7 actions for squeezing a drop of genuine love from the internet.
This collection was compiled by Fei Liu for The Creative Independent x Are.na's Library of Practical and Conceptual Resources.
Concentrate on a photo of your friend. Really, really, look at them. Let your eyes rest on them. Let your wrist, extended by the organ of a pen or brush, follow their form. Choose colors that illuminate them.
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"I was feeling a disconnect between my desire to keep in touch and connect with others and my use of social media or messaging apps. In person, I am looking someone in the eye, putting my hand on their arm, listening fully and being heard fully. I would post but the likes felt meaningless. When my impulse to connect is transactional, the feedback is just as hollow. Like 4 like. I "like" but the click neither reflects how I feel about what I see, nor my heartfelt appreciation for the existence of my friends. Then there's the peanut gallery of lurkers and critics, and the spectre of professionalism, all bearing down on an otherwise intimate interaction of sharing and having someone share with you.
I used to be an avid letter writer. I remembered the thrill when one came in the mail. When I wrote, I would sit at my desk and think of one person who I missed, and pack an envelope up with anecdotes and drawings I hoped would entertain -- and ship it off without expectation of response. It's like sending a present in the mail, but without the commodity in the stream of commerce or the pressure of giving/receiving a dollar value. Even better, there is no amorphous third viewer. The experience is a blissful one on one. I returned to letter writing and found it to be an escape from the simulacrum of connection on the plane of social media...
...I had this calendar by a Cape Verde artist Alexandra Gapihan that featured hyperreal portraits of her friends' pets, each dressed with a short caption about the pet's personality. Even if I had a tough month, when I flipped the new page, the love between the artist, her dear friend, and the beloved pet was palpable and never ceases to delight. Here was a dog who sat patiently on his owner's scooter that one time, or the naughty cat who's always stealing bites of fish. Taking the cue, I started drawing simple sketches of friends or their loved ones or pets and sending them off. I'm no artist. The sketches have no value to anyone but the recipient. And for some people it's a real novelty to be the subject of a painting, but for me it takes as long as writing a letter, and carries the same emotion. I want to send people a painting saying, I see you, I am having a sustained, dedicated thought about this moment, and I am grateful you are in my life." -- Kira Lum, aka @lumsaoying