Insight on my new (old) website
Is it the height of self-reflexivity to write about one’s own website and blog, or is this the proper response to contemporary American self-regard?
I ask myself why am I taking such delight in the redesign/remount of my blog and website? Is it that this revision marks a moving-on, a progression, a clarification and refinement of my life, or simply a rearrangement of parts, a fancier frame for the same picture? Yes, yes, and sort-of. For those of us who lack archival and 2-dimensional spatial skills, watching one’s work (and thus life) be reassembled in a fashion that is accessible, communicative and clear brings the analog mess of life into digital order. Is the very ordering an accomplishment to be proud of, or simply a task completed? Deliberate order reflects an aesthetic choice, or at least a desire for such. Yet flinging the files at someone while pleading that they make sense of it all might be an abdication of agency; shouldn’t I be the one to design how I am seen? Arranging my work in a matrix made by someone(s) else subtracts me from the process, does it not? I prefer to think of it as a collaboration, as well as an acknowledgment that the material itself is worth organizing, meriting review/revision, a kind of re-staging.
The complex computer code forming my soon-to-be furloughed former website lay beyond my skill set to rearrange or substantially alter; the architecture of my house of self-regard couldn’t flex to fit the occupant. No one is to blame for that; web designs were much more specialized a decade ago. I snuck around the foundations of the place, washing the windows, checking the doors, but didn’t really own it. And I can’t ask the person who built it to help with renovations; our relationship decayed as did the site. Now, if I read the plans and pay attention, this new virtual place twill be mine. It is perhaps, in the end, all about formatting and packaging, but there is also the vital aspect of review, looking again, acknowledging, and perhaps a bit of editing. We make and remake until it is all swept away.
This prompts me reflect on two friends, an artist couple in their late 80’s. Their house for many decades, modest and located away from the major art centers, became too much for them and they moved into an adult residential community, the helpful tri-partite institution designed for the eventual decay from independence to dependence. They remain in the active former state, working, their bedrooms and living room converted into art studios (one works in photographic collage, the other in sculpture). On a recent visit, they recounted how many of the people living in their complex, accomplished in life, are floundering in retirement. What does one do? Odd hobbies and obsessions erupt, which puzzle and bewilder our friends. They may have been moved, with some of the forced passivity that implies, but they actively moved their creative lives into the new place. They live as working artists, every day, with no computer, no internet, no websites. The only way to contact/distract them is by phoning, writing, stopping by. They work, and continue to show what they produce. Our friends are not derailed by the contemporary urge to check-in, update, track, monitor, Instagram, FaceBook, blog. When something they have created is ready, they maintain an older network of galleries and publications. Only a trickle of the work actually goes into substantial circulation, but there is something about that control, that limitation, that creative margin that reminds me of the value of the work itself. We who are constantly thrusting ourselves forward electronically lean in to see what our predecessors are up to, needing no code or special skill to look on in wonder.