Turn Off, Get Out: Cultivating Disparate Artistic Input Beyond the Internet

Managing daily input & output is important to continuing to grow as an artist. Many of our daily rituals are centered around the Internet and cell phones. I've been ruminating lately on how the online world is extremely useful for displaying artistic output, but the input that really inspires me often comes from somewhere else, outside of these little boxes. Please embrace the irony of a guy writing a mildly abstract manifesto on a computer, telling you to turn off your computer and go experience the world. Are you sitting in your cubicle reading this? Go outside on your lunch break. Take a camera. You have a camera with you, right? Your assignment is to go walk around the block. No talking. Only listening. Watching. This adventure recap is a manifesto to myself to stay motivated to get out and directly experience the amazing place that I live.

Deeper Listening

Last week I went to the Sutro Baths to shoot at night. What a beautiful place to photograph -- especially on a clear night under a big bright moon. Find places that inspire you. Turn off your machines and go there. Sit and listen to the waves. Your breathing. When the stimuli inside the electronic boxes goes away for awhile, something more interesting may happen.

Sutro Baths (#30) -- by Joe Reifer
Sutro Baths (#30) -- by Joe Reifer

Not Knowing

During the last full moon I also photographed an abandoned rural farming area. I didn't know exactly where I was going. Friends led me to the place. Surprise. What fun! Pressing buttons on Google Maps isn't nearly as good as a brisk hike in the middle of the night. You need to know enough to get there and be safe, but sometimes you don't need to know everything.

Untitled (farm) -- by Joe Reifer
Untitled (farm) -- by Joe Reifer

Open to Disparate Input

Saturday I attended the Berkeley Peace Lantern Ceremony to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Seeing children and families gather together to create and launch colorful hand made lanterns for this beautiful memorial was an intense experience. What events are happening in your community that might inspire you?

Peace Lanterns (2009 #02) -- by Joe Reifer
Peace Lanterns (2009 #02) -- by Joe Reifer

On Sunday I went to a pancake breakfast on the SS Red Oak Victory, a Liberty Ship that saw service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The juxtaposition of touring a military vessel after the previous night's vigil was thought provoking. The dedicated volunteers of the Red Oak Victory have done an amazing amount of restoration work since I last visited 2 years ago. The Red Oak Victory is hosting movie nights, tours, and another pancake breakfast on September 13th. A recommended outing.

Red Oak Victory (diptych) -- by Joe Reifer
Red Oak Victory (diptych) -- by Joe Reifer

Close Your Eyes

I picked up a few back issues of Artforum at the library, one of which happend to be on Pop Art (October 2004 issue). Thinking about Warhol is strange -- we just take him for granted. When I got home from work today I listened to Lou Reed and John Cale's Songs for Drella. When was the last time you sat down, closed your eyes, and listened to a great album all the way through? Perhaps more listening would be easier on the eyes and the brain than firing up the computer after work.

Double Dog Dare: A Day Without Your Phone and Computer

So what are you doing this Summer? Sending people lollipops on Facebook? On Friday I'm going to see the Richard Avedon and Robert Frank exhibits at SF MOMA (Note: The Robert Frank exhibit closes on August 23rd). I'm leaving the iPhone at home. Friday will be completely Internet and cell phone free. Consider this a challenge -- go one day this week without looking at a computer or cell phone (except for an emergency, of course). Do you think you can stand it? I'll admit that I don't think it's going to be easy. But I'm double dog daring you. Let me know how it goes -- but don't call me on Friday, my phone will be at home, and I'll be out.

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