I began this series of paintings contemplating the effect of info-besity on our society. Most of us would agree that there is such a deluge of information to sort through that we feel as if we are drowning in it, or at least desperately swimming upstream in our attempts to “keep up,” get a handle on things, and know what is going on. On the other hand it is an incredible tool, something that allows us to “get ahead”, stay informed, and communicate with others in a way that has never been possible before. This is the basic framework I am casting myself, and my work, upon. I am staring at the beast of info-besity and trying to stay open to what flows through me as I paint and contemplate it. Alan Watts said, in “The Wisdom of Insecurity,” that . . . “if we are open only to discoveries which will accord with what we know already, we may as well stay shut.”
–How is this surfeit of media affecting us? Are we addicted to following it? Can or should we try to turn it off? What effects is it having on our mental and physical health?
–Are we addicted to information, stimulation, even to stress? Should such addictions be managed/cured, or is dealing with this exponentially expanding amount of information an evolutionary step we must adjust to?
–Have we put ourselves in cages and mazes, when we should seek to go back to the “simple life”? Would it be a more balanced approach to juggle periods in both states?
–Why, in this time of an infinite number of choices, greater affluence, and more time to pursue individual pursuits than ever before, do stress and depression cripple us? Does our “never enough” culture–with its frantic amassing of money, power and information–contribute to these unhappy states?
As a staring point I am using the materials that are part of my library or enter my stream of consciousness as pieces of information to process. An old book about the origin of the human species caused me to reflect whether those people are as disadvantaged as we believe. My old Law School Admissions Test preparation manual is illustrative of our acceptance of all the information that tells us we need success, prestige, and power. Given that mosts goods are shipped in cardboard I used that material to convey the thousands of choices we must make every year about what products to purchase. Lastly, notes, bills, newspapers, posters and announcements ripped from neighbourhood telephone poles and walls, are collaged piece by piece onto surface to symbolize the sheer volume of information that we are subjected to on a daily basis.
As I worked through this series I coined the term “Infoe-diction”; ask anyone to give up their access to the internet for the day and you will realize how addicted we are to being “plugged in”. As you contemplate these questions and view this series it is up to each individual viewer to determine whether the info-beast is your friend or foe. I hope to start the dialogue.