The Power of the Tangible

There’s an article on Politico by Jack Shafer questioning the success of print newspapers’ jump to invest in digital versions. After all this time physical prints still have higher perceived value than the digital versions.

…online editions tend to be perceived as inferior to the paid-for print product because they’re free, plus the “tangible” nature of newsprint gives it an edge in readers’ minds over the pixel product.

This is, of course, very human. Even in the face of so much intangible passing around our culture, we are still hard-wired to value material objects and tangible markers of time.

I’ll point you in the direction of Ellen Dissanayake for some of the reasons.

Early on as a printmaker I latched on to the poetic righteousness of Print’s role in marking time and disseminating knowledge. It is still one of the things that drives my days.

Here’s to the hope that on the other side of this era of cultural upheaval there are some really great steakhouse quality newspapers waiting for us.

(Read the article for that analogy to make sense.)

An Admission of Nervousness

A 37

Baby me in 1996, on a ‘mountain’ in Wales.

I’m headed for a (another) re-boot and it makes me really nervous.

I’ve been living in the same place for 9 months now and I’m about to leave it for a series of really awesome opportunities that I’m thrilled about and at the same time, make me feel vulnerable. I have an amazing, blessed life. Maintaining a balance of healthy relationships, nurturing gratitude, and keeping up with my own ambitions and commitments, is a challenge that I try but sometime fail at.

A broken web camera became a stumbling block for me this week.

I was getting ready to video chat with my nieces this past Thursday and the camera on my laptop wasn’t working. I could see them and they could hear me, but the built-in camera wasn’t working. There were a few moments of stress, my eldest niece was now upset because she wasn’t going to be able to see the new books I got from the library to read to them. I was upset because I love getting to hang with the girls but sometimes technology can upend your expectations. I came up with a work-around, using my iTouch to video chat. But the screen is so small that i could hardly see them.

I’ve grown accustomed to being able to maintain treasured relationships via technology. I know in my heart that these moments of video and voice connection are no replacement for the real thing. But they’re what I have right now as I travel, job to job, project to project. The life of an artist / academic post-grad school can be very itinerant.

I need my family and friends. I need to see and hear and feel loved and heard by people who have known me for longer than a few months. I need to have people I can give to, to be there for. I tend to be slow at building intimate friendships and so I lean fairly heavily on the ones I already have. And so when you travel as much as I do, and am about to do, the technology becomes vital.

When the camera broke, I entered a spiral of stressful questions: What if I have to get an external camera? Where the hell am I going to put it in the bags that already seem like they’re going to be beyond full? I can’t afford to spend that money right now. What if my computer breaks while I’m traveling and I can’t read to the girls anymore? What if I miss it, what if I miss all the important things about them growing up? What if I’m already missing all the important things? What if they don’t know me when I come visit because I stay away for too long? What if? What if I’m fucking all of this up?

Crazy town.

What am I doing? Well, I got a job in Italy. After three years of being in grad school and one as a visiting assistant professor both in small mid-western towns, I’m going to be back and forth from Italy for the next year. In fact, I’m not planning to have a permanent place to live for the next two years.

I can do this. I know I can. I’m thrilled about the things I’m going to get to do, and see, and taste! I’ll be going kayaking in Croatia, going back to the pub in Oxford I worked at when I was 18 years old, revisiting friends in Venice, presenting at an international conference, putting up a solo show in Italy… endless, endless once-in-a-lifetime events. Just promise that some of you will hang out with me on the way. And that when I get back, we’ll still be as thick as thieves.

The adventure continues….