One thing that I try to do every week (or at the very least, every month) is attend events at Inspace, the University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum’s art space. The events I try to attend “blind.” I get the event emails from New Media Scotland, and sign up for the various events. I’ve attended lectures on memory and music (which resulted in my showing my inability to use a turntable in front of 75 people), a Pecha Kucha night (in which I stood up in front of a separate group of 75 and told stories of falling off of Arthur’s Seat), and a presentation by the Information Delivery Service (which resulted in no ridiculous stories from me).
IDS is a student cooperative fascinated with information, its readiness, their desire to have it all. The lecture, which I found interesting, was filled with information overload (and rather disjointed, lacking any coherent narrative flow, from which it would have benefited greatly). It did, however, leave me to contemplate how what we consume and create develops our identities.
I’ve recently started using Pinterest, that incredibly popular photo/lifestyle/dream-sharing website that’s been critiqued for everything from creating desires for unattainable lifestyles to dubious copyright infringement. What’s struck me as fascinating is, apart from its addictive qualities, Pinterest is able to give a ‘look’ to how we identify and how we wish to identify. It’s a means, like the Facebook info page, to divulge bits and pieces about ourselves to the world.
We are what we consume. We’re made up of the books that we read, the music that we listen to, the clothing that we wear. We identify through media, with ourselves and with each other. When getting to know one another, we ask about what sort of books we read, movies we watch, music we listen to. We find common ground and relate to it, often through what we enjoy.
If one were to look at my bookshelf, one would find a few books of critical theory (Guattari, Ranciere, Postman and McLuhan), philosophy (Hume and Marcus Aurelius), novels (John LeCarre and Margaret Atwood coexist, Raymond Chandler recently moved to the bedside table), my DVD collection of The Prisoner, a small CD collection (The Smiths and The Jam), and a few art books (exhibition guide to The Queen Art & Image, the exhibit I saw on my first day in Edinburgh). One can start to suss things out about me, just from what I choose to share about my intellectual consumption. I’m interested in media and environments, spies, and music made before I was born.
I see the world filtered through what I consume. Far too much of what I experience or think about is influenced by The Prisoner, even my potential dissertation topic for this degree. The thought of being without my DVDs in a foreign country was too much to bear. I even started reading books like Le Carre’s for research before realising how much I love them (okay, I’ve always enjoyed these stories, far more than I have the books that I’m “supposed to like”).
And I hate for the pretension that comes with saying, “I am an artist” but it’s true. I am an amateur painter, perhaps someday a professional digital artist (my dissertation, with hope, will kickstart that). But I read books on art, I examine it, I enjoy it, I consume it.
The presentation made me think only of this.