ILL EQUIPPED (2011) Pencil crayon on paper, 70X110cm
The idea for Ill-Equipped was sparked by an article titled ‘pancake people’ in the Magazine Adbusters; a term used to described the mental make-up of humans being tossed around in the info-frenzied world of endless updated techno-gadgets: a wide, far-reaching, grasp of information (piling up on us at an insane rate), but empty of depth and context. Then there was a not very well heard of Novel named Feed by M.T Anderson, which perhaps portrays one of the bleakest futures in which consumerism in a super techno-advanced age runs amok; dumbing down an entire nation, making them incapable of deep thought and empathy, whilst the environment (the less fortunate parts of the human race) collapses around them. There was also my experience of becoming slowly saturated into the computer-run world of tasks and duties, where work becomes blurred with spare time, and, as Thom Yorke sings on his very relevant (to the first decade of the 21st century) album Eraser “there’s no time to analyse/to think things through”.
I became concerned that this ‘spreading-out’ of our minds, as too many things fight for our attention, would surely make us more indifferent, lacking empathy, thus unable to truly understand what is happening to the surrounding world, which is plagued by pressing issues, possibly never to have been matched in their sheer scale. We are expected to know so much about so many things; gone are the days when humans had a small collection of things that they could devote their selves to. The system convinces us that we need to be informed about everything, need to see everything, which usually results in nothing more than an addiction to gossip on mobile phones/social networking sites. This makes it very difficult to retain any deep-rooted beliefs and makes it an uphill struggle to prevent the thinning-out of our thoughts. Most information is also massively infiltrated by advertising, which begs us not to think of anything much but the material appearance of ourselves and our immediate cravings. But at the same time we are ‘advised’ to search for relaxation, whilst in reality the world of endless tasks (endless emails to answers, endless codes/passwords to remember) we are propelled into makes the caffeine-fueled life of Red Bull/Expresso drinking seem the like the only way of staying in tune.
Instead of pancakes, I wanted to use satellites for the heads of the people; wide, thin, great at transmitting and receiving information, but the information lacks context and depth. The figures stand on islands/or upturned boats in the rising waters, stranded and helpless; transfixed by the constant information they are receiving; blinkered to their pending demise. They are hardwired to all the information they could need, but are immobilised by years of being passive and are ill-equipped to deal with living in a world which requires deep knowledge rather than an information deluge.
And this points to what all of my concerns can be traced to: the destruction of the planet (climate change); it deals a severe blow to my hopes of us having the ability to perceive a new world and prevent the scenarios which would occur when we reach a tipping point. But, like Thom Yorke, I speak as as culprit/victim too. I also get webbed down in a physical world dominated by a hurtling cyberspace, sending text messages which seem ‘urgent’ at the time, needing caffeine-fixes to get through the day. As I fear the ‘thinning out of thinking’ I am also thinking of myself.