A look into the inspiration behind the work.

What? #Selfie


Do politicians and the media ever use reasonable arguments?

Humans are funny creatures we can find ourselves believing in impossible arguments designed by masters of the art of persuasion. In college I took Logic 101 and first learned about logical fallacies. It was an eye opener. Even though I know about 24 these nemeses of logic I still fall prey to them.  

With my next group of #Selfies I would like to explore a variety of ill formed arguments that are found in social media on a daily basis. Hopefully I will be able to solidify my own knowledge of the false arguments to help me remember them.

 You experience a fallacy regularly through sneaky media creators and politicians who use them masterfully to sway your opinion.  They do this because it works if you don’t know how to ferret out their corrupt logic.

Simply put a logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. They are thoughtful illusions crafted to trick you into believing some argument or point of view is true. If a story doesn’t quite add up there is probably a fallacy hidden in the story.  

Most of the time there are several fallacies that are stacked up in a story or a speech.  The writer will cover all of their bases by twisting the logic in several directions to make sure that their faulty reasons stick like glue and you will more likely hold on to their truth rather than think about how their argument is screwed up.

It is really all just part of our own flawed human condition because we want to believe and we’ll defy logic to fit in and get on the bandwagon.

Do you too fall prey to logical fallacies?

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Loss #Selfie


What are your thoughts about personal loss? Who do you trust with your fears?

Everyone handles loss differently. Some find comfort in company while others prefer to confront their losses alone. Being a highly visual person it is extremely difficult for me to face death and major illness visually. I tend to avoid funerals and hospitals because the last memory of someone I care about in those situations is not a memory that I care to have. I would much rather remember people while they weren’t suffering or lifeless.

Funerals are the worst because it never seems to be really about the deceased but the extended family. In my experience family members who most likely haven’t seen or talked to each other since the last death in the family suddenly begin to position themselves in a hierarchy of who is grieving the most. There is an unspoken competition as to who was impacted the most or who was more important to the departed, basically selfishness in their grief becomes paramount.

We are forced to face our own mortality in these situations and it appears that our fight or flight instinct is turned up to maximum. Emotions during these moments are on the edge and even personal observations are taken in offense, unless of course it is geared to be put into an application for sainthood.

Real concern for fellow mourners confronting their grief can be in conflict with family and friends. We become witness to a dramatic affair and the very worst of character is revealed in these moments.  This is another reason I have difficulty with these situations and prefer to meet with personal loss alone or at the most surrounded by people who I truly trust to understand the worst in myself.   

Our own mortality is something we all must confront as each passing moment we race to the same inevitable end. No one lives forever… yet.  Until technology finds a way to solve that universal fear we will always have to find ways to comfort ourselves and others through our losses.

What are your thoughts about personal loss? Who do you trust with your fears?

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My Way #Selfie


Do you have difficulties in your life that lead you to the childish impulse to hold your breath until you get your way?

How easy it is to revert to our childhoods and attempt to hold our breath until we get our way or answers to our questions. I have been trying to find out what artist painted the most self-portraits.  Naturally I turned to Google to inform me.  There is a gap in this particular nugget of information on the web. So I must ask if Google doesn’t know it, who does?

When I started this project and realized that this was turning into something larger than I expected I decided that maybe I needed to figure out a goal and define my purpose for creating all of these selfies. In my experience, as creative projects typically go they often end up in a completely different place than you expect in the beginning.

With time, growth and unseen obstacles that happen through the process we can expect that the vision will evolve into something more interesting than what we thought in the beginning. This is the number one thing I love about working in a series. Half the fun is to see where it goes and the discovery of what keeps the idea going.

The first thing that usually gets me started is the simple desire to paint. Individual images tell stories and when you work in a series the paintings start taking a life of their own and they can often become a novel.  There is a personal delight in uncovering the bigger story the paintings begin to tell that reaches beyond the primary fulfilling the need to express myself.  

One obstacle that inevitably pops up over and over again is the question of what the purpose of the story and I always want to answer that question prematurely. I have to remember that the story is being revealed with each piece and pushing the envelope too early may crash the story.  I cannot hold my breath until I have a clear vision and the journey is more revealing if I don’t know all the answers.

Maybe with the mystery that Google has created for me is part of the process as well. I know I can research the answer in traditional ways, or I could seek out an expert. But I have decided that the question of who painted the most self-portraits is unnecessary information for this journey.  I think the better goal is simply continue until I can’t stand the subject any more.  However, if anyone knows the missing Google information of which artist painted the most self-portraits please let me know.

Do you have difficulties in your life that lead you to the childish impulse to hold your breath until you get your way?

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Overwhelm #Selfie


Who isn’t creating selfies? The trend, the ease, the opinions, the disorders, the overwhelming awesomeness has taken over news feeds across all media sources. Even the President is found taking selfies at commemorative events such as funerals and Red Sox games, now that is mainstream!

All of the attention that #selfies are getting validates their importance.  As authorities malign the practice the more curious they become.  Heated discussions are sparked on the subject and not a single opinion is impartial. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the practice.

The one thing that I’ve noticed is that many selfies are beginning to be more realistic. Instead of the search for the perfect selfie most people creating them are creating not so perfect images that would never pass the muster of media publishers and they are simply celebrating their lives through candid snapshots.

If you want a quick view of the variety of selfies being taken, Selfeed.com is a site dedicated to real-time updates of the #selfie tag on Instagram. It is a blur of activity and will give you an idea just how many selfies are being taken every moment. As the images flash on the screen, it is as difficult to process as it would be to see each individual in a crowd but you can see the frankness of what is being created. Warning: If you are an epileptic don’t go to Selfeed.com it is sure to put you into a fit.

So if you haven’t already taken and shared a selfie, it is time for you to start doing it right now. Please overwhelm me with your own awesomeness! Post your selfie pic here and share your honest life shot with me on my Facebook Page.

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Monday #Selfie


Where do Mondays come from?

Monday, Monday, Monday! Aren’t you so glad it is here? Back to work and back to the grind… The big thing that I have to look forward to is that as I try to get things done spending a ridiculous amount of time looking for things I just had! No matter how organized I try to be it seems to be an endless search for tools or pages that I need and had just a moment ago.

Tell me please that I am not alone with this phenomenon.  After giving it some thought I’m wondering if it isn’t a right brain/left brain thing.

I know I often shift into right brain dominate when I’m working. My first clue is I lose track of time while doing the job, especially when I’m in a groove.  I think I get into whatever I’m doing and lay things aside absent (right brain) mindedly after using them and move forward with the next step. Somehow when I come back to the real world (left brain) there is enough of a shift and I have completely forgotten where I put the tool aside.  

I have tried many things to reduce this effect including a container to hold all the items I need for the project and this doesn’t help. I still put things down wherever I finished with them.  Then the next time I need it, the hunt is on. This problem seems to get more troublesome when things are already out of disorder. Last week when my computer hard drive went down this “lose what I just had” problem seemed to escalate even if I was working on a non-computer item or maybe it is just the state of being discombobulated that leaks all over everything.

The way I got through last week was to adjust my mindset to accept that things were in disarray, just roll with the punches and know that eventually this too will pass. I am hoping that this weekend has washed away all of the disorganization and everything will fall into place as they should.

My computer is back, I have reinstalled most of the programs that I use and have downloaded all items from the backup. All should be right in the world even if it is a MONDAY!

Have a great day, week and month! Via la Monday!

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Workings of the Soul #Selfie


What draws you into sharing your life online?

The impressions of digital self-portraits are fascinating to me as being a part of our social media culture. What does it reveal about a person? There are complex human emotions behind each selfie in how it is picked by the 'artist' and then how it is seen by the world in which it is shared.

I believe that the selfie reveals a lot about the individual that is posting it. Most of all if reveals the workings of the soul. It is a reflection of how that person responds to the world around them and how they want to be seen by the world.

Just as the caveman documented their major life events on the walls of their living spaces, we are now able to chronicle our lives on virtual walls with ease. Our life online whether real or invented is developed through our regular postings. We can develop relationships across the world with people we may never meet face to face. Technology has changed the way we interact with the world as well as how we respond to it.

As our individual stories develop online, we allow the world to see us in our uniquely created persona. We can find more people who share our interests or rally like-minded folks to our shared concerns.

We can share our passions or failures with over a billion potential people worldwide on Facebook alone and 48% of posted selfies are shared there. Then there are 350 million photos posted daily on this network. Most amazing, the average user spends 20 minutes each time they log in and can be exposed to 1500 pieces of content when they do. Of course more than 75% of users visit multiple times during a day and spend more than 8 hours a month. This is a lot of life sharing on a single social media option!

The selfie is an important development of this interaction. We are sharing our lives, so we will naturally want to show our face and the faces of the people we love. Humans are social beings and our help to faces tell our story and the easiest way to create that content is with our cellphones.

With photo content easily created I decided to create a series by combining the historical journey of the original painted artist’s self-portrait method and the modern selfie photo. This allows me an expressive visual dialogue for my response on the human condition created by social media and insight on our place in the world at large.

What do you get out of social media? What draws you into sharing your life online?

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Perfect #Selfie


Am I in search of the “Perfect #Selfie?”

Am I in search of the “Perfect #Selfie?” I think not. I believe have full knowledge of my defects but “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” is not one of them.  I don’t sit around obsessing over whether or not each painting is a perfect likeness or worry about what others think about the newest piece.  What I am exploring is the idea of #selfies and the effect this new trend has on our interactions on social media.

There is a hot topic trending about #selfies being an addiction and some psychologists are advocating for this addiction to be classified as its own disorder.  REALLY? Don’t you think that this behavior is simply a symptom of something that has been present all along?

We have evolved to be a media centric society. Our cell phones are present and being used when we sit at a table face to face. I know I am guilty of it on occasion. When I go out with friends and family my life, my artwork is right there in my pocket and I share what I’ve been doing by presenting my phone. It’s easy and convenient, if something comes up in conversation that I can’t answer, I “Google it”, mystery solved.  Even my dad in his late 70’s has upgraded to a smart phone so that he can talk to the phone and get answers and when he grew up the outhouse was the bathroom available, mind blowing!  

Back in the day people kept “diaries” of their daily activities which were written by hand in a blank book.  Were these people obsessive? The novelty of hand written life chronicles are now available with new techniques and it is expressing itself in the context of the media. I maintain that this is natural to the human behavior that has existed through time. People use what is easy and expedient and a photo of self is worth 1000 words. The human face is the most expressive part of the human body and over time a group of #selfies will provide an encyclopedia of the poster’s life. You couldn’t do that in a diary.

Sure I can pull out a single instance of some poor kid so obsessed with the perfect selfie that seemingly eludes him to the point of suicide. But what about the millions of ordinary people who create millions of selfies that do not get obsessed; one case does not make a problem or a need for a new disorder. Even if we could track down 1000 people, it still wouldn’t be anything but a symptom of an already defined disorder that would express itself in some other way if cell phones didn’t exist. It could be the obsession for the perfect word to describe oneself.

In our media centric behavior there is too often a single case that becomes the rally cry for change. Although tragic, one child who has a heart defect that went undetected and dies on the football field does not mean that annual physicals should include MRIs for every child wanting to play school sports.  Sometimes bad things happen and this too is part of the human condition.

So this “new” selfie behavior is nothing “new”.  Humans express themselves in ways that are available and simple.  We can just now see more of it through the voluntary digitization of our lives.  

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Vanity? #Selfie


Are selfies self-indulgent and full of vanity?

Are selfies self-indulgent and full of vanity? One of my posts yesterday from my selfie feed initiated a debate about selfies and social media. The post was “Scientists Link Selfies to Narcissism, Addiction & Mental Illness.” I think that the article is loaded with unreasonable bias as most news stories are.

In my point of view, selfies offer a way to put a face and expression onto an inherently faceless online medium.  There is a new found freedom when we take a selfie to share with our friends what we are doing at that moment. It is a snap shot of our lives. It is a way to share and look back on events in your life and remember what was happening.

People are now chronicling their lives and sharing through photos easily taken with the technology that is available. Images are simply another way humans communicate. Artists have been creating images throughout history to tell a story or immortalize an event.  

Just like artists in the past rubbing charcoal on the cave walls, with selfies we can use what is available to us to offer images as we would like to see in reality and put them on our virtual walls and document events in our lives like never before. The problem is what is a piece of my life may not appeal to you and may cause you to turn away or be repelled. Immediately the outrage is spurred and the dark side of social media rears its ugly head – the public stoning by negative posts begins which can tip an already unsteady mental state.

In the article that was posted and sparked debate, there is one instance of a young man’s obsession to take the perfect selfie and when he failed he attempted suicide. This instance of one is not enough information to make a reasonable or accurate decision on the rise of selfies in social media. I believe if the technology didn’t exist, the young man would have found some other fuel for an obsession. Just as everything else in the world, if you have a tendency to be narcissistic you are probably going to find a way to express it, even if that means staring into the placid pond until a goddess turns you into a flower.

People are using their own emotive and rational yard stick to survive the glut of information online and when you can put a face on it we believe we are identifying the problem. But let’s face facts, not everyone is using the same measurements and what you find popular online is not an accurate way to judge reality. 

My question for you today, why is there a need to analyze the reasons for people creating selfies when it is a behavior that humans have been doing since the beginning of time?

Here is the link to the refered to post. https://www.facebook.com/michelle.leivan/posts/10203583368885211

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I Got Nothing #Selfie


How about that for having nothing?

Yeah, I got nothing. I envy people who seem to have a witty comeback for nearly every conversation. Usually I find myself standing in the middle of a group with absolutely nothing to contribute.  The pithy comments usually come later when they are irrelevant to the current conversation or I am alone.

Sometimes it takes me a while to completely process the context of a face to face conversation. I am paying attention to more than the words that are spoken. I am observing the gestures, expressions and the rhythm of the words as they are spoken. When I pay attention to all of that I become an observer rather than a participant.

I am fascinated by people in social context as a result I become a wallflower rather than the center of attention. It is the artist in me and the lure to paint people rather than landscapes.  Sometimes I wish I could have Google Glass so I can simply capture the moments I see to store and recapture the poignant moments on canvas.  (Who has $2000 for an accessory that you don’t own and can’t share?)

What is needed is something inconspicuous, because as soon as you pull out the cell phone to capture the moment, people suddenly put on their masks, the emotional instant is lost.  One possible more economical solution is the new Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch which makes a camera available on your wrist. But somehow that would seem awkward and sneaky to attempt to get a shot as you casually look at your watch like Dick Tracy.

I still have nothing. No witty contributions to the conversation or a way to capture the interesting things that I observe.  It must be a little spring fever and my imagination whirring away at the possibilities to integrate technology into my work. Of course I don’t need any of those gadgets to continue with my selfies.  I am not finished with the “Being My #Selfie” series yet so I’m all good for today even if I still have nothing.

I can simply continue with my blissful nothingness.  “You know nothing John Snow.”  This doesn’t stop John from moving forward with his goals.  I think I’ll take a cue from him and just keep moving forward.

How about that for having nothing to begin with?

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Failure #Selfie


Do you think a 15% failure rate is acceptable?

Sometimes things happen that you have no control over. Last week I had a potentially devastating breakdown in my technology. The laptop that I had for less than 3 months and had been relying on almost exclusively had a hard drive failure!

After the initial freak-out, I took a moment to breath and realized that I had already taken precautions for this situation with a cloud back up. Although not an instant fix, the data I depend on for my business and my art still exists out there in the cloud, thanks to Backblaze, http://www.backblaze.com.

This was an unexpected hitch in my schedule and it affected everything in my life for several days. Nearly everything got put on hold just to address this one problem.

I spent a few hours on the phone with the computer manufacturer to convince them that the hard drive was actually not working so I could use the warranty to send it in and get it replaced. Although the guy on the phone was patient and helpful, I still began to wonder if I could ever fully trust the computer even if I did get it fixed.

Then I began to wonder how many people have their technology go down? I did some research for laptop failures. Would you believe that out of all the manufacturers out there, none are less than 15%?

I guess it is true that there are many computers manufactured on a Friday (14.2%) end of the week attitude and it looks like that maybe there are some created with at Monday hangover as well.  If you are curious about the manufacturers, take a look here http://lifehacker.com/computer-manufacturers-ranked-how-to-pick-a-laptop-tha-1467145338/all.

I started to consider how those statistics are reflective of the human condition. We expect that when we buy something that it work perfectly all of the time.  So I asked myself, is this unreasonable? I came to the conclusion, even though it seems high, it is reasonable to expect at 15% failure rate on anything that is touched by human capabilities. It is impossible for us to be perfect all of the time and so we should take precautions to protect the things that are important to us and be reasonable with our expectations.

This is a lesson that I am going to go forward with: Have a goal and try to meet it, but don’t beat yourself up when unexpected things fall along your path. View it as a detour, deal with the issues and then get back on track as soon as possible.

So today I think I am back on track with my “Being My #Selfie” series.  I can’t promise that life or technology won’t get in the way again. But when it does, I’ll be kind to myself and take the time to deal with it and move forward just like this last week.

How about you, do you think a 15% failure rate is acceptable?

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