Tag Archive | internet

Century P.T.S.D

Century P.T.S.D. (2016, A3, mixed media on paper)

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NoteToSelf (2016)

NoteToSelf (2016, A4, ink on paper)

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The Internet is Making Me Ill…

…and other Year-Sapping issues that self-righteous simplification responds to by saying: “don’t do it then…”.

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If such a complaint was raised in, say 1997, when the Internet had about as much centrality to contemporary life as a praline Latte does now, then “don’t do it then” would be an appropriate response. In 2015 the Internet is at the beckon call of our every thought to the point where it has a say in everything little thing we contemplate, whether we use it or not. We don’t need to have Wifi to be thinking in ‘Wifi’.

I’m not career savvy, I’m not go-getter, and I’m not desensitized enough to the deluge-broth of horror and envy that constitutes social media.   I overthink (a fatal error in our ‘just do it/don’t look back’ competitive age), I have an obsessive personality, and my pre-Internet-age-damaged sense-of-self constantly needs recognition/acceptance from others; 3 traits that made have the Internet a destructive intrusion into my life.

I don’t claim to be a great analyzer of our (non)times; if any respectable theorist had enough free time to Google their own name, they’d probably be laughing at my overuse, and misuse of a handful of their ideas.

What I do claim to be is somebody who is all-too-aware how the Internet heightens, even mushrooms, pre-existing issues I may or may not have. But, yet, how it encompasses the horizons of now, so that it more or less seems impossible to do anything without it. Yet when I’m on it, it is impossible to do anything with it, as my ability to think properly is ambushed by an hasty anxiety that seeks recognition as if I was a drowning soul seeking oxygen.

‘Fuck Up’ doesn’t even get close; “don’t do it then” warrants outspoken anger.

 

Why didn’t the riots return (in the years following 2011)?

What happened to that energy/impulse that Slavoj Žižek said was split between positive/emancipatory and destructive, which burst out in 2011? For me, the destructive energies/impulses of the UK riots in August of that year exemplified both the explosive jolt out of neoliberal capitalism’s snatching of our hearts and minds that 2011 showed glimmers of (even, as to quote a friend, if anything the riots were in fact that very neoliberal right wing libertarianist “system expressing itself”), whilst also being an exemplar of why these energies/impulses seem to have evaporated since.

I must admit, as spring met summer in the following year of 2012, it slowly became clear to me that it wouldn’t return during this calender year. Specifically here in the UK, as such antagonistic energies, and an ability for cognitive mapping of the social landscape were being diverted and dissolved by a succession of Jingoist demands on the population (the Diamond Jubilee, England’s place in the Euro 2012 Football tournament, and last – but certainly not least – the London Olympic spectacle.) Yet, I really expected this energy to return in 2013, expecting that survivalist adrenaline the media hype of the riots induced in me with ominous anticipation. I expected it to the extent that I found myself in uncomfortable arguments with people who mistook my desire for the fault-lines in this social-Thatcherism-par-excellence point in time to become like gaping chasms in the streets we walk, with a desire to see a return of the mob violence and ruination of livelihoods which was the truth of the riots for many.

Come-what-may they didn’t return (and I severely doubt they will again this year). As I said, I felt they were both an exemplar of the energy/impulse that erupted in 2011 as well as for the reason it didn’t return, because here in the UK nothing else shook the real of neoliberal Britain than they did. And as part and parcel of the justified fear  they induced in the rest of the population (hyped by the media so that it felt like it was happening in every street – “they’re coming for you!”) was the way in which the clampdown by the state could drag down and smother all the emancipatory lifeblood that was flowing through that year along with the riots.

What crept into my thought processes in the following couple of years was the reverse: a total lack of energised belief, an audacity to challenge the post 2008 zombie capitalism, that (like the recent, fast zombie, movies) is feeding off life at an unprecedented speed. A malaise, an ever more privatised construction of our world has ensued (consisting of a deep immersion in sound-bite-sharing on social media, pictures of cute kittens, Netflix dramas etc). A higher level of unreality, repetition of our own lives until then, side by side with an increasing narrowing of future horizons towards that (“one day, surely!) ever-harder to attain secure, stable full time job, and that desire to remain in whatever employment we have, which has raised the protestant work ethic in the work place to an hysterical level (such that the frenzied, yet pointless bureaucratic landscape of Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film Brazil now just looks like another day at work.)

Energy has been zapped, time increasingly taken from us (as the need to be constantly checking our cell phones, social media profiles – “as something promising is surely behind that sms envelope/bright red notification” – dominates our subconscious) and the ‘gloves off’ neoliberal capitalist assault as plunged us all into a survivalist state of being, centred around an eternal present where each day merely resembles the next one. Climate change, escalating situations in only-just-out-of-sight countries – these things become both too much to comprehend and also worryingly unreal, like looking at the world through a just-emptied Jack Daniels bottle. How can the energy/impulse for change that is so crucial right now return under all of this? Everything is moving so fast, yet there’s never been so much malaise when one is confronted by anything beyond their increasingly porcupine-like ego. It is hypermalaise.

When I attempted to undertake a Cultural Studies course in London during the fall of 2012,  the many social, environmental, existential issues were all seemingly at a tipping point on my horizon. Perhaps, because of this, I caved in on myself down there and needed to return to the familiar South/West Yorkshire landscape. Of course, if they were at a tipping point 2 years ago, they most certainly are now. Yet, likely because of the aforementioned predicament , they suddenly feel off radar, miles away, happening but not happening at the same time. As well as this I had to train myself to become a little distant from what I saw around me after London simply just so I could function, because not being able to function when I needed to find work again simply wasn’t an option.

In 2013, my approach was to pick up ideas on a ‘cognitive mapping’ of our contemporary landscape from the shards of an unfinished course, and apply these to my home landscape, in an attempt to build a coherent picture to challenge the disorientation and confusion surrounding our contemporary landscape that everything else was more or inducing in me, and (seemingly) most other people too. After veering away from this project during the last 6 months, I have come back to realising just how crucial it may be as a way of grasping reality from the hands of the neoliberal state’s media control over reality, where the amnesia of now, leaves us blind to anything but an ever-distant past (surely this is why countless people find themselves perplexed that the 1990’s – just before society became immersed in the Eternal Now of cyberspace – is actually a long time ago now) . Thus, I have begun making these maps again, memorising what caught my attention in urban/suburban landscapes during the same day, before it disappears into this time-hole. The map below is the one I made yesterday.

 

map 17 june

 

Rebuilding The Flattened – new art book

Rebuilding The Flattened

Trawling Back all the tweets

http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/5122312-rebuilding-the-flattened

Image ‘Pancake People’

“…today, I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”. A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance — as we all become “pancake people” — spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button. Will this produce a new kind of enlightenment or “super-consciousness”? Sometimes I am seduced by those proclaiming so — and sometimes I shrink back in horror at a world that seems to have lost the thick and multi-textured density of deeply evolved personality.” 1 – Richard Foreman

Over the past ten years, the speed of information and the amount of it flowing around, and in and out of us has increased dramatically, and it shows no sign of slowing down. In agreement with Richard Foreman, sometimes I am excited by this new reality, but just as often it gives me a sense of cold “horror”. The dominant belief in our culture is that the more we find out, the more of an understanding we have of our things that matter to make a safer, democratic world. But is this happening with the current way we receive information, where our points of contact with the big issues around the world become mixed up with the points of contact with friends, employers, titillating-trivia and everything else imaginable, until what matters and what doesn’t can often seem undistinguishable in what can feel like living under a waterfall of information?

Rebuilding The Flattened, deals specifically with Twitter. It reels in everything I have ‘Tweeted’ as John Ledger since I joined in March 2012. The aim is to re-imburst them with substance, by bringing all the sentences together and placing them in a space where text isn’t constantly in flux;  to reinvigorate them with memory that has a continuity to it; and if it merely reads a pocket-sized riot of random sentences strung-together to other people, it certainly tells a story to me, reminding me of things I was feeling, and things that were concerning me, that would have otherwise remained forgotten in a cyberspace graveyard.

For me, the prospect of a society of ‘pancake people’ poses an overtly political dilemma: how can we make sense of things, and get keep hold of an understanding of what is the root cause of the problems in the world when, as Franco (Bifo) Berardi says “Subjected to the infinite acceleration of the info-stimuli, the mind reacts with either panic of desensitisation”? 2. Can we really act collectively to counter anti-democratic forces, extreme economic injustices, and climate change whilst we are subjected to this? The problem here is that disconnecting ourselves from cyberspace is neither the solution nor achievable for for most people.

Thus, there is certainly a political motivation behind making this book. A ‘cognitive mapping’3 (Fredric Jameson) of an info-drenched landscape that pulls us all into points of panic and delirium, with the intention of constructing a larger picture of these past years. In many ways this desire is what also motivates my large scale drawings, a way of working which  also more or less spans social media age also. A consistent hope that artistic endeavours contribute to helping us transcend the huge deadlocks civilisation has come up against in the 21st century.

http://www.blurb.co.uk/books/5122312-rebuilding-the-flattened

john