Wallpeople is an ephemeral collaborative art project that takes place simultaneously on a number of cities worldwide. Here in Porto the June 7th event happened downtown at Rua das Flores, and I was there to film it.
I had no idea the Chinese (or at least the citizens of Beijing) had a sense of public space similar to the Spaniards. Just look at how they make themselves at home in the streets a night: we Portuguese could learn a thing or two.
The Innovation of Loneliness by Shimi Cohen, after a TED presentation by Sherry Turkle. I wouldn’t normally post this sort of thing. I tend to find motion infographics simplistic and distracting, and as for TED talks, once genuinely interesting, these now often resemble sales pitches (to say nothing of the full-on sleaze of TEDx events) for books that tell you What You Already Suspected: e.g. social networking increases feelings of isolation, loneliness, and therefore are not good for you.
As clichéd and trite as this idea now is, clichés tend by definition to be true and some do deserve sustained repeating and, indeed, ‘sharing’ on ‘social networking’ platforms. So, even though we know better, we can’t help but look at our 250 ‘friends’ on Facebook and feel we should be more ‘engaging’, that a lack of response to the stuff we ‘share’ (I promise I’ll stop with the irony quotes) must mean nobody actually cares about us. We make the mistake of confounding our unreplied (or worse — unreplied but ✓seen*) messages and unliked posts with a qualitative assessment about ourselves — the same mistake many artists make when they mistake themselves for their work.
Facebook, if I may add a few more of my trite thoughts about it, is not your old High School cafeteria, despite often resembling a virtual version of it. If you are, as I hope, someone with a sense of etiquette and democratic values, I believe that instead of feeling rejected and worthless because someone ✓sees your messages and declines to reply, perhaps it makes better sense for you to unfriend that person. (The same goes for cellphone texts, by the way.) Or at least to organize them in a ‘doghouse’ group where they are still ‘friends’ with you but blocked out of your stuff, which is perhaps worse. (I don’t believe this is too harsh. What would be said of someone who blatantly ignores ‘friends’ in face-to-face situations? Or should we consider that, as Facebook is not a virtual playground, elementary social customs and rules of etiquette do not apply?) Same thing goes for people who go and bully you publicly in comments to your posts, something a grown-up never would in real life. Ask yourself: are these people good for you? Should they see your stuff? Should you be looking at photos of all the sushi a non-responder had for lunch?
If one wishes further motivation to take socialization offline, one can also open the doors of paranoia and consider the power companies such as Facebook, Inc. have in mediating people’s interactions. (Can we completely and unarguably dismiss the possibility some FB, Inc. researcher is running cruel psychology experiments on some of its users, subtly changing the content of instant messages, labeling unreceived messages as ✓seen, etc. in order to provoke and study the reactions of the recipients? This may of course seem delusional, but in the light of recent NSA spying revelations we know that if something is technically feasible someone will do it. Think about the crimes of pharmaceutical research in impoverished countries, and how intentionally causing friends to argue because of miscommunication would be child’s play — even though one can guess it would cause a lot more outrage. Are there moratoria against such tampering with communications and against running such experiments in transnational networks? Would it be possible to enforce such a moratorium?)
It takes conscious effort to go on Facebook and not get sucked too deeply into the ‘social’ lie. I try to remind myself it is in essence just a mix between a (rather unreliable) group blog and an address book with some (again, unreliable) instant messaging features. Socializing is what happens outside of Facebook, indeed, outside any mediation. Online platforms should at best handle the introductions, the reacquaintances, and at most, outward-pointing chit-chat. So it’s nice to watch the above video and remind ourselves such a distortion of reality — loneliness, lack of ‘engagement’ with ‘friends’ — is just the smooth running of ‘social networking’ platforms.
Hence my paradoxical sharing — don’t feel obliged to like or favorite this post, though. I’ll be fine.
* When I first saw a ✓seen timestamp in a message window I thought people at FB, Inc. were trying to engineer social behaviour — i.e. forcing avoidant responders to come up with something or look bad. I think they miscalculated to what an extent some people just won’t care about what others think.
A rainy day not so rainy since I heard this on the radio a few hours ago: John Wizards' Lusaka by Night.
I could describe Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Frances Ha as a film that crosses elements from Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise and Terry Zwigoff / Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World but such namedropping, while accurate, might mislead you into thinking Frances Ha is a self-conscious and highly referential indie. It is not.
Baumbach and Gerwig built the rarest of filmic pleasures nowadays, a completely contemporary motion picture that stands alone, no references required. No other film I’ve seen recently is as remotely accurate as what it like to be a young (and perhaps "undateable!") adult nowadays, the New York City setting being totally irrelevant to its ressonance. The sequence (minor spoiler) in which Frances goes into debt and spends a weekend in Paris all by herself is utterly soul-crushing, way more poignant than the science fictional, literal aloneness Sandra Bullock’s character endures in Alfonso Cuáron’s Gravity (also an incredibly good movie on a wholly separate set of merits).
Do yourself a favour and watch Frances Ha as soon as possible.
I’m pleased that Sunday, September 15th, the RU+A participatory and urban art event will happen here in Porto. The ugly metal shutters that make the street landscape after stores close will be illustrated by fine local artists. There will be visual arts and woodworking workshops for children and the old alike. There will be live music and deejays and street theatre. And there will be beverages, including beer.
Even though the online fundraising fell a bit short, the gals got lucky as a plethora of sponsors came around to help the event happen. Now RU+A only needs a public. If you’re around Porto next Sunday, come spend the afternoon in the area between Rua de Cedofeita and Pr. Carlos Alberto. Help them make this event a success!
This is worth reposting as there’s only one week to go on the Indiegogo fundraiser:
RU+A (Facebook link) is a project that aims to qualify a run-down area at the center of Porto by inviting local visual artists to paint the area stores’ metal shutters in an event that will be taking place September 15th. There’s also going to be some live music in the street, a graffiti workshop and more — even possibly a barbecue.
Friends, Joana and the RU+A gals need to provide all the materials (paint, brushes & etc.) and all the permits for that event to happen. They’ve set up this fundraiser for both private and small-business sponsors. Perks include, besides a shout-out / some advertising for you, unique traditional portuguese ceramic tiles painted and signed by one of the artists. If you can, please help them out! Time is running out!
Even though I have some trouble doing anything with it (other than filming my friends’ kittens), I find the concept of Vine quite interesting: six-second videos made with an app that works like old Super8 cameras (only recording while you press the trigger), encouraging both synthesis and all kinds of in-camera experimentation. And even though Instagram though has similar capabilities, Vine’s lower six-second limit just seems more interesting, focused on action rather than on beautifully-filtered meditations.
To the point, here’s a compilation of six-second science experiments and explanations. Awesome. It’s Okay to Be Smart