A Birthday Dreamscape | Act III: The Hybrid Here and Now

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

The birthday came and went, but the angst have not subsided.

Stop thinking so much about the future.  Worry not about your place in the universe.  Quit the futile attempt of analyzing yourself.  “Here and now” I remind myself.  Live the moment as it is!

But where is Here and what is in the Now?  And how best to capture the moment?  Suddenly I am so disoriented that even the zen attitude is challenged on the most fundamental levels.

The lifelogging exhibition still open for a few more days, my mind revisits the Science Gallery to take a look at another installation, which could be a superior method of capturing the “now”.  Compared to some of the other works, it also emphasizes “caring for oneself” more than “knowing oneself”.  Since the 24th September 2003, Alberto Frigo, an Italian media artist currently living in Sweden, has been photographing objects he has used with his right hand, as one of eighteen different aspects of reality he is collecting.

It has been 31 years since I inked the very first word in my journal, but my teenage self at the time gave it no forethought whatsoever about this number. Three decades in the future would have felt like the next life to her, too distant to be bothered with.   Frigo’s project, on the other hand, is well planned out – it will be 36-years-long, from 2004 to 2040 when he turns 60.

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

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My journal since July 1984

My mind is impressed by Frigo’s logging practice in a number of other ways:

  • Unlike diary-writing which often puts me in a dilemma between living my life and documenting it, Frigo simultaneously (or nearly simultaneously) lives and documents his, with digital media.
  • I am frequently frustrated with long gaps in my writings, when I simply cannot catch up. The more intense life gets (for laughs or for tears), deserving more ink, the less time it leaves to record it.  Frigo, in contrast, is disciplined and methodical – each panel represents a month, each line a day, and each individual photograph an object.  He does this everyday, and “Images of the artifacts used by the main hand” is only one stream of data he is stowing.  There are “Stories of the dreams remembered when awaking”, “Notations of the songs recognized while heard”, “Plaques of the casualties read among the news”…
  • My journal is extremely private.  Rarely anyone has been allowed to read it and if lost to fire or flood, it would be gone, all gone.  Frigo’s data outputs are recorded not for himself but for others to interpret, and are meant for potential proliferation.
  • After he dies,  he would like his data deposited in his birthplace the Italian Alps, with a compact, physical part buried, but the data available as an augmented reality cathedral to mark it on top.  My plan for my journal after I die?  Oh my god do I have to think about it??

I look at my pile of journal books, covered with dust from China, New York, California, London, and Greece.  It would break my heart to lose any of them.  Reproducibility and easier recording of digitally captured moments beckon, yet somehow I cannot imagine parting with the joy and therapy of pen-tip kissing paper, of thoughts flowing to the pages like ink flowing down the barrel, as difficult as the flow maybe many a times.

Shall I then adopt both?  Would that be technology-assisted “examined life”, or narcissism on steroids?

With no resolution on how to preserve the “Now” going forward, I contemplate the “Here”.

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Bon Voyage | Writers Notecards from friend, birthday 2015

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April 2015 footprint tracked and imagerized by FrickBits, in my chosen palette

Among the birthday memorabilia still sitting on my desk waiting for my decision on the best method to stow or utilize them is a box of blank cards with retro-style icons and images symbolizing travel.  Thank you, John, for your confidence in my ability to still “go places”.  YOu know how much I always yearn for that, figuratively and literally.  Yet the cards also seem to be telling me that I need to get a better grasp of where I am, so I can better navigate where next to go.

In my amateur attempt to mimic Frick’s data art endeavors, I downloaded her app FrickBits to track my journeys right here, locally, right where I am.  As April draws close, a month worth of data has accumulated for the app to turn into an image.  I eagerly call up the image, to see what it tells me about my current place.

I see a runner readying herself to go some place, with short legs and a tall head.

With the retro-cards in one hand and app-generated image in the other, I realize I am as unsettled in my “Here” as I am with my “Now”.

*        *        *

On paper or in bits, I want to hold on to my Here and Now.  But Here and Now seems so fleeting, like a wild horse I cannot rein in.   My springtime birthday prompted a few strange dreams, and before I can write them down, fifteen weeks have flashed by like a blur, summer is now in full swing, and the year has entered its second half.  Where did the time go??

While the fifteen weeks slipped from my hands, Laurie Frick has put on another solo show, at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York, which will run until July 25.  Titled “Who are you? What day is it?”, the show features the notion of time, with series of works derived from data-tracking that monitors individual time use.

This wood block, tack and leather squiggle tracks the artist’s own 14-days of time use, color-coded by activity.  Image courtesy of Laurie Frick

This wood block, tack and leather squiggle tracks the artist’s own 14-days of time use, color-coded by activity. Image courtesy of Laurie Frick

7days_a_woman

These leather, wood and aluminum “totems” track 7 days of time of one woman, 32, from Frick’s Time-Use survey, color coded by activity and quantity of time spent. Image courtesy of Laurie Frick

7days_a_man

These leather, wood and aluminum “totems” track 7 days of time of one man, 37, from Frick’s Time-Use survey, color coded by activity and quantity of time spent. Image courtesy of Laurie Frick

That Laurie Frick!  She seems to know my buttons to push.  Time.  TIME.  TIME!  I have been a subject of its tyranny since my mid 30s, and its power over me seems stronger by the day.  TIME!  It’s perhaps at the core of all my anxieties.

“YOU are your time, you are defined by how you spend your time, the activities and even unconscious use of time says loads about your psyche, your personality and your inner-self. Your sense of who you are is based on the recollection of recent events, and what you are doing and intend to do. It’s your basic orientation in the world”.

If she is right, I have more to deal with than my anxiety with time.

Who am I?

Shall I track, log, digitize and virtualize to discover, optimize and materialize myself?

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake

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