This is the beginning of a 3 part project - I'm still working it out, so appreciate your patience.
The City - is driven by a monologue I started to write about London. I was working a particularly soul destroying admin role in the city and as I sat on the trains staring at my fellow commuters I couldn't help but wonder if this was what they had always imagined for themselves. How many wanted to be policemen, astronauts or an artist ... how many were happy in their roles or just did it to pay the bills.
Working a job I loathed, I felt like I was channelling the joint frustrations of all would be creatives into this monologue. I finished it and forgot about it, working several other jobs (most of them admin) in the meantime.
More recently I've become incredibly interested in the power of online communities and associated tools.
I think the power of the internet in creating communities and allowing eveyrone to find a place where they 'belong' is incredible. Beyond amazing. Especially, as I personally feel traditional communities are failing in many ways ... or at the very least floundering.
My definition of a community is ikely flawed, but I grew up in a small village, where everyone knew each other, were ready with a smile or a good morning. It might sound twee, but there was very little crime and very little disquiet in general. I was quite shocked when I moved down to SE London that my local area lacked the same open friendly attitude and couldn't believe the volumes of petty crime ... Now when I return to the village (where my dad still lives) I'm sad to see that as it's grown over the years, the community spirit has become "thin and sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread" ...(thank you LOTRs) It's not that the sense of community or companionship is totally gone, it's just getting to the point where it struggles to reach into the outlying areas ... petty crime within this now town has increased and it's impossible to keep track of all the residents.
On the other hand, online, communities prevail. People across the globe gathering around a cause or craft with which they identify. The internet so often provides a home and outlet for those estranged from their physical communities (and the abuse of this tool at the hands of trolls is crushing).
Yet, we're looking at two sides of the same coin - the internet is both good and evil, awesome and horrifying ... I'm sitting on the train right now and as I type and stare down the carriage I can count 8 out of the 10 people I can easily see on phones or tablets.
Don't get me wrong, I love the internet. LOVE. IT. I wrote a couple of articles for work on why I think it is amazing and all the good it can do ... but I can't help but notice the irony, that while I am absorbed in the wonders of my fantastic online communities, I am isolated from the people around me. I probably check my social networks more in a day than I do start a conversation with an actual person ... when I do talk to people, I know that it's likely 1 out of 5 conversations will relate to something I saw online ... I avoid making eye contact with any of my fellow commuters and instead choose to stare at my phone, obsessively refreshing pages ... I'm sure many of the people around me are intelligent, articulate and passionate individuals. Maybe we like the same music, or art or films ... I'll probably never find out. I'm not likely to start a conversation with anyone. I realise the above sounds marginally nuts ... but I doubt I'm the only one, it's just become a habit.
And this is something that has inspired me.
I've exchanged obsessively checking my phone on the commute home for drawing those I see on the commute, with a view to create a series of paintings once I've gathered enough subjects.
I have never done any life drawing, so this is very new and exciting for me. I'm learning a lot about the fundementals of life drawing in a pressure free and exceedingly fast paced environment ...
I've been working in this manner for around a week and have narrowed down subjects to those who are so absorbed in what they're doing, they don't register me doodling away opposite them.
I'm also making a point of noting down how many people within my line of sight are: on phones; tablets; reading; or making conversation.
It might seem silly, but these are the first steps in what I think is going to be a great project.