Bound Together in a Digital Age

I constantly reflect on this:

The beauty of being able to connect with anyone in the world through the digital (our Skypes chats) is surely one of the great poems of our times – we are all alive and telling each other so, each in our unique individual way – a scenario which has perhaps, the potential to shape one of the greatest poems of all time.

Section 23 of Song of Myself is a reflection of Whitman’s relationship with the marvelous times in which he lived – when scientific and technological discovery were exploding – so similar to today, in that respect.

The thing is this, I am one who remembers the time when there were no computers – my experience of this world encompasses the beginning of this digital age, and I never cease to marvel at it. The implications of this age and the potential held within it are huge. There are many people looking at this age, which is being called the Anthropocene, who are applying their thoughts to the mind-boggling questions that are constantly being raised – questions which concern us all.

Connection is different to communication. Communication just for the sake of it and over communication, are potentially damaging, distracting us from that which we really want to engage with – as with all good things (and, I say again, computers are wonderful, miraculously-enabling things) there are dangers.

Painting is as pertinent now as it ever was – an existential/physical/reflective tool which can be used to try to clarify what it is to be alive – a state in which we are on common ground. One of the greatest dangers of these times is the danger of propaganda, made possible only through digital means so filtering everything through one’s own self is vital.

The directness of painting can be employed to act, potentially, as a mirror for its audience, to intimate, share in something inherent in it and embodied by it, that can act to revitalise the sense of being alive. For me when standing in front of an artwork with which I connect at a deep level, and when I am actually painting it, I feel extra alive. Whitman’s poetry also makes me feel the same way.  I strive, as an artist, to energise and eventually perhaps empower an audience with a sense of the poetic possibility that they themselves represent simply by being alive, living, existing.

There is something of that which I am trying to say in the following lines from Whitman’s Song of Myself:

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
The above lines are from Section 2, which has instigated many of my paintings, including the one on the easel in the header image of this post (taken by me in the studio this Summer).
The painting, yet to be titled (oil on aluminium, 127 x 125cm) is also shown at the end of this post.
and a link to Section 2 of Song of Myself, in its entirety:


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