LARPing as a Compassionate Boulder
Posted by <DJ Meisner> on 2022-10-15
Formally trained in photography, you are well aware of the slippery history of image-making. This awareness became burdensome; you stopped taking pictures as a means of art making. It wasn’t making anymore, it was thinking about what to do with it afterwards. You read War and Cinema and Forensic Architecture and Blank Spots on the Map and Life in the Age of Drone Warfare and (W)Archives and Astro Noise and now you can’t think about the picture you’re taking, and you don’t know if you like it anymore, not the picture but taking a picture. You used to think that it was a confession of desire–I want to remember this– but then you were taking pictures of yourself crying, because of the end of a relationship or because of an attempt. The thought was that if you remember the bad times, that sticky and complicated dread, then maybe you could keep it from happening again. You could learn from it. But you mistook learning for being taught, as learning is an active process. Brutally oversimplified: you thought that taking pictures of you practicing attempts on your life could substitute an actual examination of what difficult world would push you to make that decision in the first place. And this internal photo-theory spiral doesn’t even talk about the military! Or surveillance! Or the number of other worlds that have taken photography under its wing!
This is why you recently started painting; you just wanted to stop fucking thinking about it. You wanted a thing to do with your hands so the world felt less sharp. You chose watercolor because it is hard; you couldn’t just paint something you would’ve taken a picture of. So you make abstract watercolor paintings because it makes your mind go quiet. But maybe you get hungry, or start feeling nauseous or lonely, and now it’s all loud again. And the paintings stack up, out of necessity really, but they look unfinished. They feel unfinished. You use a pen plotter to superimpose the images and documents and phrases and poems that noodle around in your head: Cell Tower Patents, Shift Work Disorder in MarioKart font, Everything is Embarrassing lyrics, The leader of The Finders, Huawei, Tetsuya Yamagami’s DIY-gun, Instructions on How to Make a Thermite Grenade, Art in the After-Culture, Anthony Fauci’s salary, that one horrendous ‘essay’ Jake Tapper wrote in 2003.
You hope that your art is doing what you want it to: make something pretty so others hear you, and then show them that you didn’t have to adjust your world view to sympathize with QAnon believers, with anti-vaxxers, with those keeping up with Pizzagate, New World Order, 9/11 truthers, HAARP and chemtrails. You feel relief, even hope, that nobody can tolerate pretending that things are okay. You spent two years of your life ill from a pandemic that senators knew about and then insider-traded instead of doing anything to benefit public health. And now you pay off the mounting debt for ER visits that didn’t even help, visits to specialists who did nothing either. You had health insurance, pretty good health insurance, and you’re still in debt from it. And relatively speaking, you had it better than a majority of people! From all of this, all you have is compassion. You think the military has a weather control machine? Honestly I don’t know why you’d think otherwise. You think Pfizer didn’t have the best intentions? You’re right, it's a business! There’s a reason Purdue didn’t make a COVID vaccine: they already screwed the pooch with Oxycontin. Who in their right mind in middle America would’ve taken the Sackler Vax? And in reality (if you even believe in that), the conspiracy theories don’t do the brutality justice. You think they put microchips in the boosters? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but they literally don’t need to, you already have it in your hand right now! You don’t know how right you are.
In short, you hope it brings compassion. But ultimately, you don’t make art to send a message, to take a stand and fight the good fight and punch up and hold space and verb noun verb noun. You make it because, dear christ, you’d like to head-empty-no-thoughts your way between shifts at the shop.