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Plane Food: Shadows and Facebook

Juxtapoz // Friday, 14 May 2010

It all started with takeoff. While peering out of the plane, rapidly snapping photos of clouds (perhaps I was having a Glen Friedman moment), I was struck by the shadows they cast. We all see shadows everyday. Virtually every object in existence has the ability to cast one, but I’d never really seen a shadow the way I saw these.


Each and every cloud cast a unique shadow onto the ocean below due to the simple power and presence of the sun. Shadows are inescapable; omnipotent and unavoidable. The sun, any amount of light, provides radiance to see an object in many ways. A good artist knows this and often devotes much time developing their understanding and correct use of lighting.


By nature, shadows are a reflection of their object. This is literal and metaphorical, as shadows are often referred to as the negative side of a person or situation; their ‘dark’ side. Every object and person has more sides to it and what ultimately defines it, is how you respond. The shadow looks differently at every moment of the day. What angle and time of day we choose to define the object or person has every impact on how we perceive it.


This led me to think about the nature of humans and our increasingly connected, fast-paced, and sometimes overly exposed, society. It got me thinking about art and why it’s so important.


On a basic level, art unites people. It creates an anecdotal grand historical narrative, a collective reference through time that any person is invited to enter. You only have to be interested to join in this ongoing conversation. Art takes you out of the everyday, out of oneself, out of the mundane and fleeting. It transports you to an intellectual, emotional, communal space where you can get as serious or as playful as you want. Even if you only see a piece of work once, or never, you are invited to carry it with you for as long as you see fit.


This in turn got me pondering how this collective value might be shifting. People personally interact with one another less and less. Children don’t play outside as much or explore as feely. There are many good reasons for this, but I think there are also hazards. Kids increasingly spend their formative years attached to cell phones, videogames, TVs, movies, the internet, and Facebook. Technology can be freeing, connecting, and informative. But it can be concerning in this context because without the value of real communities, the face to face tangible interaction, we loose out on a special nuanced space that is created when creative minds – or even developing creative minds – gather and advance.


I wonder how this will affect young emerging youth to develop unique and innovative ideas and artwork. Museums, galleries, classrooms, playgrounds, and even city streets offer immeasurable knowledge; an open space waiting to cradle collective thought, experimentation, failure, and success.


I love online venues and utilize the internet daily. I’ve kept in touch and reconnected with countless friends on Facebook. I’ve gotten feedback on ideas and projects. But this is always the second step in the process. The first must be the raw experience of meeting a person or formulating the project. To reconnect with someone on Facebook, you must have already developed the relationship somewhere else. You must foster the idea to be able to invite it into the online world.


Art is one of history’s greatest gifts, but it must be recognized, fostered, and preserved. It must be treated as a living entity to be interacted with, to breathe new life into, and keep growing so that the amazing feats of the past are not lost. I’m excited about the future and intensely curious about where it will go.


This was my plane food while coming home.  --Katie Z



“’Who controls the past,’ read the Party slogan, ‘controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.’”




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