly blurry as the spectator is now a participant, the origin of an image is inconsequential as the masses of “curators” seek to define themselves by those images they consume, their [perceived] identity has become more important than the actual art (or the artists) from which they have derived it. Again from Benjamin (of film, but perhaps more applicable to blogging in 2011), “Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional… Literary license is now founded on polytechnic rather than specialized training and thus becomes common property.” 

So does this imply pejorative meaning? Has society regressed as creation is no longer a facility of the vanguard, now that anyone can be an author and further that the appreciator of a masterpiece is as important as the creator? Any opinion is likely determined as a result of one’s position as either author or curator… Conventional wisdom considers infinite reproduction as the destruction of value and ritual, the loss of identity and aura, desensitization. Traditionalists romanticise a bygone era where the separation between artist and spectator existed, where the artist was isolated in a class that existed outside of socio-economic bounds… but this need to grasp to an old-world ideology is clearly self-serving.

Futurists and spectators say “fuck it!” with a punk rock disregard for rules or bourgeois ideas of ownership — art in a classless society is for the people. Some of my favorite artists relied heavily on these notions — Andy Warhol as he explored the commodification of art with elevation of universally recognizable items iconic importance and the subversive factory-like reproduction of iconic images until the singular lost all meaning, and Keith Haring who shattered notions of originality with his POP SHOP, where his art was produced and sold for mass-consumption.

Love it or hate it, the depreciating value of originality is not slowing. In 1930, Georges Duhamel wrote of film, “I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images… a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries…, a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence…, which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.” It’s almost as if he were describing a Tumblr dashboard streaming with infinite, seemingly identitical images, a web browser with innumerable tabs perpetually opening and closing to increasingly numb eyes and increasingly thoughtless minds.

But is Wenders talking about the value of photography in the age of digital reproduction or the authority? Is the fear that modern images lack the gravitas of old masterpieces, or that they betray truth as infinitesimal modification becomes easier and easier? Possibly both. It’s true that digital tools allow for a more persuasive level of deceit within a photograph than ever before, but the idea that forgery and alteration are products of technology is supercilious and puerile.

For decades the photograph was viewed as truth, as evidence, but it was never real, it never told the whole story. Magritte challenged the idea of representation with his painting of a pipe that stated explicitly, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe). The important distinction was made between a physical object and oil paint applied to canvas in an attempt to depict that object. The statement seems obvious, but as the fidelity of the representation becomes greater, the distinction becomes less apparent — this is the case with photography. Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, exploited the trust vested in photographs to create false realities that he presented as truth among his works of photojournalism. He did not alter the surface of the image to fool the spectator, but rather staged a fiction within the frame that was assumed to be real. Digitally manipulating an image is just one way to deceive an audience, even an “original” in Wender’s terms cannot be trusted because reality exists beyond the bounds of the film frame. In terms of time and space, a still photograph lacks context — it can imply that which exists outside of its bounds, what’s directly above or below the crop of the image, what happened an instant before it was captured or what will happen an instant later, and thus it can create a narrative, but to take any image as truth is to disregard that conscious (and sub-conscious… and sometimes devious or self-serving) decisions were made to shape the content of the frame. The photo is not the truth, but rather the truth that the photographer wants the audience to see.

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Hustler by Joey Roth

Hustler by Joey Roth

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“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” — A Man Without a Country, 2005

So It Goes: Our 20 Favorite Vonnegut-isms (via bbook)

Reminds me of this commencement speech (often attributed to Vonnegut), that surfaced during my formative years.

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I’m really scared for my generation, you know. The thing that scares me most is Tumblr. I hate what Tumblr has become. Because it like, it reminds me of those clique-y girls in high school that used to make fun of everyone and define what was cool, but in five years, when you all graduate, that shit doesn’t matter. No one gives a fuck about that shit. Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me. Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living. It scares me.

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I use the Internet intensely. I didn’t foresee that my whole little life was going to revolve around this object, this computer. That’s worth exploring to me, not simply being critical of it. If you’re going to have a movie about people my age in L.A., they’re going to have to be online a lot of the time or it’s not realistic. But for anything to happen, they have to stop being online. All of those little moments throughout the day when you’re like “What am I doing? Who am I?” I just check my e-mail, or I go online. That sort of mini-lost feeling isn’t new, but I’m curious what happens when you don’t really have to see it through, ever. There is always a distraction.

Miranda July, on her new film, The Future (via thesalinasvalley)

(via somethingchanged)

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I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.

Marilyn Monroe
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If you go on Tumblr, it feels like half of the internet consists of teenagers wishing they were alive in the 60s. And one thing that I’m writing about for Rookie is about why the 21st century isn’t that bad. It’s like, “We have Miranda July you guys!”

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Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good… Every significant invention must be startling, unexpected, and must come into a world that is not prepared for it. If the world were prepared for it, it would not be much of an invention.

The Man Who Inspired Jobs: Edwin Land, creator of the Polaroid Camera and inspiration to Steve Jobs.

Upon meeting Jobs, Land said of his invention, “I could see what the Polaroid camera should be. It was just as real to me as if it was sitting in front of me, before I had ever built one.” Jobs replied, “Yeah, that’s exactly the way I saw the Macintosh.” He said, “If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn’t have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it and then show it to people and say, ‘Now what do you think?’”


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