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Topic: Stopping

Egon Schiele Die Familie, 1918, oil on canvas, 150 × 160.8 cm (59  × 63.3 in.)


The first week or so after things started getting whacky (by getting whacky I mean “teaching virtually amidst the backdrop of an emerging global pandemic”), I was trying to maintain a sense of normalcy but it is becoming increasingly clear to me things are not normal. I had originally scheduled this week to be the topic of workaholism and burnout as they relate to the gig economy, however those feels like not the right things to be talking about.

To use some of the Sillicon Valley parlance that came up a bit more with Mike Monteiro’s book, this situation is disruptive. I’m personally in that “I should start that podcast” state, or getting closer to it, but this situation is a not a design problem to solve. That being said, I’m trying to advocate an awareness and honestly about how the situation changes you and use this class as a forum to talk more productively about it; with the product not necessarily being “good” design, art, or even any design or art. 

“Mental” versus “bodily” learning

One of the takeaways I’d like to focus on that I probably have brought up implicitly is to notice and think more about mental versus bodily learning. For example, while you can watch infinity Photoshop tutorials (that is to say, you can absorb the information mentally), your confidence and “efficacy” in that program will come from actually using the problem, and adapting tutorials for arbitrary creative situations (using your body). In the context of this week, in terms of your response and just, being a human, think about what you can now do, what your body “allows” you to do and your honesty with yourself about your mental state and how you can change it (if that’s what you want to do).

To give more context, I’ve had creative “blocks” before that were caused by mental health, but also just straight up being out of ideas (not that I’m not saying “inspiration” here). I have enough experience with those times to have faith that I will figure it out, have new ideas, make more stuff. However, to get to that point I have to weather the storm of no ideas, bad ideas, and new growing baby ideas.  

Required readings/viewings

Not required, but additional context

Questions & ideas to ask yourself while reading/viewing these things

  • How does this situation alter my making/practice?
  • Is my personal inclination in this kind of situation to “aikido” a solution out of it? Do I want to stop? What is fruitful and generative about taking the time for self-care/meditation that is not art or design? 
  • It’s both cliché and unhelpful to say this situation is unprecedented. What is similar and different about now and situations like the spread of the influenza in 1918, the financial crisis in 2008, HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s and 1990’s, 2009 Swine flu, the Great Depression? What is my lived experience with or knowledge of any of those contexts? 

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