My last post about Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk discussed how Turkle’s ideas influenced #EverybodyAllTheTime. Another huge inspiration for this project (and for my art career in general) is Culturebot, and, in particular, the writing of its founder, Andy Horwitz. Culturebot describes itself as “a hub for community and a platform for artists, audiences and organizations to share discourse.”
I have been reading Culturebot regularly for several months. The website exposes me to art and dance that I would not know about otherwise, and it does so in a way that is relatively accessible, compared to other art articles or journals that rely so heavily on academic jargon that the point is muddled by pretentiousness. I highly recommend the site to anyone interested in contemporary dance and art.
One of my favorite articles on Culturebot is called Territorial Pissings. The article, written by Horwitz, helped me develop ideas for #EverybodyAllTheTime. Titled after a Nirvana song, the article discusses the most recent generation groups: Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millennials, and the way modern technology affects these groups.
The whole article is wonderful, but one quote stands out to me, and has heavily influenced my project: Horwitz suggests that “the biggest challenge of the Internet-era DIY moment is re-learning the importance of being together in real life, in small groups of good friends; of remembering that the mediated world distorts and deludes, that it is valuable for distribution, but not necessarily for depth.”
I am captivated by the idea that we have forgotten how to be together in real life, and, especially, in small groups. I find that when I am spending time in a small group, or even with one other person, our smartphones are not far away. They are sitting face-up on the table, they are nestled in our pockets or laps, or they are in our hands.
When there is a lull in conversation, we pull them out, or they pull us in with a buzz alerting us to a new notification. We’re still physically with the people or person, but we’re also with our phones. We rarely sit quietly together.
It isn’t my place to say whether or not this is bad; it’s just how it is. It’s how I am. But it’s extremely important that we are aware that this is how it is, because, as Horwitz points out, our phones let us share information almost as easily as breathing, but they do not provide depth. We achieve depth in real life, through the small-group interactions that we still have, even if these interactions are punctuated with (punctured by?) the use of our smartphones.
In my project, I am exploring this divided consciousness: our split sense of self between our real-life interaction and online existence. I hope to acknowledging the omni-presence of smartphones while emphasizing the importance of being really, physically together in order to achieve depth in our lives.