Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fantastic Machines

I had an interesting conversation with another "pre-digital era" human being today and it felt like I was part of an exclusive club. But that conversation did get me to ponder the two worlds I straddle – digital and analog.

I have watched people from my generation embrace technology as the new God but others are frightened and confused by it. I am somewhere in-between. However I think we need to watch how we embrace these changes with caution. We are very confident in our abilities to create and manipulate this digital world but as we focus so heavily on our virtual reality are we loosing touch with REALity?

People that are growing up in a completely electronic age may be loosing the ability to communicate with human beings face to face as they text, blog, and live their lives online. It is a very good time for the emotionally dysfunctional – they never need to show their faces in the real world. But what about the subtleties of reading human expression and body language? I think the current generation may be more awkward with these skills that mine but I would have to test that theory further.

What makes us human is in direct opposition to the digital age. Human is using instinct instead of logic, its being creative and taking an out-of-the-box approach to a problem, its hearing all the sounds in the music as one, it is "knowing" without proof that there is a higher power. I have to wonder how are we going to integrate our humanity and our current love affair with technology?

Nature is suffering because of our disconnect from our need for nature. We can't connect the idea that the food we eat needs to be grown, or raised, or slaughtered, or watered. We can't seem to connect the idea that the water we drink has to come from the clouds first before everything else. We are not fully understanding that technology will not grow our food, build our houses, create water, or life. It can only assist.

So I have to ask... are we in danger of destroying ourselves for worshiping this false God? Maybe it wasn't so bad when I had use my finger to arduously dial that rotary phone or I only had three TV channels. With all this information has come misinformation and a responsibility to think more about the truth. Am I am willing to watch the fall of humanity rather than give up my MAC laptop and my Blackberry? Hmmmm…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween - an artist's favorite holiday

I love October - I love Halloween. The light changes, softens and grows darker as we head towards winter. The air smells different. By the time October 31st rolls around the mood has been set by Mother Nature and we are ready to prowl the streets at night.

I discovered that there are many websites that have attempted to interpret the spiritual and ghoulish aspects of Halloween into online applications (you can find them in the Halloween book pictured above at www.limagegraphics.com). One site was an online Quija board – or "talking board" as they called it. This is an interesting interpretation considering that it is the spiritual energy that supposedly moves the pointer to answer questions. How does spiritual energy work online? You can be the judge. http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/WebOuija.html

Halloween is a version of so many ancient rituals that were meant to ready human beings for the rigors of winter. Is it any wonder that it is a celebration of moving on, death and the mysteries that surround it? The imagery of Halloween is rich and ready to be plundered by any artist. It is just too tempting – skeletons, ghouls, vampires, jack-o-lanterns, bats and on and on. The color palette – lots of black and orange, iconic. As a designer you have to be careful when pairing black and orange any other time of year because it is instantly perceived as associated with Halloween.

The connection to the afterlife is the most fascinating aspect of this holiday. In witchcraft "All Hallows Eve" is supposedly the night the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest, which allows the ghosts to cross over and speak to the world of the living (and vice versa.) It is the new year in Wicca and other cultures. In Mexico, on November 2nd (in conjunction with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day) El Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead is celebrated. A day when family members honor their loved ones who have passed. Once again all the great symbolism of the afterlife is dressed up in Mexican finery.

Dia de los Muertos in Oxaca, Mexico

I will always be fascinated by Halloween. The costumes, the rituals, the dark side. It is a moment when we all stretch our imaginations and for one night reinvent ourselves. The reinvention is our being reborn into another year of possibilities. Halloween is so much more than what we were taught as children.