I recently had the opportunity to visit a new arts and cultural space coming online over the next few years in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Juxtahub is its name and it’s sure to greatly expand the arts and cultural offering in our little corner of the state. Impressively it seems to have a very active young and engaged board which I believe will increase the likelihood that it will be a success.
During the tour the very enthusiastic board members that hosted me and my colleague Tyrone Webb, displayed all the new digital toys available in the space. I found myself just plain lost with all the potential these tools have to offer as well as the imperceptibly of their interfaces and the jargon used to describe their functions. While all the many spaces and programming-offerings Juxtahub will offer were and are my greatest take away from my visit, it’s this technology interface piece that stands out in my mind as a real issue, one that permeates the arts in general. This challenge being that the tools that are meant to change our lives are being created and advanced by people with poor communication skills and an overall patronizing affect. I think this technical jargon and interface issue keeps many from diving into new and exciting tools. And in a way it guarantees that only the most astute techie-nerd-fanboy understands anything. This is not to mention the incredible costs attached to these tools. I mention these tools that we were shown in generalities here because I really didn’t understand their nuances but they were mostly virtual reality and artificial reality glasses and the software these devices used.
I shared my concerns with my buddy Tyrone, who assures me my fears are my own and that it will not stop the waves from crashing the shore, which much as such sentiments distresses me, I have to agree with. You see, I am very traditional. I’ve discovered in my approach to art-making is fundamentally antique. I make paintings and drawings. I prefer to work on real things using real materials and I regard most technology that is not explicitly a utilitarian instrument which advances my art production to be a hindrance . I am a creative luddite but I am also poor and want to build a sustainable art career, so I acknowledge that my issues with new technology are ones that I will have to work through. Nevertheless, the frustration is real and I don’t think unique to me. I don’t think its an accident that vinyl is making a revival, and that gay men who have feasted for nearly a generation on dating apps like Grindr want to join actual sowing circles, or that during the pandemic everyone wants to DIY their home-improvement, or learn to bake bread, or write their memoirs, or the great American novel. What all these experiences have in common I believe is something tactile that is very much real and not filtered through a preferred curated digital community.
I can remember when I was in graduate school I had friends who hated the idea of doing work about their cultures (i.e. race class or gender art), or who generally were revulsed by creating pretty work, mostly because that work was not coming from an authentic mental space. This hunt for some kind of pure authenticity kept me away from doing landscape paintings – which I love to do – or race and class based work – which is relevant and cathartic for me due to my background – for nearly 20 years; right up until a few years back when I made explicitly moves in those directions. What changed? Maybe I stopped caring about the authenticity question as interpreted through some imagined detractor, but perhaps I wanted the solace of making work that poured from me naturally. Having so much of our experiences filtered through the centrifuge of data and entirely too much choice, I think has left folks yearning for something, anything that makes them feel whole and valuable.
Tyrone, my good friend who by the way is a fucking Jedi Master where any technology is involved, told me most sincerely that all he wants to do is paint. Its as though he ripped that sentiment straight out of my heart because that’s all I want to do as well. I also want to be a good and ethical person who stands up for what is right loves and supports his friends and family and who is unafraid. While I regularly fall short of my lofty personal and career goals I’d at least like to form and be apart of communities who get it right about these tools we’re developing at a breakneck pass, remembering that they are meant to augment and enhance reality an not replace it with scared disillusioned nihilistic automatons like in some Matrix nightmare. maybe I’m just getting old and want the world to stop and slow down so I can catch up and breath a little.
Here’s my series “Off Road Perusing then Dinner at the Inn (Summer) and (Winter)”, installed in their new home.
Homeshake is another group my Pandora app, set on random, choose for me the other day and I am again surprised and delighted that whatever algorithm that site uses seems to know what I like so well. Its the perfect studio groove when you need something to make you tap you toe a bit without being so intrusive that you can’t think. There album “Midnight Snack” is my favorite of the ones I’ve sampled, and on that record “I Don’t Wanna” and “Faded” are my favorite tracks. Here’s are the YouTube videos of these tracks.
I’ve said this before in posts and I will say it again here. I am afraid of police. I should not be, but that fear will not likely go away soon. While I can let this fear immobilize me as so many fears of mine do I just have to keep moving along. That is because just like advance of technology, discrimination is not going away and one must do what they can to endure the situation. Endurance, that the essence of the black experience. Okay hope everyone is safe and I’ll post again soon. Be well.