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

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Wed May 20 10:07:46 AEST 2015

Having a teenage son it's interesting to see how he deals with boredom. He sees being bored as a form of failure - as if he isn't making enough of life - or life isn't coming to him. We point out that being bored is a really important part of life - that it's when you have the opportunity to be bored and exploit it that you begin to have the time to be creative. I think he gets it. Last night we were talking about this and his observation was that advertising and other forms of cultural conditioning place enormous pressure on kids (and people) to consume and be consumed - to always be 'on'. There is no allowance for down-time, no permission to be bored - just the constant pressure to be performing, at school and socially. Pervasive social media seems to have amplified this - leaving no escape.



Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk


simon.biggs at unisa.edu.au
Professor of Art, University of South Australia

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk
Honorary Professor, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh

> On 20 May 2015, at 06:19, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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
> <snip>
> 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.
> <snip>
> 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
> interventions?
> Simon Taylor thanks for the great quotations.  Any thoughts about the
> energy of stillness or structuring boredom to wholeness?
> Best, 
> Renate
> 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/>
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> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
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