Freefall

 

 

Housekeeping! I have a website now! It will serve as my more formal portfolio whereas this is for my endless words and thoughtz. If ya looking for just my finest photographs, nickseitz.com is the place for you.
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Above is a piece I never thought I’d make when I came into school. Photographs! Photographs must look like photographs! I must have said. Little did I know that the photographs that look like photographs are usually the boring ones.

With this blog and art in general I feel in the weird position of saying I really don’t know much while also hyping my own accomplishments in art. Like this!

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I’m quite proud of that image, and I’m quite proud of the series it comes out of. Now, I don’t think it’s a complete series and I don’t think it’s done and I don’t think it’s outstanding artwork, but man am I proud of the work I’ve done that went into it.

I used to spend a lot of time thinking and less time doing. I think this only gave me the benefit of avoiding making way more bad work, but not necessarily improving the work I was making. Mostly it just frustrated me. But the jist of artwork, even in an art world where the primary strength of artwork is conceptual, is doing so so so much work.

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And I’m not even entirely convinced at this point that as you grow and mature as an artist your success rate becomes higher. So far my experience sort of seems to be that I may make just as much unsuccessful artwork, but the successes are only getting better and better.

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I think besides a passion for your own artwork, the best thing you can walk away from art school with is the voices and nuances of every single professor and every single classmate you ever had. My digital imaging I professor, whose final project the color photos were made for,  will basically only ask two questions of photographs for however long we’re critiquing before giving his thoughts: “What are we looking at?” and then, ad infinitum, “what else?” My darkroom professor (whose final the black and white images were for) would say a lot of things about artwork, but the question was always “Why?” Again, ad infinitum.

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I think these questions drive at the very root of “do first, ask the questions later” art making: I think work springs intuitively and then we basically have to react to what’s come from our hands in order to make more, and in doing so, creative vision is understood and refined. I think pure intuition is this sort of central wellspring that will just endlessly spit out ideas and in being able to sort of self critique and self curate, we eventually narrow decisions from the limitless possibilities of things that we know how to/can be done, into some small set of decisions that are clear representations of who we are, what we’re interested in expressing, and with any small stroke of luck, what people are interested in looking at.

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So I’ve always been interested in the formal landscape, yes. But it was pretty early into last year that I realized that it was primarily the experience of being out in the landscape and making art that I was interested. That narrows it down a bit, but I only got that piece of information from doing a lot of work that ultimately wasn’t that interesting. I more or less dropped digital image making for primarily photographic work this year, for a variety of reasons, but I figured that out after making thousands and thousands of image I didn’t feel that great about.

Is film an integral part of my art making process? It could be, but I’ll probably need to make a lot more film images to know exactly why or why not. And if it is, I could see a lot more images like the one above that fully own the materials of film, because that’s part of it.

Materials, concepts, experience, everything starts to get slowly rolled into the mix more and more as first as intuition but then, through self critique, through going by what “feels right” ends up being a fully thought through and very explainable phenomenon.

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I used to read artists’ books and attend their lectures and see that their work was so clearly explained and was a neat/complete package that was well defined and contemplated and thought that if I could do the same thing for my own artwork, if I could write and think enough about it to the point that it sounded interesting, that then I would be good, that my artwork would be more interesting and engaging. But what I’m slowly sort of coming to realize is that no active artist really reaches a culmination where all their work and the things they want to express makes total sense, it’s just that any artist presentation is basically just a quick overview of wherever they are and what they’re thinking about (generally). And maybe that’s mind blowing to me, ten, twenty, thirty years behind whatever artist I’m watching speak or reading, but it’s all the same road.

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The concept of work work work work work and intuitive sensibilities applies to all visual art of course, but it’s applicable in a very strange and unique way to photography just because of how, on a certain level, easy it is to do. Based on what kind of camera and process you’re using, of course it’s going to be harder or easier, but at the end of the day, it’s not that hard to take a photograph. Even a 4×5 view camera and be picked up and learned without too much trouble in a week or two with some determination.

But the crucial element of photography which almost can’t be supported by anything but the intuition of the artist or the person critiquing the work is “how many photos were taken before this one?” For the black and white images posted in this blog and on my website, seven images, I shot 28 sheets of film, lost one sheet, developed 27, did test prints of around 12, printed 10 at 16×20, dropped one for space constraints, and then dropped two after my darkroom crit and only have 7 posted, and I consider 7 images from 27 a pretty remarkable haul. I plan on shooting more, though, and if I shoot a hundred more sheets all these may be scrapped. So it goes.

But the spirit and the things I learned from all the prior photos will be rolled into every new image made, because every subsequent photo is a reaction to the photos prior. It can’t be said in a critique “I can tell you didn’t do all the following things… Because…” because every photographer approaches things differently, but at a certain point, and after seeing a lot of good work and a lot of bad work, it begins to become evident when people are shooting far far far more than they’re putting up, and when they’re putting up far more than they really captured.

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My darkroom teacher describes good photography as not a method of seeing something, but seeing with something. This concept is of course applicable to all visual arts, but with photography it’s especially difficult and fun because everyone, even art photographers, have a relationship with photos that is primarily “I am showing you a picture of this because I want you to see the same thing that’s in front of me” that is to say, not pointing past the thing-ness of the subject, simply because the bulk of photos made do only that. The job of the visual artist, of the fine art photographer, is to make artwork that points not at a thing, but at a feeling, at an abstract concept, at a notion and a belief.

Similar concepts drove the color and the black and white work I’ve chosen to accompany this blog post. The thoughts and feelings that inspired this work are helplessly nebulous and I won’t attempt to transcribe them for fear of muddying either the written concept or the visual work with the other, should they not mutually compliment one another.

Life never really seems to stop turning everything over and over in nonstop freefall and I don’t think we ever really get a firm platform to stand upon to make full sense of things, but rather there are rare and beautiful glimpses of whatever we choose to believe is True or Beautiful or what have you. Maybe one can only make work referencing those moments, or maybe one may be blessed to have a brush on the canvas at that moment. I think artistic skill is an appreciation for the significance of these moments, and an increasingly acute technical ability to recognize them.

But the crux is work. Artwork. It’s been in the second half of the word all along!

What it’s like to be an art student

To give you a clearer idea of what my life has been like, here is everything I’ve done in the last month.

Last month I was either wrapping up or just starting my partner based documentary project with Devin, I can’t quite remember. Here it is:

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I started a project and desperately wanted to spend more time with it but basically got one shoot in where I was going door to door and asking to take portraits of strangers in their homes:

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I briefly went missing (to the broader body of people I know, I knew where I was) at the Eastern Shore of Virginia, mostly on a whim. I made some pictures:

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but mostly it’s currently unscanned film, and even that is gross and still unedited.

Me and my friends had one weekend to write, shoot, and edit a film. My very talented friend Devin Hein took point and killed it aesthetically, we were along for the ride. We used all the time, including the few minutes before critique, to make this:

I’ve been shooting a lot of 4×5 film for darkroom class and that’s just kinda been ongoing, but I used some the prints to make this wild photo sculpture:

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I second shot a wedding with my high school friend Paul Hairston (http://www.paulhairston.com/) in Charlottesville. Staying on my professional hustle as well.

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Professionally, I also did the photography for the various events of my high school’s homecoming, and have been making portraits of some of VCU’s police force on some scholarship money that my designer friend John Sampson (https://www.behance.net/JSampson) and I earned.

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I juuuuust finished (after the most frantic eight hour location shoot, and two sleepless nights in four days editing) a narrative film for my filmmaking studio.

Oh! Right. I almost forgot that every day I’ve been taking a medium format photo from a randomly generated word. My word today is “Informal” and it’s stressing me out. Here’s a buncha pictures from that.

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What elllse

Currently I’m taking formal portraits of my friends because I’m super tired of trying to come up with esoteric concepts for my work. I’m shooting it with the 4×5, but I took this digital photo to meter:

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I’m having a lot of fun with this project, which I’ve really needed.

For digital I’m doing some nonsense I don’t even know. We have to do a narrative project and somehow I ended up here:

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Then here:

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Then here:

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Then basically here which is a lot closer to what I want but I’m still not sure (I have to shoot way more for this project)

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So that’s about it all for the past month. If you can make sense of everything I’ve done in light of everything else please let me know because I haven’t had time to do so.

I’m dumping this all because last night I got some really good advice from the teacher and TA of my digital filmmaking studio. The TA said to me “You know, art students get a lot of shit like ‘oh, what are you going to do with your degree’ well, with my degree I’m going to do precisely nothing, but with four years of an artistic context to make all the mistakes I want and have a lot of free equipment and connections to make and tons of people interested in my success, I’m going to make a lot of really outstanding work, and that’s what counts.”

I get really really really really scared when people ask me what I’m going to do after college because for art students it’s not like a clear cut path of “oh I’ll shake hands and make an internship so I can get that sick salaried position eventually.” I don’t know, and maybe I’ll work a boring job for a while but the trajectory is to make the best creative work I possibly can to establish myself as a clear thinking and decisive creative mind, which is an important thing to have in any number of fields.

I don’t know what I’ll do after grad, I don’t know job wise exactly what I want beyond eventually teaching college (probably). But I guess I beg some sympathy for hard working art students, because in sheer amounts of work and output, I defy a lot of other people in “safe majors” to dump this raw output of labor and development in one month of one semester of one of the four years I’ll be at this school.

And now back to work!

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“Still Life”

This project was a non traditional still life assignment for digital photography studio. We spent time looking at artists who challenged the photograph as either a documentation of an event, a sculpture, we talked about where art lies: either in the object where the photograph serves as a documentation, or the actual photograph on the wall or screen. Basically, the assignment encouraged us to think about posing things for the camera and what that meant. We needed to turn in six photos. Here’s what I’ve got.

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I’d say this was one of my favorite out of the set. I spent a lot of time walking through the Fan collecting bricks from alleys and such and amassing them in this spot I’d found, a sort of secluded area in front of some trash cans that had an easily accessible fire escape directly above it, making it easy to get a very nice straight down view of whatever I set up in that space. I decided to follow the cracks in the pavement to make this organic shape out of a very hard and rigid building material.

I didn’t give much thought to the conceptual aspects of these photographs, basically it was about getting into a space, making intuitive decisions with with combination of material and space, making a photograph to document the event, tearing it down, and getting out before I turned too many heads.

Funny aside, while I was on the fire escape making some exposures, a woman came out of one of the doors and was like “what are you doing??” urgently. I told her I was making a photograph of something I’d set up below, she said that this was private property and I had to leave, and I’d say I’d be gone in a few minutes. I made a few more photographs, felt satisfied, and began to move the bricks out of the way. Right as I was finishing up she came back out and got irate again, saying the bricks were a hundred years old or something to that effect. I said I’d picked them up all over the fan and brought them here. She asked if I was an artist, I said yes m’am, and she said “Oh, well, I’m sorry. We’ve had burglars come in through this fire escape before and I’ve called the police numerous times, but I suppose if you’re an artist, that’s fine.”

I love that conversation!

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The least convincing piece for me was also unsurprisingly the first I made. There’s this tight alley I have to walk through every time I want to do my laundry, and the first idea I had for this project was to hang a lot of twine between the two walls and photograph that. This was just a weird in-between, though. I wish I’d had the time (and money to buy the twine) to fill up the entire alley and photograph that, I wish I’d integrated the space into the photograph a bit better, but what I was left with was this strange web that I couldn’t quite get directly above to photograph. Unfortunately I think the sculpture was much more interesting than the photograph, and this only serves as a poor documentation, whereas in the first photograph, the forced overhead perspective of the photograph was integral in understanding the piece. This piece just feels unengaging as a photograph.

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The cabinet photographed here says “move this”, which isn’t entirely evident at first. This was another instance in which the action was just so obvious to me that I had to do it- it was blatantly telling me what to do. I got my friend Will and we dragged it from the alley it was sitting in to a nearby alley with a dumpster. The whole thing sort of fell apart on the way, and the last photograph is obviously all of its pieces thrown into the dumpster. Will and I talked about artwork that has basically functioned as civil service, since on the reverse side of this cabinet someone had written basically “whoever own this shit please move it it’s in the way”. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I don’t know if that specifically is something I’d buy to move forward in my own work. But it was a great one off idea for this assignment, it was right there written in front of me.

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Here is my second least favorite photograph. It is a pile of sticks, delicately balanced, yes, but you can’t quite tell that from the photograph. It looks alright. But there’s not much going for it.

One of my favorite artists, Andy Goldsworthy, does these really incredible sculptures out in nature where he basically uses really meticulous and careful placement of natural things to create these really beautiful and ethereal sculptures. While all most of these photos were influenced by his work to varying degrees, I would say that this is the closest to a direct rip-off of concept, and unfortunately it’s not even close to nearly as good as he did it. But it was another photo for this assignment.

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Another photograph pertaining to an intervention and playfulness in a space, these were pages of books that I glued together end to end in a long scroll and hung over a window in a parking garage stairwell. That’s that. I sort of had the idea to cover a space with the pages of something, went from newspapers to this incredible set of free books I found at a thrift store, and rolled with it. I made a lot of these scroll things at home, brought them into the space, and just dove in. The photograph isn’t stellar, but it doesn’t really have to be either. These were a nice set of photographs just in terms of starting to flex the muscles of how to intervene in spaces, be quick and loose, and just make photographs that are unique and fun. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s certainly a skill that’ll come in handy later. Already has, actually, for a different project. But more on that later.

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I post this one last because it’s actually the most incongruous from the rest of the group. This image was created by pushing a block of ice off the top floor of a parking deck onto the floor below it. As the ice melted, I periodically traced the outside edge of the water with sticks of compressed charcoal. Evident in the photograph is the interaction of the water with the charcoal, causing it to fade and run together as the water flowed down the slight incline and eventually evaporated. After I ran out of charcoal, I left for a few hours and came back to photograph when all the water was completely evaporated.

This was the only incarnation of this idea, and it had an interesting characteristic of release of my inclination to have a high degree of control over everything in the frame, where it’s placed, how, why, etc. I released the content of the photograph to the action of the water running and evaporating. Now, I had an idea of how I thought this would look and obviously the selection of the location, method, compressed charcoal had a high influence on how the photo would turn out, but the action in the photograph was released to natural processes.

These set of photographs were very dissimilar from my normal approach to photography, but it’s a set of photos I enjoyed producing. I have already worked an installation aspect into a daily practice assignment I have as a direct result of working on this project, and I think it’s a method I won’t be quick to abandon moving forward.

Pillars of the Earth

This is a project I made a few weeks ago for my filmmaking studio and haven’t gotten around to writing about. It springs from a set of ideas which I’ve always wanted to explore but never had a good excuse within a project setting t0 explore.

The project was “tableau vivant”, which is a set of videos playing side by side with restrained or fixed perspective, all compositionally and thematically related. The project, embarrassingly enough, was also supposed to be silent, but since I only gave the assignment sheet a cursory read before diving in, I missed this bit of information. So enjoy the music! Fortunately it wasn’t obnoxious, but I still felt pretty stupid in critique sitting through a lot of silent films and thinking “hmm, I think this was supposed to be silent” right as the instructor started playing mine.

The basis of this video is my general fascination with the gears of society, specifically focusing in on the period of early morning as the machinery of a day starts moving again. Essentially, I have been hung up for the longest time over the idea of everything that goes into making society function as a whole that gets completely glossed over.

I worked in a cabinet factory over the summer, putting cabinets into boxes for shipping. There were maybe 30 people employed in the warehouse where I worked, and each person had a variety of functions with various specializations, but the general function of the warehouse was to take in flat packs of unassembled cabinets, store them, and when ordered by a customer, build them and ship them in a hasty fashion. I saw what we did as a sort of cell, where within the cell were various organelles or divisions of the warehouse, and everything had to coordinate and work in its specific fashion to get our product, cabinets, exported out of the cell and into the larger system.

I ate up biology and earth science in high school; if I weren’t studying to be an artist I’d likely be some manner of ecologist, environmental scientist, something to that effect. One thing that I love about science is how similar conceptual frameworks can be applied to a variety of scales: a cell is made up of functional units, and cells are functional units that make up a tissue which make up organs which make up organ systems which make up an organism which make up a population which make up an ecosystem which make up biomes with make up a planet. And the cell can be taken backwards to proteins, to molecules, to atoms, and so on.

And at each of these scales of magnitude there’s a massive performance going on, and it’s so beautiful. When I refer to the machinery of nature or the machinery of a civilization, I refer to this complex web of interactions and interdependencies, and the analogies are so easy to draw I can only view it as a massive set of conceptual machinery penned by whatever you choose to believe pens such a thing. In the body, liquid and solid waste is removed from the body in a system that is just as important as any other system in the body because in its absence all other processes cease to function. On a societal level, the same thing is true. Every order of social function with slowly begin to shut down if the plumbing stopped flowing and the garbage stopped being picked up.

So I look at power lines and telephone lines and I think of equivalent structures of the human body. And just as a biologist can delve endlessly, down to the atomic level, of how energy flows through our body, there is an equivalent structure which carries power and data all over the country, from pieces of coal or uranium or natural gas and through a system which takes thousands of specialized people to operate, from the power plant operators, the people that maintain the infrastructure, to the people that make sure its routed correctly, to the person my roommate calls at Dominion when we get a bill for power we didn’t use. It’s a massive system that turns my laptop on and shows me what I write.

At the factory where I worked, I certainly had a lot of time, or at least free mental space, to think about the nature of what I was doing. There was that cell-like nature, but we were a unit of the “social machinery” that built houses: we made the cabinets. We interacted with other units all over the world: every time we unloaded a container from China I thought about how these cardboard boxes likely hadn’t seen the light of day since being on the other side of the world, and all the machinery that was necessary to transport them from the Chinese factory, to a port, over an ocean, through another port, back over the United States in some distance, then at our loading bay being unloaded and sorted and built and distributed to homes. Incredible (at least it held my attention for a few weeks before I just felt bored and miserable).

So what interests me more specifically? I guess on the one hand it’s the massive faceless scale of everything that happens to keep society ticking. On the other hand, I am so interested in every time there’s human intervention in the system, why, and where.  This video is a totally first blush, sketchlike inquiry into the idea, and I could spend a whole career fleshing out the ideas further and probably still feel like I hadn’t reached the bottom of it. But that’s what I’m rambling with, and I’d love to pick it apart more.

Collage: Darkroom Assignment #2

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This was a strange piece to make, very dissimilar in inspiration, process, and form from anything I’ve made before.

The assignment was collage, and that’s basically it. As with many assignments in art school that aim to encourage the process of art-making, the prompt is a jumping off point to encourage personal inquiry, creative problem solving, and refinement and presentation of personal vision. In fact, although some teachers give formal rubrics and expectations for their assignments, I’m halfway convinced that these guidelines exist, in some cases, only to be broken. As if the second that a student has an idea that strays outside the guidelines of a project, when they decide to go with that idea even if it disregards the assignment, that’s the moment art teachers strive to get students to feel.

Art school assignments also usually start with a compendious presentation of artists historical and contemporary working within the similar line of thought as the topic- a quick barrage of topics and forms to get people started and reacting.

The presentation that my teacher had prepared for us was almost an overview of artists and mentalities that I cannot stand. Artists that do perfectly fine work, that are esteemed in their field, that deserve all the success that they have earned by virtue of their clear and relevant artistic vision, but all the same artists that I would rather not spend time looking at or talking about because I find their work detestable.

Collage artists, throughout history, have dealt primarily in appropriation. They make work out of the material of other things, directly pulling from the conduits of contemporary thought. Their work is highly reactionary and emblematic in certain ways of the thoughts pertinent to their time- after World War I their work was about the failure of all classic structures and the absurdity of the world, after World War II and into the 60s it was about popular culture, increasing commerciality of the world, and more recently they have dealt with war, the internet, image culture, and even more commodification of daily life. The process of the collage artist is generally a negative reaction by way of amplification and elevation- by discussing these ideas in an “art space” and going out of their way to highlight the things they do not like, this opens up dialog on contemporary value.

This is almost directly in opposition to two values I strive for in my artwork- the artist’s hand and process, and glorification of the ideas the artists aspires to- the negative is dealt with by specifically not dwelling in it. So I make work glorifying that which I think is worth it, what I want to live up to, not spending more time than I already do on the things that bother me. And I do this in a process which deals directly with raw material, trying to find transcendence of material, create high levels of creative refinement, and so on. So, it is understandable that a medium which deals with things that bother the artist by using those things as the material might bother me.

The most opposite reaction to this I could think of, the clearest thing I could summon that said “I do not agree with this approach” was to draw photographs.

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I could spend an extremely long time talking about every single iteration of the process, because I worked a hell of a lot on this project and basically invented a process as I went along. However, I think the more interesting discussion through all of this and what I’ll spend my time on is the process in which I made these pieces.

This project was an absolute mess of themes. It has a lot of reference to pre-chemical photography light assisted drafting wherein people used lenses, ground class, camera obscuras, and a whole mess of other forced-perspective techniques in order to basically draw a scene in perfect perspective. It has references to the dialog of the artist’s hand in photography. It touches on reproduction and uniqueness of images. It goes all over the abstraction-representation spectrum, it even has slight references to plein-air “pavilions”, in which artists would sit and either paint by observation or use perspective assisting devices to basically make their own versions of the painting envisioned from that spot. It very very very directly is a material study of the capabilities and intrinsic qualities of charcoal, tracing paper, ink, photo paper, and large format view cameras.

I knew I was taking on a lot, but I basically had a clear idea of what I wanted the final product to look like.

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It basically fell completely apart with that image at the top there.

I laughed when I had the idea for that print, which will happen sometimes when I have an idea that’s so good and so simple that I just find it funny I hadn’t thought of it before. I had been tracing the images on the back of the ground class of the 8×10 camera and then inking the outlines and adding value in charcoal underneath the the tracing paper, and I was going to display that in addition to the actual print photo from the camera. I would print by laying the ink drawing and charcoal backing directly down on the photo paper, covering it in glass to flatten the pile, and exposing it to light. The idea was hilariously simple to me. I did it as soon as I could and then had a bit of a break down.

I had no idea what to do with this, because it was funny and unique and interesting but it wasn’t beautiful in the way that I was expecting, it didn’t feel graceful and transcendent and worst of all I had no idea what it meant. It was like I took just about everything I had been thinking about and crashed it all into one piece of 8×10 RC paper that just wasn’t as interesting as all the ideas I had had up to that point.

I realized what I basically was doing was drawing a negative, so I used the paper negative and tracing paper under a lightbox to actually try to produce, as accurately as possible, a negative in charcoal. I was doing this two nights before the critique.

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When I printed it, I sort of frowned. I felt like I threw everything I had at this and it was still well out of my reach. Tackling so so so many ideas wasn’t impossible, but if I put up some iteration of that last bit of image and tried to talk about everything I had thought about in the lead-up to those, it wouldn’t make one bit of sense- those last images were interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the process.

I felt like I’d done two and a half weeks of experimentation had absolutely nothing in the way of a finished product, so I did some feeling sorry for myself and general moping, and then hunkered down and basically said “ok, I have to put something up.” Sifting through everything I had, I realized that I had definitely taken a huge bite out of these ideas and the problem I had was not that I hadn’t worked enough. So I decided to put very nearly everything up, from beginning to end.

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I put it up somewhat intuitively. My first instinct was to put everything in a line in a chronological fashion, but I was limited on space, so I had to stack things, but I wanted to keep things orderly. Without too much of a system, I put things up as the process made sense to me- it reads left to right roughly as a chronology, but also as the evolution of the idea, the placement makes reference to forms, to the importance of ideas, to the nuance of the process. Without being over-thought, I worked to render the process and the ideas I’d had throughout the project on the wall.

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I was incredibly worried about critique. I never would’ve thought my finished piece would’ve looked like this, I’d completely failed to put the things up I’d wanted to put up, and the idea I put up on the wall felt last ditch because I didn’t make something that I felt was finished, that I could put up and be entirely confident that I’d fully realized everything within that scope. I was worried that this would be picked up on, that it would be considered sketches and too broad and generally unrefined.

For the last hour of critique of others’ pieces and then right at 5, the end of our studio time, I was in an incredibly sour mood as I realized that my piece was not going to get talked about. That was a thousand times worse than anything that I imagined anyone saying in critique- all the worrying I’d done prior to critique, I just had a few more hours to do. It was terrible to me. Fortunately, my professor said he’d briefly critique me and another student’s work that also didn’t get to go.

The critique went extremely well, surprisingly so. He said, and I swore at first that he was being sarcastic, that the way in which the pieces were hung was extremely effective. He said that through a lot of the intuitive decisions I’d made were working to communicate, strangely, everything that I’d thought about while working on the project. Even coincidences of the form, things that I picked up on while mounting it, but never could’ve anticipated while working on them, worked to illustrate things incredibly well. I walked into critique with a hunch that I’d made the best out of my circumstances, and I walked out somehow incredibly reassured that the decision I made was the best possible realization of my ideas within the scope of time and project.

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This project was a massive journey out on a limb and I feel it paid off, but in an uneasy way. The only thing it reaffirmed that I already knew is that the best way to make good work is to work and work and work and work and do difficult things and never lean back on a project. Even when there’s not a clear aim, keep working. But what scares me is that I was working into a dark tunnel- I had no idea what was going to come at the end of it, and other times I’ve done this things have gone very, very poorly for me. Both in life and in artwork.

I suppose that is just the nature of art as life distilled into an certain material element and broadcast for consumption by others. We can’t always control what happens, we can’t control how people will react to things, but the best way to get anything incredible done is to follow passion and curiosity and do it with ferocious and convicted work.

I swear, sometimes it feels like I’ve sweat and toiled and look back and reflect on what I’ve done and I end by writing a horribly trite and tired cliche, but I’ve arrived at it through the most backwards way possible instead of like, a Reader’s Digest.

But that’s a conversation for a different day.

Summer 35 part 2

Ton of project write-ups coming very soon, but I realized that I never posted the second half of the 35 from this summer, so I’ll do that now. Talk to y’all soon!

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something something the internet

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I would call this the documentation and writeup for my first Digital Imaging assignment if I wasn’t in a horribly pessimistic place over the images I made and the class itself.

There was a conceptual artist (an artist whose primary medium is ideas, and any physical manifestation of the artwork is downplayed or secondary to what the piece makes you think about) who started his career in the 1960s named Mel Bochner. One thing he felt charged with, one thing he wanted to avoid in his work was to “add to the furniture of the world.” This was in response to minimalist and abstract expressionist sculpture, which was pure form: Bochner swung back around to pure concept because it seems that in part he was fed up with just adding to the deluge of form.

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I know how to make an image. I know what it means to control every aspect of the frame, to draw out from a scene a beautiful picture and then refine it in photoshop to a point where it’s all but a perfect representation of the picture I visualized before making the first exposure. But as far as pictures on the internet are concerned, who cares?

I’ve talked about this before, I know I have, but something about starting in my Digital Imaging studio has just reinforced this to an almost frustrating degree. My teacher mentioned that there are 300 million images uploaded to facebook every day and 400 million sent through snapchat. Checking my snapchat score now, the number of snapchats I’ve sent and received, over 11,000 images lasting less than ten seconds each have passed through my phone. My Lightroom catalogue on my Mac is hovering around 29,000 images, and my computer at home with my catalogue from high school sits around 34,000, and I’ve probably kept and worked with one of fifty images sitting on my hard drive (not to mention the likely 15-20,000 images taken for commercial purposes). What does that leave me with? Maybe 800 digital photos that I’ve spent time with.

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I still like these images, it just feels like they’re an absolute dead end in terms of placing worth and time into developing this line of thought. It feels like there are endless exciting things I can do with the physical medium of photography, but making work which ends up as a digital file and shared over the internet feels like a mundane route at best.

I’ve started thinking about my VMFA Fellowship application for the 2015-2016 year. Last year I put together a good distillation of where I was, it had some nice landscape pictures and an artistic statement which served as a reduction of my mentality at the time, and although the images were decent they were, well, just images. Within the last few days I was finally able to start thinking of doing something besides plain digital images for my application this year and it no longer felt like an insurmountable uphill battle.

I think for too long I was sucked in by the mentality that the solution to my problems with images over the internet was to make better images. But throwing seven images periodically into a sea that gets added to by the billions daily, I can’t help but be a bit skeptical that there’s anything worthwhile to take pictures of, no matter how good the pictures are, to be posted online.

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I may as well mention the “assignment” that these photos were “taken for” while I’m at it.

The assignment was titled “hashtag everything” and as soon as I got the assignment sheet it set off all the red flags. Essentially, there was a list of hashtags (#readymade, #cat, #nostalgia, #graffiti) and we were tasked with taking photos that represented (literal interpretation or otherwise) these hashtags and posting them on a shared tumblr for all three sections of Digital I.

Almost immediately the whole project sort of tipped its hand: since the project was started in the first week of school, 680 posts have been made to the blog, and although there are some nice images, the whole thing collapses into an irreconcilable pile of mixed aims, crossed context, just an absolute internet mess. All of the images in this blog post were posted to that tumblr, but no matter how good these photos are, even if I was ten times better at making a digital image, it would still be meaningless within the deluge of images.

The hashtags are intended to provide some semblance of order, to provide a cataloging system in order to reconcile the set into some sort of order, but even within each hashtag there can be the varied aims of either taking the hashtag literally, ironically, or just hashtagging that particular thing for no reason. In short, the hash tag doesn’t inflict any sense of order on a set of photos. A one word method of organizing content is a reduction of language and methods of communicating information, eliminating any sort of nuance or subtlety. The absolute mess of lack of context completely ruins any sort of singular image posted in the context-less context.

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I’ve always been inclined to try and learn from every experience I have the privilege of, well, experiencing. Some things just suck, but especially when it comes to school I try to get a little something out of every class I take, and especially art classes I’ve alway been a bit upset with people that just write off anything a class has to teach wholesale for whatever reason. I’m resisting very strongly the urge to do that with this class as it shapes up to be “Digital image culture 101″ but the only thing I’m getting from it the more I think about it is how abhorrent I am to so many of the effects of the internet. Not that it’s evil, just that it’s something I need to grow away from, not closer to.

The most frustrating thing is how seemingly important it is to be able to harness it in some capacity. I always came down on the side of the tree makes a sound when it falls in the wood by its lonesome, but there’s definitely a thread of thought that says if something isn’t broadcast, whether or not it actually happened is basically irrelevant. On the inward-outward spectrum, this school of thought would come down very definitively on the outward side of things: the degree to which something exists and matters is the degree to which it is disseminated and shared.

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I guess the problem that I have with this is that it doesn’t feel true. I have only lived life inside of my own skin, and no matter how much I talk to people, no matter how much I post on social media or read about other people on the internet, the experience of being Nick Seitz has always resided between my two ears and behind my eyes. Artwork comes out of my mind and hands and serves as a method of connecting me to myself, to those around me, to the outside world, but ultimately it’s most important to myself, because that’s where I have to spend all of my time.

I feel like I have to bring this up in such extensive detail because in some capacity I feel like there are views in the art world swinging around to documentation and dissemination of work being of paramount importance.  Like it’s critically important to be able to preserve in some facet the artwork and put it online so that others may get an idea of you and your artwork: the artwork must live for documentation because that’s what gives it some lick of immortality, the ability to outlive the moments in which it exists before it was discarded, damaged, used up. After all, what’s the importance of artwork, of anything, once it ceases to exist and be accessible for consumption by others?

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I’ll refer back to “my head is the only place I’ve ever permanently occupied.” I think inherent in the internet is some grandeur of permanence and escaping of corporeal realities by spreading of thought, of visual artifacts of one’s life. But I think that humans are more fallible than we give ourselves credit for, and ultimately I think there’s little that’s more important than making the experience as felt by you the best one possible. Making artwork, living, creating a personality that is informed by the things you’re able to put online, it eventually seems to distort the experience of life into the mentality of how can things be shared instead of experienced, how can things be documented instead of felt?

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these thoughts and of course there’s the enduring irony of everything I write and post on this blog about the internet that it is on the internet. Maybe it’s redeemed by getting only a couple hundred visitors a month if that, maybe not. Maybe I’d have a different philosophy if masses and masses of people cared about what I did and what I thought. In the meantime, I’ll be focusing all of my energy in smiling when I walk down the street, in holding onto that moment of satisfaction when I finish a project that I love before I even show it to anyone. Of waking up and being excited about living another day. Of enjoying those private moments and thoughts that can’t and shouldn’t be shared, the sum total of which is the existence of each person separate from every other person on this earth of seven billion people making one billion images a day.

 

“These are mine, they are yours”

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These are the prints created for my first darkroom project, which I have decided to title “These are mine, they are yours.”

The assignment was to create abstract photographs which don’t represent anything other than abstract form. We were instructed to only use the enlarging paper and the light from the enlarger, and any decisions from therein about how to affect the paper in the developing process, manipulation of the paper as an object, and installation for critique were up to us. But the baseline was, no images, nothing placed on top of the paper to make an outline.

As much as I’ve generally shied away from completely non-representational abstraction and kept my work largely based in imagery, this sort of thing is strangely up my alley. In high school especially I loved to manipulate things before the camera in order to make abstraction, affecting light in a physical manner to be photographed by the camera. This is very much a similar process, except I was playing basically with the chemistry of darkroom paper in order to make the abstraction.

In some ways, this is essentially abstract expressionist photography. Jackson Pollock explored the formal extents of painting, that is, what is painting capable of that no other mediums are, or are hard pressed to emulate? He answered this with size, viscosity, extreme gesture and paint material based abstraction. Similar experiments are happening in this project: I created these images in a brief and basic inquiry into “what can I get enlarging paper to do that no other medium will be able to really do?”

But, ultimately, these were just images. Abstract, yes, but they were images in the sense that they existed on an 8×10 sheet of enlarging paper and were meant to be looked at as such. We were charged by our professor the think about how to “get prints off the wall”, to push past basic forms of photography as looking at prints on the wall and being done with them after looking away.

I could not, for the life of me, figure out a good way of “getting them off the wall”. I liked looking at them. Any kind of idea I had for sculptural presentation felt weird and foreign and “tacked on”. When one idea fell through, I reverted to my “safe thinking mode” which is basically just staring very intently at the problem and maybe writing a bit. Since it was during a class work period, my instructor asked me to get in the darkroom and actually work. I had no direction and I was a little frustrated because I like to spread out and work alone in the darkroom, but I grumbled and got into it.

I kept doing what I was doing, lacking a better direction. I made more images and looked at them and made some more and looked at them. It occurred to me that the natural place for these prints was in someone’s hands. Furthermore, since all of these were all very unique experimentations (I never really set out with any print trying to duplicate previous results, but always add something new and try to find some interesting new effect) I felt that all of them were strong and were worth looking at individually. Finally, looking and thinking about everything I had made, I thought “I probably have enough for everyone in the class to keep one.”

That was sort of the “aha” moment that informed every finer point from there on. My instructor later described what I thought was a similar phenomenon: in art, oftentimes you have to start generally, work a lot, and slowly and intuitively narrow it down to one “thing”, be it a concept, image, emotion, some decisive thing which is the core of the whole project, and from there expand it back outwards so that all the details are pinned down. But you can’t really pin down details without the big picture.

I came up with a body of 17 prints that I was happy with (there were a lot of duds discarded along the way) and laid them out on a table. At the beginning of my critique I said “There are enough prints here for everyone, so pick them up and look at them and pass them around and when we’re done you can keep the print you have.” The effect was essentially how I intended: everyone picked up a print, studied them, poured over the details, compared them to others’, talked about how they were made, but there was a personal relationship with each print.

This was a very satisfying project in that it feels the closer to how I want my work to be shared than any other project I’ve done, than any way I’ve yet made and shared photos. Each print is an incredibly unique thing: even if I used the same chemicals, same motions, same times, I would see very different results on each one because of the unpredictable nature of how these liquids run together and dilute and affect the paper. I put care, time, creative energy into each one, and curated each photo so that I was quite happy with the whole set. But instead of just presenting these and then filing them away in a folder for the sake of reminiscing, in this project was the act of release, the act of sharing and giving a piece of myself to my classmates and instructor. The hope is that they would have a similar sort of interested and invested relationship with the unique object that I’d had, but the beautiful thing is that my control and involvement stops with the act of giving it away.

I’m very skeptical of this strange sort of “loneliness in a city full of people” mentality of art, of life in general actually. Without anything to compare it to, really, I’m hesitant to say that culture has “drifted” in this direction, but it seems to me that especially because of the internet we are disposed to breadth over depth, to simplification and streamline and reduction. Physically giving my classmates these prints felt better than any picture I’ve ever put online for the sake of faceless users to look at and have, at most, feedback of incrementing a value. Oooh, I’ve got xxxx likes, xxxxx reblogs, xxxxx whatever. The quantification implies a sort of reduction of the infinite complexity of social interaction into a algorithm. It feels inane to me. I’d rather have one incredible friend than a vast number of a people I sort of know, I’d rather have one person hold a print of mine and say “thank you for giving this to me, I love it.” than one hundred million points of data that say someone responded favorably to this image.

Summer Film, part 1

Wow, it’s been well over a month since I’ve posted anything. I’ll say a few words and then post the first set of film photos from my summer.

I didn’t like a lot of the pictures I took this summer. I started the summer with grand ambition of using the huge amount of free time I’d have to not only take pictures, but take great pictures. Meaningful pictures.

That ended up not being the case. I started out summer with some hiking and some picture taking, got some stuff I liked decently, and had an idea for a project I wanted to work on all summer. I wanted to develop a series over the entire summer and come out with one really solid personal project. However, what ended up happening is that after working 40 hours a week at a horribly monotonous job, all I wanted to do was nothing. The awful mental filter of “I don’t know if I can take pictures that are good enough right now for xxxxxxxx reason” set in, and going out to take pictures always got pushed to tomorrow, next weekend, and so on.

I had an incredible vacation, a road trip across the country with my family to a lot of really stunningly beautiful places in the west. This was nice because it sort of kicked me back into the basic image making mentality: there was no way I was going to make any good conceptual work in the American west in the two weeks I was there, so I just tried to make good images.

The images turned out decently well, but didn’t mean anything. My frustrations in trying to make them mean something have more or less prevented me from finishing editing them and posting them. I would think “these images are fairly nice, but they aren’t so nice that they can “stand” without a concept” and put off posting them. I’ve been picking at editing them now and then, and they’ll be up soon.

The 35mm camera I’ve used since high school (and was actually my dad’s camera that ended up in my hands through a mildly interesting story) has had a mis-aligned mirror since I started using it, and the pictures rarely turned out in good focus. It was repaired about halfway through summer and I bought a 96 exposure pack of cheap film to test it and just to shoot and have fun. 35mm doesn’t lend itself to the type of work I like to do anyway, so I used it to take informal, fun pictures. Pictures of my friends. Of the places I went. Of the things I thought were neat.

I want to switch to film as much as possible for personal work, and I may make a more extensive post detailing the reasons why I like shooting film, but for now enjoy these images. They’ve been selected out of the 72 pictures I had developed, edited and spotted, and I’ll post them in two batches.

 

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Facebook and Fractured Personality

note: on pieces of writing posted on this blog from now on I’ll be focusing on brainstorming, drafting, and revising several times before posting to make posts slightly more coherent. I’d previously written posts in one sitting without much structural revision and had gotten comments that some of the posts were rambling and hard to follow. I hope you like the new form!

Goodbye Facebook
A few days ago I deactivated my Facebook account. I opened my Facebook account in February of 2008 and I’ve used it steadily since. It has followed me through the period of the most rapid and dramatic social change of my life, from middle school through high school and then my first year of college. In the past six and a half years of using Facebook, there were things that bothered me, but I’ve always used it, and I haven’t really been able to consider it from an outside perspective until now. Up until a few days ago, it’s been a constant presence in my life. One that, despite its faults, I was unwilling to rid myself of.

In the news recently has been a story that Facebook was conducting research earlier in the year in which they altered what kind of stories showed up in users’ news feeds, displaying either stories that were generally more upbeat or downbeat in tone, in order to see if this had any bearing on the tone of the things the user posted. I find the concept that Facebook would perform research on their user base without their informed consent troubling, and that was initially why I decided to take some time off from Facebook. However, it was the conversations, thoughts and experiences which arose from this decision which cemented my desire to get away for an extended period, if not permanently.

In the spring semester of my freshman year of college, I noticed that I was using Facebook fairly often. I would post something funny about my life every day or two, keep up conversations over the messenger, and reflexively grab at my phone to read about my friends’ lives when I had a lull in my day. Some of my friends took notice that I was posting or on the messenger a lot and would joke with me about it. I sort of dialed it back not wanting to become too wrapped up in this online mentality. I considered quitting cold turkey, but decided that the ability to keep up passively with others’ lives and passively update others about mine was ultimately a good thing and I should focus on moderating usage as not to be consumed by it. I started using Facebook less over time and everything was going well. I still used Facebook, but I felt less eaten up by it.

The recent news of the research Facebook did struck a nasty chord with me, however. Additionally, I was also becoming less interested in what was on Facebook: all my college friends were removed from that explosive amount of social contact that is college, so everyone was either posting about how bored they were or not posting anything. I decided that from then until the start of school would be a good time to take a step back from this service and see if I could “kick the habit” in response to the unease and apprehension of the news of the study.

Quitting & Withdrawal
I posted that I’d be leaving Facebook, left the post up for the remainder of the day, and deactivated my account. However, seeing what came up on the deactivation page, my apprehensions only grew:

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The fact that they included this in their deactivation screen was troubling to me in and of itself because it felt like they were begging me to stay (why does Facebook care if I continue using its free services?), but the wording of the message is severely twisted the more I thought about it. “Your friends will no longer be able to keep in touch with you. Here are pictures of the friends you’ll be losing.”

On its face, it just seemed like a stark lie. One person in that line-up is one of my closest friends who I talk to almost every day, see several times a week, and certainly will not “miss me” or “not be able to communicate with me”. However, there is also some truth in what Facebook is saying. One unfortunate and grimly timed indication of this is that within a few hours of deactivating my account one of my friends’ father died. I don’t see this friend that often, and we aren’t so close that I received a text or a someone let me personally know, but I was talking to a mutual friend of ours and it came up. They had posted about it on Facebook to let everyone know without having to send out thousands of messages, and I had missed it. While I was saddened by this news, I couldn’t help but put it in light of withdrawing from Facebook. There are things that happen on Facebook, are announced or said or posted on Facebook that happen entirely outside of day to day life: it’s become more than an extension of what happens, and a social sphere unto itself.

While it seems easy to call Facebook a representation of one’s life and a method of communicating with friends en masse, that doesn’t seem entirely accurate to me. Someone’s Facebook page (and their broader online presence) is ultimately more than a reflection of themselves. The act of curation and public display is an act of creation, so someone’s Facebook page is a personality and essence which draws material from their life, but is ultimately separate from it. Viewing other people’s curated and constructed page influences how I think about them since it’s so hard to separate that thing which they’ve created from their actual life and personality. Knowing that what I do and what I think can be funneled into this online presence which affects how people perceive me has gradual but likely massive effect on my personality, and has led to the evaporation of private mental space, or the ability to simply think about and do things for myself and not wondering if this is something I should broadcast, something I should add to my online personal likeness.

Digital Bodies
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Although I’m not taking the step of permanently deleting my Facebook page (which I hear you almost have to hire a lawyer to do), I was reading about the process and read that it’s generally a good idea to download an archive of your data. I was interested to see what this looked like, and after downloading the almost 300mb file I opened it to see the above screen. A starkly, simply laid out page with just about everything I’d ever posted to Facebook.

What was most interesting for me to read was the messages. According to the file size of the message archive, I’ve generated over 12,000 printed pages of messages sent and received through Facebook, since it’s been my primary instant messaging client for some time. Looking through mundane messages exchanged in the past, as well as all the wall posts, old photos, and just generally antiquated things I’ve posted online, what I realized is that Facebook is incredibly skilled at getting you to think that it’s a clear conduit of information. It seems that Facebook wants you to think that you’re floating along in the same stream of time as real life, and just as you witness things happen and then disappear in real life, the same thing happens on Facebook: things come and go in your “News Feed” and you see and then forget about things from your friends’ “Timelines”. Facebook doesn’t seem to be geared towards profile building, where you are able to see things your friends have set up and intended to be absorbed at once, they’re geared towards the experience of the real time, to make your friends’ events and thoughts and posts come and go just like experiences do in real life. Facebook seems to want your friends’ profiles and online personalities to be almost as vivid as they are in real life, and Facebook itself is simply an impartial platform allowing all of this to happen, rather than controlling the delivery to be as effective as possible.

So, being able to look back at almost everything at once, seeing everything I’ve ever posted to Facebook outside the context of the UI, it was easier to understand the fallacy of the “real time” of Facebook. Everything is there and continues to be. Everything has worked towards an online persona that I’ve meticulously and subconsciously built up, and as I looked at this white screen that was the sum of my usage of Facebook, I was faced with the uncomfortable question of, how much of this was actually me posting online, and how much did I turn into the things that I tried to make myself because I thought it would look good on this “representation” of who I “was”?

I think my primary issues with Facebook and other services like Twitter or Instagram are passive communication, content delivery, and the illusion of real time. As opposed to something like Skype, these services don’t connect you directly to your friends (serving as, say, an evolution of talking face to face and being in the same technological lineage as the telegraph, phone, email, texting, etc.) Facebook is a new communication model which allows you to broadcast things to your friends or your followers all at once. and since there needs to be some form of organization. Thus, Facebook is in control of how content (the content being, basically, your friends’ lives) is shown to you, and they’re ultimately trying to refine the process to be as interesting and engaging as possible. Thus, Facebook has some control over your socialization and how you take in and think about people. And it’s done all in real time as to not allude to the contrivance of the whole process: it’s simply a part of life.

Ultimately, I think we are what we spend our time and energy on, so it’s not a stretch for me to imagine that many people give very little energy or thought to their facebook page and don’t ultimately let it affect them that much, which I think is especially the case with older folks who didn’t grow up with the reality of the internet. What I hope to accomplish with this writing is to encourage some critical thought on the principles of Facebook and, furthermore, the nature of social media, creating an online persona for yourself, and what that ultimately means. My aim isn’t to disparage social media or say that everyone should quit, I don’t even exactly have proof that Facebook has malicious intent or ever will: I’m simply terrified of the idea of a service which revolves around displaying what my friends try to be, and ultimately causes me to do the same.

Life Integration
The day after I deactivated my Facebook account, I was about to drive home from work and wanted to listen to music on Spotify, a service which I paid $10 a month for, and had for almost two years. I usually just signed in with my Facebook credentials, which makes sense because it shares the music you listen to (which, side note, is yet another way I passively tried to make an identity for myself: by being somewhat conscious of what music Facebook said I listened to). Regardless, I figured the Facebook login wouldn’t work since I deactivated my account,  so I waited until I got home, figured out what email was associated with the account, and logged back in with that.

Hours later, I got a text from a friend that said “your Facebook is back: it reactivated because you logged into Spotify and it’s sharing the music you’re listening to.” Despite it being possible to turn off the sharing feature, I found out (after some reading into the topic) that it was impossible to “unhook” your Spotify account from your Facebook account: despite paying for the service, I needed an activated Facebook to use it. I cancelled my Spotify account and am looking for a new music streaming service now, but this was another instance which was deeply disquieting to me.

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Thinking back to the screen displayed when I tried to deactivate my account, the tying in with other services, the near impossibility of thoroughly deleting your Facebook account, it’s very clear that Facebook wants to attract new users and hold onto their current users as tightly as possible. This is accomplished by integrating with a variety of aspects of your life, being an attractive and non intrusive software which you simply use, being well designed and easy to use, but they have one thing which is a bigger draw than everything else: all your friends use it.

The message is clear on the screen displayed when trying to leave Facebook: “This is a party, this is a gathering, and all of your friends are already here. You’ve already allowed Facebook to integrate with your life, and if you leave, you’re leaving the party. Why would you want to do that? What harm are we possibly doing? You’re just seeing what your friends are up to.” It feels important to say that Facebook is a publicly traded, for-profit corporation that doesn’t charge or even nudge its users to spend money to use their services, and they’re wielding and offering something that is so incredibly precious to the human experience: Friends. Socialization. People caring about what you do and say and think.

I’m not a luddite, and I hold no illusions that we’re not moving towards a society in which how you handle your affairs and what you post on the internet will be vitally important to remaining part of the vital edge of society. Businesses, artists, writers, manufacturers, it doesn’t seem to matter. Whatever old model of self promotion and advancement by word of mouth and print media existed before no longer does: people of the future will thrive or fail by their ability to reach out to others by the medium of the internet, and as the internet grows up with my generation, we’re working out the kinks of what that means. The questions I submit right now is, How will you consume the content that you consume? How will you connect with people? And, most pertinent to everything I’ve just said, will you allow a company to control how you connect to your friends, how you promote and think about yourself? What is ultimately more important: Who you are, or how you look online?

My Life
It’s also worth stating that Facebook played off of some of the more negative aspects of my personality specifically, and this is part of the reason I’d wanted to deactivate it for a long time. While these are things I struggle with, I certainly imagine that others may have similar tendencies.

The vast amount of information people would post and the opportunity to chat one on one with people encouraged my awful habit of over thinking things which ought not be over thought, like social dynamics. In high school especially I felt that if I thought hard enough about something, I could figure out what to do in a social situation, or what someone was thinking or feeling, just by what people said.

The persistent nature of the information on Facebook also fed into my compulsive tendency to dwell in the past. For better or worse, I’ll often consider things in the past and compare them to my present circumstances. While this sometimes encourages positive growth, it has also led to discontent and frustration in some aspects of my life.

Finally, the ability to broadcast my thoughts and the things I was doing and even, later on, my photography, simply stroked my already large ego. When you post something to Facebook, it feels like you’ve got an audience of everyone you know, and, as stated before, it makes that tendency to try to create and maintain an image for yourself so much stronger. My life is not the sum total of the things that I post on Facebook, and it seems far more logical to actually truly connect to people and have their opinions stem from that rather than trying to infer what people will think of me based on how they read what I post.

I think it’s important to end this post by saying that these, ultimately, are my experiences with Facebook and again, it’s up to each person to decide how they should use a service. It’s not my place to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, only to present my own experiences and things I find to be good, with a gentle encouragement to think critically about the pertinent aspects of one’s life. I’ll be taking a long hiatus from Facebook, and I hope it sticks.

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