I’ve been writing this book about Instagram for ages now. It all started when I noticed people who were eager to have a lot of followers. I’m not sure about the year.
There is a hollowness in this hunt for digital fame, I thought, and decided to write a book about it. It’s somewhere between non-fiction and fiction, I’m mentioning Paris Hilton and quoting some people. The book also has a Kierkegaard quote.
It’s not just Instagram. The main idea of the book indirectly reflects patterns of social media usage in general. It’s about how we deal with such a medium. Now back to Instagram as a prime example: My point is that Instagram culture has become superficial and attention-grabbing. In our age of collective worldwide ADD, it comes as no surprise that a huge amount of people will try to scream loudest by wearing thongs, showing off their cars or posting memes.
Anyhow: The book is still in progress. I’m currently re-writing the chapter about Versace, because I’m struggling with the idea of fashion. If you think about it: A design company makes clothing, and people buy these clothes and associate themselves with the brand, incorporate its features. People who buy Louis Vuitton want to make a certain statement.
Why would I deal with fashion companies in a book called How to Be Yourself on Instagram? Well, in the end it boils down to the brand. Be your own brand, is roughly what I’m saying in the book.
Launch is coming soon.
In November 2016 my friend Katy had the glorious idea to interview me. Since this blog underwent a relaunch, all old entries are gone, and some are lost for good. So I had to browse through my emails until I found this ol’ interview. Thank you Katy! Here we go:
Q: You have a number of online names or personas. How far do these divides permeate? For example, is your creative process different for name / login?
sw: This is a complex question. I do at times have different names for different projects, yet I feel like I, as the person behind them, am the common denominator. I’m not trying to be anonymous at all costs when using a certain pseudonym, but I do enjoy taking a little step away from myself as a person by using a different name. The creative process feels like the same thing for everything I do, as it originates in my head, so I always feel some kind of integrity towards what I want to represent or express artistically.
Q: You articulate in a number of mediums – painting, photography, writing, animation, to name a few. I wanted to know if you start your work with a disembodied idea and then you seek to find the right medium in which to express this idea (like perhaps a multi-lingual person searching for the right language through which to articulate in the least compromising way*) or if you begin with the medium and the idea comes from that point? Or if neither apply, please elaborate.
sw: It starts with an idea. Disembodied idea is a good term for that. I tend to create very spontaneously (in all of the cases), and then work excessively for a couple of minutes or hours. In my case I think the ideas are born very quickly, it seems like they appear out of nothing. So I pick the medium after the idea came up. The only (partial) exception is perhaps photography, because it relies on what’s happening in the outside world (you have to have the camera ready to take a picture when someone catches a ball with their forehead, for example).
As for languages: Similar usage dependence issue as photography, for me at least. Even more: I almost always use English for everything I do. I’m never really aware of looking for the ‘least compromising’ way, as I’m rather focused on possibilities instead of limitations. Knowing that translation and language use always has to do with limitations though, I can see why people seek to reduce compromises when it comes to expressing their ideas.
Q: You’ve become increasingly interested in coding and web design. Do you consider this work as a creative practice and in what way? And if not, how would you position this work in relationship to your more traditionally ‘creative’ work.
sw: I think coding is the cleanest version of creation. It’s actually fascinating. You create something that makes sense or has meaning in whatever way, and it’s relatively free of references. In cultural areas artists often work with references, or they’re unintended but identified by the audience. References are not always controllable, making it difficult to completely overview the outcome. With coding you can have a more streamlined and pure realization of your idea. Yet coding requires a lot of knowledge of crucial details, so the learning process, or the process of developing skills in this area, is slow (at least for me).
I’m sometimes impatient when it comes to realizing an idea, and that’s why I’ve always appreciated ‘traditionally creative’ work for requiring (at times significantly) less effort. I won’t give up on coding though.
Q: A more personal question, you’ve mentioned wanting to find a work that demands you leave the house during winter. How do you see that the city of Berlin changes from season to season?
sw: Seasons are very crucial around here. The climate will decide whether you stay indoors or go outside. The reason for this is very simple, it’s just the temperature. In the summer you always have more options, like a BBQ or a nice hike. In the winter the hikes always seem more difficult and laborious, and not only them, but every step you’re taking outside of the house. You then stay indoors more, but as you’re constantly surrounded by the same setting, you need to constantly get something new into the setting. For example, many people would watch tv shows. I’d like to leave house more in the winter to have more of a change or dynamic in my day.
Q: I am interested in the period you spent in America and would like to know if, and to what extent, on returning from america you saw Germany and Russia in a new light? If so please expand. I only speak one language so am not sure if this is something people commonly feel, but ive experienced multi-lingual friends reference feeling something like this
sw: I guess you can feel the ‘old world order’ in everything on this continent. It’s applicable to Germany as well as Russia. I’m thinking architecture here, but also interior design, the look and feel of everything. Other than that, I’ve come to understand political or ideological differences a little better. Also I might tend to (want to) see more similarities between people of different origins, their beliefs and values. For example I think every culture would appreciate similar values, such as honesty or empathy. The appreciation of values and following these values might just be expressed in a different way or with different intensity with people from the US, Russia or Germany.
Picasso changed the rules of the art game by introducing cubism. It’s about seeing an object from different perspectives at once. This new movement was revolutionary, because it went against the European tradition of creating an illusion of reality on canvas.
This design further simplifies Picasso’s technique. I’m stripping off everything except for parts of the face, so it becomes more apparent what Picasso means by seeing an object from different perspectives.
And, what’s wrong with their user interfaces? Well, the problem with them is really sort of in the bottom 40 there. It’s, it’s this stuff right here. They all have these keyboards that are there whether you need them or not to be there.
And they all have these control buttons that are fixed in plastic and are the same for every application. Well, every application wants a slightly different user interface, a slightly optimized set of buttons, just for it. And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can’t run around and add a button to these things. They’re already shipped.
I’ve been on doing print stuff for a little while and am experimenting with different designs. So far, there is one certain design that sells well, and it’s my Duchamp tshirt. Now that’s unexpected! Although of course I can’t read people’s minds. But guys, I have other nice designs too.
My “USP” with the Duchamp shirt is that whoever wears it will be able to impress their friends with this art reference. This 101 year-old artwork had managed to challenge the definition of art, so why hide it in a museum?
I have a weird habit of sleep eating sometimes. I tend to get up at night, go to the kitchen and eat whatever I find. While this sounds funny to most people, my stomach is having a hard time dealing with the late night eating. I wish I could stop, but I don’t seem to have any control over this part of my behavior.
Last night sh*t got even more real. Upon waking up this Sunday morning, I entered the kitchen and remembered that I must have made a coffee at night, at around 3 or 4 AM. I only drank half of the cup and went back to sleep. If there is a God out there, please make me stop.
Please allow for some nonintrusive advertising. I present: My book! It already has a one star review. Here’s my press release:
Modern art* is difficult. Modern art is controversial. A lot of people say modern art is bad. Look up “modern art” on YouTube, and you’ll see a significant amount of people who disapprove of it. Maybe you do, too. I argue that modern art is an important part of our culture, and that art education at schools should include modern forms of making art.
When I was a school student, I loved my art classes. We were taught to draw or paint buildings, animals, landscapes and people. The main premise was, at least during my first years of school, to get the perspective and the proportions right. Basically, I was taught to draw as realistically as possible. But mimicking reality is not what art is about. It’s about reflecting reality. This can be done via a lot of methods, including (but not limited to) visual art.
This book will show you how you can create modern artworks without a giant budget. This book is full of rather sloppy drawings instead of polished Photoshop stuff: I intentionally chose to publish the ideas in the raw state. This book is about ideas, not about products or existing artworks. This book is a mess. At the same time it’s a practical guide, with included explanations as to why this specific idea works as a modern artwork. It’s supposed to inspire you to make your own artworks and exhibit them. You may use these ideas for your installations. Whether you’re a new aspiring artist, an art teacher or someone who likes thinking about art – you will be able to follow my thoughts, and get your own value out of it.
Since this book is not a novel, there is no need to read it in a linear way. It’s made for browsing and thinking.
*I’m using the term Modern Art when referring to modern in general, as opposed to modernism as the time period extending from the 1860s to the 1970s.
Here I am, back again. After a long time of silence: Hello again, dear readership. You might have arrived at this blog via my Instagram, in that case here’s a brief update:
This blog, and this URL, have been around for many years, but I relaunched the blog and got rid of all old entries. There will be a book called “Common People”, and it will contain things I wrote between 2013 and 2014. Anyhow, who cares about my blog, when the average attention span is something like 0,4 seconds? Instagram is probably the better way to go, but I promise you that I will at least consider a blog post more often from now on.