Not Just Another Digital Media Blog

– art, philosophy and online interaction.

Ask me a question and I will answer?

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. Bruce Lee

Is a question always asking for an answer, information, etc.? In most conversations and social interaction the answer should be yes. Sometimes when you argue with someone you might use questions that are spelled (or yelled) out as statements rather than questions even if you voice flows in the same way, as it should if you asked someone for the salt. But the use of questions is much more diverse than you might first think. My own interest in asking questions has grown from people close to me asking questions even though the do not want an answer that does not fit with what they already has decided is the answer. The question is asked out of some form of guilt or have-to-ask-fixation. A question can of course also be asked out of politeness. This will or might be misinterpreted if the social codes of interacting in these situations, what the correct answer to the question should be, are not spelled out or agreed upon. Asking a question as part of social interaction is different from the use of rhetorical questions since a rhetorical question is used to make a point, a statement rather than interact in conversation. A friendly asked question made as part of a conversation beg for an answer. The answer can be one that you agree or disagree upon but if you already have an answer then you should make a statement rather that mislead the person you are making a conversation with by pretending you care for her/his opinion by asking a question. Growing a caring and exchanging relationship should build on open-mindedness not on playing rhetorical language games. 

 

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Communication = speak and listen, listen and speak.

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Our social society has become a global enterprise with the Internet, online communities, real-time interaction via Skype and so on. Learning to communicate online can be difficult when, in the text-based social media, you only have the written words to relay on for interpretation of meaning. Talking to someone standing across to each other uses body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and so on to support the communication. But communication with email, text-massages and real-time (text-based) chat lacks this support. Even with video-meetings and Skype a bit of the animation of the bodily expressions get lost and the voice looses some of its width in tone. Other flaws with the picture-based communication are that we tend to miss out on the signs when someone is about to say something.  

Then on top of this, at that counts for all communication although it has become more apparent with the new technologies, is differences steaming from our cultural background and hereby the need for intercultural communication skills in on or the other form. Even within the same country there are different ways of communicating and hereby I mean in the use of words, what is ok to say and when etc. Plus of course that everyone has a unique set of experiences, that when talking about communication can be good or less good or even bad.

From a philosophical point of view words should have a higher “success-rate” when written because then the meaning is not influenced by tone of voice or bodily appearance. But is this the case? 

Yes I think so, but when communicating you will have to be very direct, speak from your own point of view (if you do not have delegation to speak for others) and listen to what the others say (not what you think they say). In some groups asking questions is not an easy option (even though it should be) because of the reaction from the others. Still without asking questions when you are unsure you risk misunderstanding and instead of filling out the blank lines with facts filling them with your own thoughts and experiences. This might in the make lead to the rupture of the network of communication and thereby moving away from consensus instead of towards it.

With the use of language, not only written, we have built or social reality with all its institutions, presidents, kings and queens, money, private property and so on and it is easy to rely on all it’s documents but we need to keep in mind that without communication this could not be achieved or sustained.

 

Art and science

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I remember a discussion I had years ago with some students studying math at the University. At the current time I went to art-school and we had a deep discussion on the subject of creativity over a couple of glasses of wine. One of the students was of the firm view that math was not creative at all. I disagreed (and still do) and said I think it is; In order to be able to find solutions and solve mathematical problems you do have to combine creative thinking, thinking outside the box so to say, and theoretical problem solving. Without the creative thinking you will at least have a harder time making progress. (Even though today I believe in the stronger assumption you will not reach the solution without creative thinking.) I quit art school and after that have I had the almost opposite discussion with artist’s – that math is not creative and that art loses value if you add theory or frames. Well aware that not everyone is of these view in either field I only want to point out with these examples that if we build on the differences or what we do not have we will not move forward. But if we see the connections we will see the net of cooperation, and gain knowledge plus move forward. I still believe that eminent mathematicians and artists have much in common, and that in both fields of profession you will need theoretical problem solving skills in combination with creative skills.

As Sarah Lewis wrote in her article on Salon yesterday Scientists aren’t the only innovators! We really need artists because with both we will connect and together create the future. 

Digital media – a Schrödinger’s cat?

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Ever since I wrote my first email I have been nervous when I press send. The new functions in Outlook where the conversation gets stuck in pile, the conversations to a whole group, forwarded messages and single conversation, have given me a couple of nervous meltdown. I constantly try to follow systems, double-check files and still I am never ever fully at ease when I have pressed sent when there is an important attachment or when the mail is one that has to be perfectly formulated. I accept others failures, missed attachment, wrong attachment and I’d rather ask what someone means in a mail that I have doubts about. I say sorry if I do something wrong, if I misunderstand, miss something etc. Still I feel that digital documents are a bit like Schrödinger’s cat. And as much as I loathe the Schrödinger’s example (even though I know it is just a thought example) I do seem to have an issue with those digital documents. But back to the digital documents and digital communication. As with all communication and performance in a work or personal situation these things is connected with different parts of our knowledge of the world. There is of course a fair amount of personal baggage (or maybe garbage) at stake here. Other than that I think the digital world is hard to grab at times since it is virtual, not possible to explain (if you are not a technically skilled person) and not possible to sense with our senses in a direct way. People also interact digitally in very different ways, from selfies at Facebook to short mails stripped of feelings. I enjoy Facebook from time to time; I like being in contact with friends that I otherwise would have lost connect with. I am a massive communicator on the email side and I think it is a brilliant way to communicate. It gives me time to think before I answer and I can take the dialogue when it suits me. So I am a very active user of digital communication. How can this be like Schrödinger’s cat, well there does seem to be an uncertain part in digital communication and that is that I can not be 100 % sure that the document that I send will get to the receiver, only to her/him and nobody else, in the way it was intended. Documents tend to get corrupted on the way, due to software, cryptation and so on. Of course this was the case with snail-mail as well, spies etc. but the uncertainty factor is bigger in digital communication and the possibilities for surveillance is bigger. With or without this uncertainty digital media and communication is positive, but to be aware of what you send, when and to who is a good thing. 

Warmth

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Not here yet but the spring is lurking around the corner with sun, green trees and flowers. I admit I am not much of a winter person, snow is beautiful on postcards but I’d rather have spring, sumer and maybe autumn all year around and I guess I live in the wrong place of the world to have my wishes granted. Still I artificially can create a substitute for the light summer days with candles, a blanket and if I am lucky a pup on my lap. In a way I construct a fake world to get me through the dark, cold and wet winter months (and sometime autumn and early spring as well). I might miss the smell of clear cold winter air but I can live with that, and I can always open the freezer to get my fingers cold and icy. 

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

 

 

Life long learning

The past months I have spent many hours working with a digital solution for stage performance – getting a team together with the right skills. a roller coaster and hard work. But hardest of everything is to meet my everyday companion – my own lack of doubt in myself and my capabilities. Sleepless nights with thinking, nightmares when I finally go to sleep. No surprise, though this time it has hit my hard as a sledgehammer turning every task into a walking in deep mud up a steap hill. Memories of former failures flooding over me. Guilt for not being able to sort out myself and get things together. Seeing all the connections, why and how and still not being able to fix it is devestating. Trying to tell and hearing the same words over and over again as a broke record (you now … vinyl). And I wish someone could mend me, give me a golden plate with success and most of all turn the time back to carefree days with the scent of flowering roses, cinnamon buns and warm coffee in my grandma’s kitchen and watching my mum nurting the garden as she loved. But those days are forever gone and sorrow is like the long dark winter.

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Khalil Gibran

Moving images

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When I was a kid I loved to play with puppets, to make them out of everything and to construct fantasy worlds  where the acted and lived. Playing shadow theatre with myself could keep me awake long after bedtime. Today I came across a video by Lotte Reineger, a documentary about her work. Beautiful and tantalising are her works and I think my favourite is Papageno from 1935 with the original music by Mozart.  

 

Having a bad day?

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A great video called Instructions For A Bad Day a video made to the poem by Shane Koyczan. Beautiful words and a nice illustrative video. Enjoy! 

Home and personal identity

During the eighties the artist Paul Young had a hit with the song Where ever I lay my hat  I was never a fan of his music, too soft and mellow, but still every now and then I remember the title (and the song). Home does mean something to our personal identity. What differs from person to person but home – our definition of a home as well as where we feel at home – is a part of us. You may long for a house in the countryside or as me have a constant urge to move on. You may be attached to certain things, places and so on maybe because they are significant for a certain group of people with whom you identify yourself. It might be the same place where you grew up that is home to you but it might as well be a place on the opposite side of the earth. Some other artist said or sang that home is where your heart is and I would like to add home is were you feel at home, the place where you can be you and evolve as a person.

The home should be the treasure chest of living.
Le Corbusier

Magic art

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Art that opens up magical worlds of imaginary universes combined with the realistic world we live in. That is the way I would describe the works of Dean Lucker and Ann Wood. Love their work! A short video with their work and how their collaboration takes place can be seen here. Enjoy!