[-empyre-] Week 2: in response to Ana the Simons

Renate Terese Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Wed May 20 06:49:29 AEST 2015

Dear Ana Simon and Simon Taylor,

I have been in the midst of end of the semester grading so please forgive
me for my silence this past day and a half. Certainly busy but not bored
It¹s interesting that the research done by Thomas Goetz was actually done
on adolescents. Simon your personal description of your youthful days
spent on the isolated surf on the Southern Ocean in Australia threw me
into a screen
memory of my own childhood.

My ocean of expanse and isolation was that of the green landscape of rural
Upstate New York.  Growing up in a lower middle class
family in the country there was no one to interact with but my three
considerably younger siblings, TV was an option for only for certain
designated times of the week. I spent hours scheming imaginative daydreams
and reading books and magazines from the weekly Bookmobile that came to
the town once a week. What I also filled my summer days with were
opportunities to teach myself how to make things: to play piano, to sew,
to plant, to refinish old furniture, to knit and of course my favorite to
bake all in early
adolescence.  It was a few years later that drawing and artistic
production became my pastime. Ironically I took the sublime landscape for
granted basically ignoring it except during my bouts of occasional
springtime hay fever.

Ana you write about studying hard to fight against the feeling of emptiness
We worked and talked and studied and fought against the feeling of
emptiness. In a world without television radio newspapers or books we
became carriers of narrative, as in Fahrenheit 451 we
became books we memorized and shared books we had read earlier. Boredom
was not present in our world but tediousity was always present.
A positive platform for creative thinking and making resulted from the
adverse (in Ana¹s case) or less than ideal situations in both Simon and
my. Conditions of tedium provided the impetus for positive generative
activity or a something from monotony. In thinking about the condition of
contemporary digital culture our boredom stems from too much of something
according to a campaign by National Public Radio in the US.  A program
dubbed Bored and Brilliant is the brainchild of New Tech City's host
Manoush Zomorodi.  Zomorodi invites her followers to abandon their
phones to substitute a non-mediated activity. Though I see this campaign
as a media ploy to get more followers, the campaign boasts a platform for
those already overwhelmed who have too much of something to make a
substitution with something else: structure replacing structure.

We have choices as users of technology to manage our technology. Those
choices can be structured to potentially reap the positive benefits of
technologies connectedness.
To finish I will simply ask a question.  Can we structure boredom?  Can we
simulate those conditions in Australia or upstate New York or Ana¹s prison
to provide the catalyst for boredom that allows for a space for
creativity? Or is it more complex.  Is it really the emptiness of boredom
or perhaps the energy of stillness that allows for these creative

Simon Taylor thanks for the great quotations.  Any thoughts about the
energy of stillness or structuring boredom to wholeness?


Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
Ithaca, NY  14853
Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>

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