technology

Digital Sabbath

Digital Sabbath. Not a new idea by any means, but one being thrown around lately. Can you unplug to be with your loved ones for a day, half a day or even an hour? This conundrum we have found ourselves in happened so quickly, most of us can probably trace our rapid plunge into this new reality phone contract by phone contract along with evolving technology. If you have observed young children these days, this is the only reality that they know.

For a little insight into this experiment and experience, please find some paper and jot down a few reasons for not unplugging yourself. Now find a time and some people you enjoy hanging out with for some eye contact, conversation and other activities, preferably in a place which doesn’t have any screens. Turn off your devices and tuck them away somewhere safe. Have your friend or friends do the same. When you return, let the experience sink in for a few hours and then jot down some feelings connected to this experience . What exactly did you miss about your machine? Are you finding it hard to just simply communicate with others as we rely more and more on texts and documenting our world. Good Luck. If you succeeded in this adventure and enjoyed it, could you try it again for a longer period of time?

Yesterday’s project: Were you able to learn more about neuroplasticity. Did any of the information encourage you to try tackle something new?

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Neuroplasticity and art

Neuroplasticity is a newer idea emerging into pop culture. At its simplest level, it means that our brains are actually much more mailable than we ever thought possible, allowing us to stretch to the limits to learn new things and accommodate for deficits. This topic has been written about extensively, even for lay people not well versed in neuroscience. How can this apply to art and how can this apply to you? In many ways, this paradigm shift in thinking puts us front in center of having a lot of control over our lives. In the past, we could blame our genes and other factors for limitations. As new studies emerge, it is clear that we really can tap into parts of ourselves to expand our creativity and learn new things. It turns out that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For today’s art project, we will just spend some time wrapping our head around this idea if it is a new one for you. The following link is of a TED talk on this topic if you want a more in-depth understanding of this fascinating topic: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/michael_merzenich_on_the_elastic_brain.html

For an art project to accompany this idea, please find some paper, and write down some things you didn’t think you could do ( things within reason, please avoid things like getting super hero powers etc) such as learning a new language, to speak in a public venue, master a new hobby or skill, write a book etc…Write down your fear or the first thing that comes to mind which might prevent you from following through with some of these plans. With this newfound knowledge of neuroplasticity, do these excuses for not trying something new still make sense? Can you pick one thing off of this list to try? Can you try this new thing for 30 days?

TEDx

Are you familiar with TED and the TEDx phenomenon? If you have not discovered this remarkable website please check out http://www.TED.com. I am including this information about the wonders of TED and their concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading” to promote this incredible source of information and my own TEDx event. I have secured the license to host a TEDx event in my city. This event will take place on 10/17/12 at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas. The theme of the event is “Game Changers” and speakers include: an Art Therapist, Theoretical Physicist, a Plant Geneticist and several other game changers in their respective fields.

This event will be live streamed through my website, http://www.tedxoverlandpark.com, and more information can be found on the soon to be released IPhone App called TEDxOverlandPark. Thanks!

Write a Letter With Real Paper

Are you feeling overwhelmed by technology and underwhelmed by sincere communication these days? Today we will explore this growing predicament. Please find some real paper and a real writing utensil. Think of someone important in your life and carve out a chunk of time to write this person a real letter.  As you write, maybe even take a risk and share personal feelings in the letter to this person, or just recount your day, current activities etc. How does it feel to communicate this way? Can you find a stamp, the person’s address and mailbox and follow through these tedious steps to communicate? Before you mail it, hang on to the letter for a day. You might want to add more or just admire this form of communication before you send it away. Be aware of your feelings as you do this exercise… How does it feel to use your time to acknowledge someone else? How does it feel to reveal your handwriting to a loved one? Are you anticipating how the recipient will feel to find this letter in their mailbox? Good Luck. Maybe you will receive a hand written letter in return!

Yesterday’s project: How is your attitude these days? What type of inclement weather did you place yourself in and how did it feel? Did you draw yourself with things for protection against the elements such as an umbrella if it was raining or gloves if it was snowing? This art exercise can reflect our attitude of how we drew ourselves in the situation. If you created yourself unprepared and then complained about it, is there something you can do about it to alter this by adding some protection and thus improving your attitude? Can you take responsibility of the person in the image or do you blame someone or something else for the predicament of being outside in inclement weather. Does this image reflect your attitude in your life?  Art making is often quite revealing because we have no experience of putting up our “defenses” in what we create, so the truth is usually right in front of us when feelings and attitudes are drawn rather than spoken. If this exercise revealed a part of yourself that needs further exploration, please find a loved one to share your feelings with whom you trust.

Technology Overload

Do you feel like your life is being overrun by smartphones, email, social media sites, and computers ? This growing love affair with our machines is altering the way the interact with the world. The paradigm shift happened so quickly, it might be interesting to make a personal time line of our growing reliance on our devices.

Find some paper and a pen or pencil. This art exercise might take the form of a comic strip layout, or it might be  a long line at the bottom of the page. Think back to your first machine..maybe it was an Apple Macintosh if you are as old as me, maybe it was a cell phone or even a fax machine. Start there, add more of the machines you purchased as you travel along your time line. As you add each machine, think how this has improved your life, or made it more complicated. Most likely, this exercise will give you perspective on our current scenario.  Do you see a pattern of these machines improving or hindering your real human social interactions?

Yesterday’s project: Boundaries are a gigantic topic and our self-esteem is truly intertwined with how well we defend our boundaries. Although no one can define what an appropriate boundary is for you, when you cross the line you have set for yourself, the feeling is often one of shame and regret. This is true for physical, sexual, emotional and even verbal interactions. Occasionally if our boundaries are too high, we might be missing out on making authentic connections with people in our lives.  Were you able to recognize some areas of your life that need work on the topic of boundaries? Defending the boundary we set for ourselves always results in a feeling of pride and self-worth. We will revisit this topic again in this blog through other art directives.