Lately I’ve become reacquainted with the dial, I must admit turning it feels great to the hand and most natural. I believe I have missed it as the keyboard gets smaller and evermore flat every passing year. Discovering true fulfillment in quiet moments has provided me with a welcoming heartwarming contentment like pulling on a hand knit wool sweater upon feeling a chill. My art is process based without the constant hum of distractions like back in the 1980’s when my only disruption was when my boom box played my favourite tapes for the hundredth time and stopped needing to be turned back to Side A. In rest, my activities have become simple tactile and hands on experiences filled with enjoyment and done at my own pace without rush, many quiet in nature but not always. During the digestion period of this personal revelation I began writing about my journey as I have done often during times of change to sort out thoughts and ideas. Becoming dialled in with analog and art through identifying with living an analog existence has changed my days.
Never before having given too much thought to my digital practices, the effects of digital devices on my energy reserves and the overall time spent with or on them writing has allowed for process through what has been an easy digestion. I have been in deep reflection and made drastic changes to life practices over a period of several months I simply picked up the eraser and wiped my whiteboard clean. After the digital audit and detox I experience a fresh start like the early days of planning on a fresh shiny whiteboard with a new package of dry erase markers. I began to see changes to my daily existence.
The change unknowingly began when for a period of time in my life I couldn’t look at a screen or talk on the phone. The hum of electricity throughout the house hurt my ears and when on occasion the power went out, I felt a quiet relief come over my body. I truly enjoy moments without electricity and digital devices. Not long after, all digital devices were removed from my sleeping area, digital lights blocked out and my increasingly uncharged iPhone removed. I could no longer tolerate the sound my watch ticking and I took off my Fitbit, after all my disabled housebound lifestyle wasn’t logging 10 000 steps a day resting. Time has mostly become irrelevant to my life and can be easily witnessed through the natural light of day. Often I sit in rest without interruption of noises or digital devices, that is often when I feel my best in my body with a calming sense of peace identifying a preference for an analog lifestyle. Thus I had been flirting with these thoughts and ideas for several years. It would appear my life was being lived in a state of static, like a when the knob on the radio isn’t fully dialled into the station.
My static lifted when I began living an analog lifestyle choice. A reconnection with nature led me back into my painting practice giving my life purpose and this was the best thing that has came out of illness. It led me back to many activities I enjoyed dearly in life which have nothing to do with digital devices, like reading books, writing in my journal, sketching and the nearly extinct written letter. There have been unusual experiences that I have encountered as well with the digital world for myself and those around me is my interference with it. When in my presence digital devices often pause, begin buffering or stop working altogether. Rebooting our devices is frequent and it has happened in all of our dwellings, it is most unusual but definitely present and regularly observable.
Since having arrived with full awareness that I am an analog girl living in a digital world. Awareness that had to be discovered and uncoiled, like everything with walking a different path I had to discover it myself. I began commencement of my digital detox not sure what if any withdrawal I will face, after all the powers at be have made it quite an addiction. Possibly the greatest addiction of all time, with everyone wanting to be in hand of the latest device. My current timepiece I am in use of is over one hundred years old, I believe it was purchased around 1902 in London England by my great grandparents before they journeyed to Canada by ship. Each morning I gently turn the crown winding the mechanism for a full day of time. I haven’t used an iPhone conventionally in over six years, it usually sits uncharged and . My watch batteries have died and I have ordered replacements for my swatch watches, they are worn for style more than time. However, my expectations were unclear, although I have enjoyed the satisfying act of winding my timepiece.
The most time consuming aspect of the digital world in my days was social media, living everyday and night in my home for several years now it was a way to connected with others since becoming disabled I was basically ghosted by the people I once knew. Otherwise I live an extremely solitary and isolated lifestyle. During my period of healing I took several breaks from social media, my accounts were hacked and I had to begin again. At one point I was unsure if I would go back to the Facebook platform at all. However, I often found myself scrolling when sitting in rest as though there was nothing else to do.
Last year I aimed to develop my artist website and become connected on social media platforms with the arts communities. What I learned is that social media is far too depleting on my energy for very little to no gain. I talked about addiction with digital devices and I believe social media has been changed over time to create huge addiction for people just to be seen in the ever changing algorithms. Artists need to be seen but for me it is too great of a cost to my energy, if I can’t paint because I spent time creating content that changes with algorithms constantly. However, experiences that provide content are not usually analog in nature. Since changing my practices I find myself with little to no content. I changed my social media practise to the end of the afternoon if energy permits and I post if I have content. I question the purpose of Facebook as I am basically not being seen besides my partner Brandon. I may have to attend to that matter, currently my Instagram just shares to Facebook which is no extra work for me, it is working for me at the present time.
Furthermore, I can’t ignore the aspect of mental health and social media which is extremely invalidating for people who live a marginalized lifestyle like those with disability. There is a continuous bombardment of images full of unreal, fake and posed moments merely to meet the algorithm of posting content to be seen. For those of us who live alternate simple lifestyles that don’t lend themselves to capturing photos and videos. Or for those of us who are artists who make work that is visual and created over long periods of time not lending itself to frequent video or photo, we are left in wonderment of what to post. The format doesn’t fit our lifestyle, which is odd as Instagram was full of artists posting visual content at one time. The amount of times I begin to scroll through pages only to realize how much I can’t do in relation to others and the feeling that leaves me with isn’t worth it. I dialled myself in, got rid of the static and changed my practice to meet my needs no matter what. Now I only post when I have something to post. This leaves me unconnected in socials, however the stressful rot of the strain on a persons mental health to keep up with socials isn’t worth the cerebral decay.
Great challenges are faced following a non digital path in today’s world, being more connected to nature than computers. It is like living through a personal revolution, a revolt for one. When everyone is rewarded and feeling satisfaction for rushing around by alerts of their digital watches and smartphones, sitting in the garden unplugged provides a monumental peaceful juxtaposition, people are encouraged to live like marionettes controlled by eye catching red strings to the digital world. I began to wonder if I was the only human who turned off all alerts, red flags and heart palpitating sounds from digital devices. I wondered how has our world become so loud and agitating to the human amygdala, is this done by design ? Although it would seem I have had many revolutions in my life, when my body has declared extreme aversion to something of which others have no reaction. I have learned in my elusive research that I am not the only person, although our analog pathways are not often talked about in todays society. Lately I have heard whisperings of others like me. Requiring a reboot to set me back on the analog pathway and take me off the red wires linking me to the digital ways.
I suppose one might say my particular digital revolution was rebooted when I started to reconnect with nature on my healing journey, my pain eased and my mind settled in nature. My garden provided much more nourishment, ease of suffering and a sense of peace which my body was unable to regulate due to my chronic illness. In comparison, to the use of digital devices made my symptoms significantly worse almost immediately causing me to avoid them for long periods of time. All I had to do for peace in my body was make my way out to the garden and sit on one of my benches. The more I think on the idea, I believe I have always been trying to live this life with great challenge and a mounting resistance, perhaps my illness was the only way to return me to my analog existence.
My own digital experience simply evolved sometime around 1990 with worldly changes by the powers at be, and I didn’t give it too much thought how it would effect my life. Digital devices and practices were advertised to make things easier and faster in our lives. I did have protest in adaptation to the computer and was likely the last person to own an iPhone. Over time it seemed my cassette tapes were of no use, as was our thoughtful collection of films on VHS and we were convinced that rewinding was useless task. The one day of regret in my life was getting rid of my music collection on cassettes as well as my Sony Walkman tape player, an act I have been thinking about greatly lately. This was the beginning for me. I never again thought much about the changes like going from a big ben winding alarm clock to the digital alarm clock that played the radio upon waking. It seems a strange thought now that a digital phone device run on wifi is used for not one but all of these functions and much more like taking photos and paying ones bills. I often wonder if I am the only person who finds this peculiar and questions the actual purpose of this device.
I feel alive through tactile experiences, my life feels empty without hands on experiences which I can touch and experience with all my senses. My art making process is the most satisfying analog practise I engage in, I like this very much and I want to explore this motif greater in my work. In fact I was just gifted a 1958 two tone grey Royal typewriter for my birthday from Brandon. I prefer sending a written message by hand over a text. I keep a wall calendar to write important things onto as well as a hardcover agenda book. I read from books held in my hands. I prefer holding the jacket cover to an album and find a disconnect with digital music. As far as maps go I found nothing of greater annoyance while driving than a digital voice directing me, I prefer looking at the visual cues of paper map and the spatial knowledge of my visually charged brain. The last car I bought didn’t even make it out of the dealership lot before I pulled over, stopped the car and figured out how to turn off that loud and annoying nav system. I often feel as though I am the only person who can’t tolerate the sound of computer generated voices ?
As an artist creating through analog techniques I prefer being engaged in my art making process. When I try to include a digital practise into my art making process it distracts and takes me away from my experience. I have tried but become exhausted needing rest, disrupt the peace within my body and experience less time with my art, my experiments have now commenced. I no longer feel the need to try to conform and be part of the digital world, I am happiest and peaceful when I am engaged in my analog lifestyle. More and more I identify with living a slow simple lifestyle, time has became elusive and without purpose in my life. Truthfully the digital world isn’t compatible to my lifestyle, it probably never has been and has of course worsened over time. We kept our landline for as long as we could until I no longer had an income after I became disabled. I don’t regularly use an iPhone, I only keep one hooked up for safety and it mostly sits uncharged. Truthfully, I never enjoyed talking on the phone having much difficulty understanding everyones excitement over the smartphone.
Through art I explore the quintessence of moments with nature. An enchanting quiet moment experienced with nature which I place into memory. Sitting down with the memory of the moment, I explore through written word using words that randomly come to mind depicting the sensation of the experience. I then begin deconstructing the flower through drawings in my sketchbook, how I see the flower and this becomes the essence of the painting. A palette begins to form with luminous colours extracted from the flower and I begin exploration into a title. These are all parts of my art that can happen out of my studio, even while I am on rest. Clearly experiences with analog identities.
When I am back in my studio I continue drawing practice as I need to continually strengthen my fine motor skills and I begin to work on typography. Panels can be prepped in white gesso and I can begin working on my base layer as my colour palette is ready to be assembled. Now I begin bringing in the components together through symbolism, typography and drawings in my composition onto the layers of the painting. An enigmatic experience through paint depicting the essence of quiet moments with nature. My art making practice gives my life purpose, supports my lifestyle and enhances my voice. The whole experience being analog. At the present time my studio is mostly free of devices that will give cause for disruption or drain my energy.
Of course all in moderation. There are elements of the digital world whereby there is no possible way to exempt oneself. One of my exceptions is my camera whereby digital cameras are the only option without a photo developing room. However, I can choose when I want to connect my camera to my devices as not to deplete my energy. Another is social media as it is my only way as a housebound artist to regularly share my art in the world. I do feel now that it is important to establish rules for this practice which seem to be essential for my wellbeing. Finally, watching film and series have become entirely an experience through the digital world, it is with great sadness that the video store and movie theatre are no longer part of my lifestyle. I have been hearing whispers of Blockbuster Video which has left me with some hope. My life before I began working at a career and becoming part of the busy progressive digital world was mostly analog. The more I was drawn into the digital world in my career the further away from my true self I became and the more of an imposter I was trying to conform yet finding more and more static in my life, I didn’t realize how much I loved dials.
As I sit here listening to the radio I am comforted, auditory engaged and in good company. Equally engaged by my books, journals, walkman, tapes, puzzles, word find, sketchbook and pencils provide me with such experiences of comfort. At any moment in time I can pick up one of these tactile real time hands on activities to provide me with moments of enjoyment. I have come back to a place where I can sit with music and enjoy the energy vibrations and emotive experience once again, having often felt the longing for dancing this gives me a different kind of satisfaction. The analog existence has change my days for good, these days the radio waves are transmitting clear without static. Living analog makes me feel naturally dialled into my body, one might say I am experiencing good vibrations.
2 thoughts on “Dialled Into Analog and Art”
Time for me to start planting seedlings cheers !
That is true, enjoy getting back into the garden.