14 March 2016

The Aesthetic Washing Machine // In the Studio

I was reading an article, Go & Listen by Oleg Sivun in one of our Stack magazines, Benjamin Knewman (volume 3), about our culture and wearing headphones.

"When you go out on the street, you encounter a world that does not belong to you, a world of the alien (strange people, strange things, strange sounds) and the music (familiar and close to your heart) that you hear in your ears is one of the ways of making this world a bit more yours". Ideas were explored that this music is like an "aesthetic washing machine" which simply makes life easier, and the idea that we cannot separate things - important from unimportant - "we are trying to manage everything and, as we are doing it all, we have lost sense of what gives us real pleasure". We can only really appreciate music for the art that it is by stopping and listening, otherwise it's just passive listening - a soundtrack to our days and our lives.

I found this a fascinating read - that need to 'belong', which is also apparent in the world of social media, and even the effect that our existence has on Earth…

While I can completely appreciate the positives of social media, I've never enjoyed using my personal Facebook page, because I see (and have felt) that it is smothering, draining and addictive. People posting about their feelings, pinpointing where they are on maps throughout the day, and about how much fun they're having with him/her/them. Posting about what you are up to acts like a journal, and visualising your events seems to enrich your life and give it more purpose. What begins as a way to document your days - like a diary - quickly becomes something far less personal, reflective and liberating. You have an audience to keep up-to-date, to see how busy you are, and to wish they were with you. Sharing each others lives in this way makes it become like a competition of who's life is most fun and interesting but can actually make us feel more hollow than full. I see the energy that goes into that, and it must be exhausting to have to keep that up - to feel that you have to keep up the dedicated logging for your audience who are waiting for it now that you've started - who might think less of you or your life if you don't. The first thought people always seem to have is to put what they're doing on Facebook, instead of enjoying the moments they're in and the company of who they are with. Does anyone stop to think about how much thought and energy this takes? Do they feel stifled? And do they ignore it because it's something that almost seems expected of you in today's culture?

Control seems to be something built into our culture - the need to be or feel a part of everything. The need to feel that everything belongs to us. The need to build more things - on more space - to consume more, to have more, to control other populations - more of the earth - and now the space between each other. It is an interesting impulse that we have, which I think isn't necessarily built into our nature, but driven by the down-side of fast-paced communicative technology, the pressure to work long hours for money-driven lives, and this idea that we need 'things' to make us happy. But I think that this is all false. It is well known that having more doesn't make you happy, and in my experience it is the people who have the least that feel the richest. Things just serve to cloud our view on what really matters to us, what we really want and need. They cloud our fulfilment, cloud our attention on the important things, and separate us from the precious things in our lives - moments missed.

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