The Internet and Me

How I am arriving at being a Creator of My Content...

On publicly forming my own individual form of creative art.

The internet brought me back to being able to be a creative person as an evolutionary process and it's still a work in progress. I do not consider myself an artist as much as a creator of content since the internet provides a platform for me to share my integrated creative works. The web provides the platform, the canvas and gallery if you will, for me to express myself and share it with an audience. My concept is combining my writing, photography and videography onto a mezzanine of creative expression that crosses genres. It's taken me a number of years, over a decade and a half, to develop the message and skills I want to transmit into something more specific. The technology of the web opened the expressive creative process for me and all art is evolutionary process. It's only recently that I understand the particular type of content I want to create therefore promoting it has not been foremost but the priority has been more fully forming it.

When I started college I majored in Art (ending up with a minor in Art History) to learn better drawing and photography with the realistic understanding that meant either teaching or working in graphic design as a practical matter for income. The experience was constraining and confining to me since it seemed to involve mimicking a lot of standard styles and techniques that were tried and true from famous artists and works, in the guise of learning to create your own style. It was very imitative, not innovative and to me did not logically follow a path to my goal of creating individual unique work. In that era the art world of all genres was a confining closed society and restrictive including the very thing we are struggling with today: copyrights. I lost interest in trying to break through those barriers, changed majors and for decades the only creative activity I did was photography and small collages for my own walls.

Although I had been online a long time the internet opened up a whole new world for me around 1995 with the advent of the World Wide Web. It wasn't until 2005 with YouTube and video sharing of individually created videos along with Blogger and blogging that I started to use learn how to use those tools. The learning curve was occurring and my inspiration was slow in developing. The real advance in my creative endeavors began in 2009 when my friend Caylyn taught me video editing. At the same time I decided to also create blog entries every day as a discipline and to learn even more skills and tools of websites. I rarely read the manuals and still barely nor do I follow "the rules." I use what equipment is available to me and I learn from different people and whoever is willing to teach me as well as trial and error. There is a lot to be said for pure observation also of what not to do and what to do.

It is due to the internet I've been able to learn a lot in multiple ways and quite unintentionally built a small audience. Everything I've learned from social and creative websites is only now beginning to fall into place and Google+ has come along at a good time for me. I was an early invite and it has been good as a sort of public square to share my thoughts, things that interest me, learn from others and stimulate my website blog traffic. I am a small fish in a big pond with an astonishing following of around 3300 that somewhat overwhelms me since I've never had more than 400-500 subscribers/followers on any website. I'm not in the league of those photographers, bloggers, artists who have 33,000 followers and nowhere near a Thomas Hawk or Chris Brogan and not sure I want to be.

What I believe is the internet is wonderful for those of us who will never get and do not necessarily want a mass market following to have a venue to share our work with people who appreciate it regardless of their number. I am just now beginning to understand what it is I want to achieve creatively in an individual way and what direction I'm taking all the while still developing and growing.

It's a constantly evolving process that is being formed openly for the entire world to see on the internet. My personal creative satisfaction though is what is paramount and I share on the web for those who might be interested, go for the ride and give me feedback to achieve improvement. It is not for ego or financial gain. As my audience increases I consider that a byproduct of my creative growth but not something to be sought after as the primary goal. I view that as defeating the purpose and probably why I'll never be "big time." The internet has been a communications tool that allows me and millions of other people to express themselves creatively and reach as many or as few people as they are able to without a producer, editor, manager, agent, lawyer or any other middleman.

Urban Cool In Urban Heat Island

Eclipses all others on the road...


Desolation Row

Gated and barred leads no place worthwhile...

Life Has Curves

Bend with them, don't try to straighten them out...

Think how boring it would be if everything were in straight lines, tracked out and fitted neatly into a box. How dull life would be if everything followed a pattern, was as simple as putting everything in a cut and dried order and structures built, food grown in tasteless batches, clothes were in three colors and styles. Routes taken and paths followed by a predetermined cartography system and deviation wasn't even possible. What if art was all paint-by number? Music a series of ordered notes? Actors recited recurrent scripts? The curve, in nonlinear fashion goes outside the norm, deviating from the groove, twists and shapes objects, souls and intellects into something else to spark new and different thoughts on how to do things. Chiefly it is a passage to innovation, creative expression and ideas that stimulate life and gratifies the spirit and the mind.


Thursday Morning 05:00 AM

Sunrise at traffic light through passenger window...

The Sky Darkened

It was a dark and stormy night...

Then I awoke.

Recently I've been having one of those momentary periods that many of us get. My personal name for this flat aura is "My Anxiety" and occurs occasionally, for reasons not always clear at first although I know what seemingly minor events pull the triggers. The cycles begin with feeling anxious hosted by multiple demons which are uncertainty over the future, my perceptions of the world and a doubt about my creative ability. Like Jesus casting out the demons in the possessed man I start the process of doing that within myself. When these moods occur it is critical to remember that just as they arrive unannounced and unwanted they'll go away in pretty much the same manner. They cannot be left to work themselves out on their own though for that may call up Churchill's Black Dog and instead requires determination to be rid of the hangdog.

It is work that has to be done if I'm to get beyond it. The moods range from feeling deflated, being tired accompanied by overall body ache, spells of black and blue mood that are occasionally illuminated from the firmament through windows of rational thinking. It is the skylight of the rational thinking I have learned to seize and sort out reality that almost always follows the same pattern. There is nothing wrong with my life, actually I'm quite fortunate that I've been able to structure my life to be relatively stress free, comfortable and content, secure in my possessions, my abilities and my relationships. The conclusion is always the same, some chemical reaction has occurred in my system that needs to be worked out. Over the years I've learned what tools I need to get from the workroom and implement them.

During these periods it would be easier if I could just pick them up, deploy them and the interlude is then quickly over. Not so fast, time is one of the elements in recovery and it ticks on its own clock while recalling that motivation has also been dealt a surly blow. It would be nice if there was a one-size formula already worked out in some self help plan but in actuality what works for one person doesn't work for another. When people ask I let them know what works for me with the caveat that the solutions are arrived by individual sojourn until the Blue Box works for them and breaks their code. It is never arrived at completely and cannot be given up, if one thing does not work it is critical to continue and try another.

Nevertheless the knowledge itself is enough and once learned the process is shortened, the interlude limited and the darkness more a muted light gray than what at one time in my life was black. This recent installment explains my recent interest in taking photographs in black and white in the urban landscape and writing less. As these things go I knew it would pass and just as quickly as it descended and was recognized it has also lifted and passed. Not without some work and effort coupled with unwanted angst and confusion and cleansing out of the archfiends this storm has passed over.

My term "My Anxiety" came from my friend Maryann, who I've been thinking and wondering about.


Beware The Spine Of Prickly Pear

It's deceptive and bears fruit and flowers...

Be aware of things in your surroundings that seem hostile but underneath the barbed exterior may serve as protection.

The prickly pear cactus with its paddle shaped pads that are actually branches and stems modified for desert living seems foreboding but has purpose as do most living things. Woe to that animal or human who disregards its self protection mechanism of spines. Like most plants and animals those spines are the products of a long history of adapting to its environment and serving as a defense against hostile forces.

This plant has functional purposes though within it to maintain itself but also is deceptively productive and serves several objectives. Although it looks unlikely it bears a fruit that is edible as well as the pad branches are a source of food. Acting as a host within its domain for other plants it serves as a fortress protecting them. It also is a water storage cistern to be used as a source for hydration as well as bears beautiful rose like flowers that enlighten the environment around it once a year. Pay attention and be aware of things in your surroundings that seem hostile but underneath the barbed exterior may serve as protection and as a source of ingenious resources.


My Stop SOPA Protest Support

Don't know what the SOPA and PIPA legislation is and what the fuss is about?

SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act and you can read "What is SOPA?" on Gizmodo's website and CNET News has ongoing coverage "SOPA bill draws fire."  SOPA is a US Congressional House bill that has a counterpart in the US Senate called PIPA and PCWorld's article "SOPA and PIPA: Just the facts" provides an explanation of who and why are for or against the bills. Many well know websites used daily are "going dark" or protesting in some method today and WebProNews article "SOPA Blackout Set For January 18th: Here's All The Info" gives a list and explanation of sites participating.

My support for the protest is based on several objections. First and foremost it is the US Congress interfering with something they know nothing about, the internet and the World Wide Web and its infrastructure. They are attempting to interfere with the tradition of free exchange of information on what is now the primary method of communication on multiple levels and is a complex network with an infrastructure not easily altered for political ideologies. Especially since those political motives are promoted and funded by lobbying special interest groups of major media and entertainment corporations.

The magnificent thing about the internet is that it has allowed millions of people such as myself not only access to unprecedented information and ability to communicate but be able to become our own content providers. Content providers without contracts, controlled by conglomerates and censored by social groups and the political and bureaucratic classes. I am able to have my own small dedicated following of people who appreciate my creative endeavors and publish those works myself under protection of my name and Creative Commons licensing. No lawyers, agents, middlemen, exclusive distribution channel needed.


Central Corridor

Metro living on the grid plan...

Phoenix is like many western cities and streets are built on a square mile grid plan with a planned number design. The entire state as a matter of fact was laid out by the General Land Office under the Public Land Survey System with a system originally proposed by Thomas Jefferson. The system in integral to American history and lore including railroad line grants, use of the metric system, land grant schools and the phrase "forty acres and a mule." The grid street plan makes for easy traversing across and around the city. The Phoenix Light Rail System works its way around the plan primarily the Central and Camelback Corridors, Washington-Jefferson Street Corridor and Apache Boulevard as well as 19th Avenue until it is expanded.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is laid out based on an arterial grid with section lines using a meridian and baseline (hence Baseline Road) and is divided north and south by Washington Street and east and west by Central Avenue, known as the Central Corridor. The street numbering plan to a newcomer can be confusing at first until it's fixed in the mind that numbered streets (such as 24th Street) are east of Central Avenue and primary streets are even numbered while numbered avenues (for examples 19th Avenue) are on the west side of Central Avenue and the main avenues are odd numbered.

There are variations on the theme due to irregularities in terrain, surveying, historical and practical matters such as freeways and the canal system that provides water within the central portion of the original Phoenix metro and nearby outlying communities. Many of the east to west primary roads have become miles long corridors in their own right. Most of my life has been spent in the Camelback Corridor intersecting with either 32nd Street or the Central Corridor. The Valley of the Sun would be snarled like some east coast city if it wasn't for simple navigation with the application of grid blocks in the urban landscape.


Standing In Line At USPS

Taking number 83 next...

Black and White Make Gray

Not necessarily a blue mood...

Admittedly I would not like to live in a place that rains a lot, gray clouds are the norm and the landscape seemingly bleak. We've experienced gray clouds and rather stark skies this past weekend for desert country that is usually bright and clear. Some would say that the desert is austere and monochromatic but since I know where and how to look for the beauty and color I think not.

Therefore I tend to view a gray and bare day as a rare opportunity to explore how to make it have a life of its own and discover the hidden beauty in it. I'm supposing that people who live in that type of climate all the time and like it do the same thing as those of us who enjoy the desert do. As a matter of fact I've come to think that the real art in living and creative endeavors is not what strikes you right away. It is that which is subtle and the allure takes time to absorb its values that make it attractive.

In reality whether urban or rural the aesthetic must be sought since it rarely makes itself obvious immediately. Taking photographs in color is wonderful because color bursts out at you and makes itself known right away to be worked with. Working in black and white or with sepia and other forms of monochromatic pictures is another application of art of itself. Both are satisfying but the challenge is enhancing the beauty that is not quite so evident. The education is that this is a case of art imitating how to live life.


Musical Aspirations On A Hook

Instruments in abeyance...

Waiting to be plugged in and fill the air with music.

At one time played by someone these four and five bass string guitars were pawned for one reason or another. Perhaps the owner lost interest, discovered they weren't very good at playing, were a trade in or worse needed the money and had to sacrifice a beloved instrument for cold hard cash. They hang waiting in silence to be become alive again and fill the air with their back beat sound to enrapture the player either alone, with a small group of family and friends or perhaps even in public performance. No matter the skill and ability of someone who might want to play one of these guitars, it is almost shameful they're in a landfill of silent musical equipment.

Ray Charles said: "I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water."

All creative people feel that way I think, I don't remember a time I didn't want to create something and was fortunate who had parents and family that encouraged it. They endured my learning to play piano and guitar and learning to sing. They praised my writing, drawing, painting and photography efforts while offering kind and helpful suggestion on how to improve. Whether creativity is in the arts, in thinking and philosophy or sciences, whether the skill is small, level or great it should be encouraged to develop the mind and soul. It is a seed to enrich life and should be planted, cultivated and grown to its fullest potential if only to satisfy the individuals own essence to give it courage and enrich the spirit.


Camelback Mountain

Sentinel palms keeping surveillance...

From Dusk To Dawn

Sunset, Full Moon Night, Sunrise...

Sleeping and Waking: The nocturnal habits of a productive night owl.

As a night person I'm somewhat forced into a life of days but luckily not completely. Due to my work arrangement I can adjust my hours to accommodate my productive hours between 17:00 in the evening through 02:00 the next morning. Fortunately my circadian rhythms allow me to sleep in two shifts, a good sleep of five to six hours that is all I usually need, with a two hour nap later. On the three-four mornings I may have to be up by 05:00 I generally try not to stay up later than midnight for common sense reasons.

This means I usually have the opportunity to see the beautiful sunsets we have in Arizona. Also I enjoy the moon and since it usually rains in the urban desert during the night the joy of it and rumbling thunder is mine. At dawn I indulge in the elegant sunrises we are privileged to experience in the Valley of the Sun. After hours are my hours although I do spend time during daylight to absorb the waking world and natural light.

These three photographs were taken within a 72 hour period this past week and are a sampling of what we experience on a regular basis in this urban landscape and include a night of a full moon. Living in a desert city has its rewards and is full of environmental splendor of weather, sky, unique vegetation and wildlife.


I Want To Be Like A Tree

With skills to adapt wherever I am...

A Palo Verde adding value to the universe surrounding me.

A tree with a deep taproot for lean years and shallow surface roots for abundant years to sustain myself under different circumstances and keep the earth around me from eroding. With a trunk that is sturdy, sinewy and strong, protected by bark and able to withstand high winds and stormy weather. With a system of stems to support tissue and disseminate cells for good health and a reason to be optimistic about the world that surrounds me. Branches that grow long and hardy with twigs to grow leaves rich in oxygen production and carbon dioxide reduction.

It would be alright by me to be any tree, deciduous or evergreen, large or small, rainforest or desert, any climate in between. In a climate with a lot of rain opportunity is almost always there to make the most of. In an arid hot and dry one using resources wisely is paramount and advantageous.

My choice though is to be like a Palo Verde tree that has overhanging and sweeping branches that provide shade in the hot desert. My capital would be spent wisely and stockpiled for the dry spells and in rainy seasons bloom yellow flowers to germinate. I would live hundreds of years, see epochs of history, provide shade and shelter for people and animals, survive and thrive to benefit the geography of life that surrounds me.