Friday, February 18, 2011

YOU Know Where to Find Me

(Snapped on 1/26/11)

As I mentioned last post, putting my house on the market was instrumental to kicking off my big purge of 2011. After tackling all the obvious things like - organizing (see below), thoroughly cleaning, bringing my contractor in - to fix what was broken, boxing up stuff in anticipation of the move, and taking tons of unwanted junk to Goodwill - I kinda segued to straightening up other areas of my life...which somewhat surprisingly, seemed in more disarray than even my household had gotten.

(Snapped on 12/01/10)

The attic of my studio before it's major overhaul...

(Snapped on 1/14/11)

...and after...aaaahhhh...much better

Assessing whether or not social networking was a viable venue through which to promote my "art", was at the top of my new "to-do" list. I considered every aspect of my presence on Twitter, Facebook and flickr, and what I concluded was this: I had grown disenchanted with all three...for a wide variety of reasons. First off, I couldn't really see where I was reaping great returns from perpetually plastering my pics. all over the internet (and by the time I finally split - that's practically all I was doing) In making my self-portraits so abundantly accessible, was I not also essentially devaluing them? (That is - assuming they were of value in the first place) It honestly felt like folks were starting to tune me out. Understandably, they seemed to be turning a deaf ear to my constant droning on about nothing much other than my pics. and my blog. I was shouting tweets and status updates - into a virtual echo chamber, which was a leetle demoralizing at times. Conversely, some of the attention that I was still getting, verged on being invasive, pandering and piteous...which was anything but consolatory, and made me retreat even more.

In the beginning, I had high hopes that Twitter and Facebook would facilitate exposing my work to a wider audience - and they did! Surely this meant that I stood a better chance of getting more recognition as a self-portraiture artist...right? Ummm...not so much...

I still don't know for sure if the limited response to most of my contributions to FB and Twitter - was because my stuff isn't worthy of being acknowledged, or if people in general aren't inclined to help or even encourage each other. Could it be, they don't wanna see anyone else get more than they have? Perhaps. Unless of course, they already do have more...and on the rare occasions that people with "clout" have expressed an interest in my work and a willingness to help me in whatever way that they can - they don't. They just dangle the offer like a carrot. I have never understood this. Whenever I feel inclined to try and help someone, I do it...sometimes without them knowing it, and always expecting nothing in return.

I don't mean to sound like my time spent social networking was all bad. I definitely made a few really good friends, and reconnected with some that I hadn't heard from or seen in years. And the nurture that I felt from this handful of gems - never did and still doesn't go unnoticed by me. That being said - during the three weeks that I've been off of Twitter and FB, out of 750 followers and friends collectively - 12 whole people have contacted me...and two of those only did so, cuz they were miffed that (they mistakenly believed) I'd deleted and blocked them on FB. None of this was at all surprising to me, and my feelings definitely aren't hurt in any way...instead, I feel it absolutely validates my decision to flee.

The wonderful Pixiq article that benevolent stranger - Haje Jan Kamps - wrote about me and my self-portraits, is an example of how social networking can be a positive thing. As soon as it went live, I waited anxiously, wondering if the article would trigger my big "break". But after a flurry of interest and only about a week's worth of time, the article seemed to have all but vanished from the site. Good god...was that my fifteen minutes of fame?! And that's when I started to really question whether or not - my pictures even qualify as art.

Maybe my ex is right...maybe I'm delusional to think that my obsession with dash photography is a viable art form, when it may be nothing more than a dead end hobby. The way I look at it - just because someone spends the majority of their time, doing something that they truly love to do - doesn't automatically mean the results will be praiseworthy.

I cringed as I reflected on all of this, embarrassed that I'd been so sure for so long, that I was doing the right thing by forcing my pictures on Twitter followers and Facebook friends. When in all probability - they'd grown tired long ago - of my incessant, shameless self-promotion. Before officially leaving FB, I'd gotten into a daily habit of deleting "friends" who were anything but, as well as "hiding" people whose updates annoyed the bejeesus outta me. But now there I was, left to wonder - had I become one of those people? Quel horreur!

All it takes is a few stiff liquor drinks, and I'll do practically anything. As was the case the night that I gathered the courage to douche my FB and Twitter accounts. And you know something? I didn't regret it in the morning...

(Snapped on 1/27/11) 

Right after I quit whoring myself out on the internet, things got mighty quiet and QUICK. I did miss carrying on conversations with several friends old and new, and the cheerful, upbeat witty posts of one or two...and for a moment, I thought I might've made a grave mistake. But weaning myself off of the social networking tit - wound up to be much easier than I ever expected it would be, and I honestly haven't noticed any negative side effects since leaving. Truth is, I'm far more productive than I ever was before, snapping boatloads of photos nearly every single day. I only sit at my computer now, to edit pics. or to write, and because of that - I spend more time with my kids, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and my stress level is dramatically lower.

At first I thought that what I was doing was maybe hiding from, or running away from certain problems, but I prefer to think of this as my way of "unplugging" - which is completely in keeping with my "living simply" bent. And I have to say, without the distraction of constantly wading through all of the (or composing my own) - inane, whiney, attention-seeking updates and tweets on Facebook and Twitter - I am far more focussed on the things that I truly love best: parenting, photography and writing...

It's still hard for me to gauge whether or not my self-portraits are actually art, but whenever someone asks, "So, what do you do?" I reflexively answer with, "I am an artist"...

Clearly I'm incapable of completely cutting the cord, since I've continued to blog despite my aversion to social networking, but I have decided to do a few things the old fashioned way...the way that artists got exposure before the internet existed. And if nothing else, I should find out fairly fast - if what I'm doing is indeed art...or is not…


  1. Please do not cut this cord. I love your art, and your writings.
    When I was in art school, for a period of time I was searching for the meaning of the word 'art' and for the meaningn of art itself. What is it and what isn't. After a couple of months I decided that art is like love. You know what it is but you cannot describe it completely. There are no rules in it and it has a mind of it's own.
    You are an artist because you decided you are one. Because you make the pictures that you need to make.
    You should not let anybody tell you that what you make has no value. Maybe you don't see it now, but neither did Van Gogh when he was doing what he did in his time.

  2. I noticed that you weren't posting at FB, then saw that you weren't listed amongst my "friends" anymore (in quotes because, seriously, are you really friends if you've never met & interacted? I wrote a blog about this once, but I digress). Your photography and the effort you make to create the shots you take is something I find amazing & inspiring. Your thoughts about your life & your creative process are fascinating and informative as it makes me think about my own art & life & how to reconcile the two. Your absence on FB was noticed (by me at least), but I can understand why you left it. But don't be disheartened. Your vision is unique & sometimes people take a while to recognize great art & talent. Persevere and keep on presenting your thoughts & visions. Your work has value. Believe it. I do, & soon perhaps so will others.

  3. I go away a few weeks (yeah, I know, weeks, sorry) and I came back and poof you are gone! :-(

    You have no idea how sad I am.


  4. @Pieter - What an absolutely BRILLiant way of defining what "art" is...or rather - comparing it's indefinability to "love" It really just makes perfect sense, and since reading your comment, my mind has wandered in many different directions - thinking about all that you said. First and foremost - the need to believe in and love mySELF...How am I supposed to expect anyone else to appreciate what I do as an artist - if I don't stand behind it 100%? And when I reflected on the negative remarks that some folks have made about my pictures, I realized that - just because someone doesn't happen to like my stuff - does not mean it stops being art. It's really a matter of taste and preference. Every individual feels love (or does not) towards certain, specific people...and we respond the very same way to art. The art that I myself personally love, and the people that I am attracted to and "fall" for, will be very different than those of the next guy or gal. Thanks so much for sticking by me Pieter, I really appreciate that you took the time to prop me up a bit :)

    @Don - It's the few people like You - that I actually DO miss interacting with on FB...and the funny part about that - is you and I AREN'T actually real life friends. But the fact that you bothered to stop by here and share your kind thoughts with me - in many ways makes you a better (truer) friend than most of the ones that I've known in person for years...Thank you so much for the virtual hug!

  5. I'm still here, Adrian! In fact - this is one of the only places that I CAN be found, anymore. I've been taking tons of pictures lately, and I'm more excited about self-portraiture than I've been in a long time...maybe EVER! So, don't give up on me...there's plenty more where all of THIS came from!

  6. First and last shot are really excellent - disturbing, but excellent! What's in your hand in the first shot?

    I tried something similar last year (but the snow in Ireland isn't as impressive!)

  7. THANK you so MUCH! (To hear that ANY of my pics. are "disturbing" - is a compliment of the highest order!)

    I'm holding an empty vodka bottle - in BOTH of the pictures, actually.

    I like what you did with your OWN "fallen/snow" pic....definitely a bit more gruesome than mine, and I don't see anything wrong with your's white and looks cold just like it is here :) Thanks for BEin' here AND for sharing your photo with me!

  8. The temptation to think that a lack of response from people means that what you do is worth less than you'd thought is strong, but I urge you not to give in to it. It's hard not to, sometimes, I know. The blog I keep rarely gets comments. That used to bother the shit out of me. The same way it bothered me on the occasions that I published a story and got ZERO feedback from readers. Your comment about an echo chamber is spot on: you feel like you're all alone out there.

    But the crazy thing is -- and I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know -- is that most people, when they interact with art and even when they are moved by it, never think to communicate their feelings to the artist. Not an email to say "Fuck yeah, that really meant something to me," or even clicking the damn "like" button on Facebook. And so you just squeezed blood from your heart to make something beautiful or terrifying or both, and it's received in silence. For all you know, NOBODY CARES. And that is truly hard to absorb.

    Pieter is exactly right. "Art is like love" is one of the best analogies I've ever heard. And what you're doing is art because you believe it is. (I believe it is too, but that's really beside the point.) It means something. You're making things that no one else in the world is making. They are unique, and strange, and frightening, and wonderful.

    Which is all a long-winded and jackassy way of saying, it is the lot of any real artist to feel that she is toiling alone. And in many ways she is. So it has to be about the work. Would you do this even if no one at all was watching? I suspect you would. That's why you're an artist, and that's why the pictures are so full of life and blood and energy.

  9. Thank you so much, Nathan...You have the most amazing gift for stating things absolutely perfectly...all of what you said really clicked with me...

    I gotta tell ya' though, since being off of FB - my anxiety over whether or not people read my blog or even care - has completely gone out the window. Like I inferred in this post, without all of that irritating social networking clutter to havta try and wade through, I am entirely focussed on producing pictures and writing about them in my blogs. It feels more I'm doing them more for me - than an audience, for once.

    And you know, the comments that people HAVE left, here on my blog - have not only been enormously helpful (I've been putting the bevy of good advice to use!) but very tender and thoughtful...and I'm reminded that I'm not alone, after all...Stuff feels better than ever right now...phew!

  10. Nathan is spot on. The lack of comments is not a direct reflection of interest and certainly I watch my feed reader for updates regularly and would be more compelled to comment when an image has an impact (personally). I think as a body of work, your project stands apart as creatively unique. You should definitely keep it going and I'm sure there are terrific avenues to explore!

  11. FB makes me feel so anxious. I'm just glad I still have your blog to read and look at. I would have missed it a lot if you disappeared completely so suddenly.

  12. "It's still hard for me to gauge whether or not my self-portraits are actually art .."

    ha! your photos are the proverbial "bomb," with far more going on than so.much that is presented *as* art. and self-doubt - if anything - is an emblem of Sincerity. your sense of composition is spot-on / the sort of .. instinctive knowledge that can't be taught.

  13. @Stephen - I have so many new ideas that I wanna try...and with Spring nearly here, I predict a very active self-portraiture season in the not so distant future...

    @Stephanie - I couldn't agree with you more, about FB being anxiety-inducing...I feel like a new person ever since nixing it from the equation. Thank you for still coming HERE though, and for taking the time to let me know that you's good to "read" your voice again! (Hope you've been taking plenty of pics., yourSELF!)

    @tdaschel - if THAT comment doesn't perk me up...I'm not really sure what WOULD...THANK You!