181225 As I gaze at my Facebook friends’ names
Via the algorithms that Facebook programmers have made into a birthday video, and a growing list of birthday wishes I keep on an Excel spreadsheet, I gaze at my desktop screen and think about Facebook as a “work of art.”
This “artwork” is needed to conserve resources. Facebook has saved energy and resources by being a digital way of crossing the space and time that separates us. Facebook is a work of art created by tens of thousands of programmers, stockholders and, yes, spies and hackers.
Facebook is an artwork of greater influence and control than any artwork of the past – even greater than Hollywood blockbusters and video games.
Facebook works because it aims directly to the part of the human brain that controls the masses – the nucleus accumbens, seat of hope and envy. There are few other human creations that command as many human beings’ actions as the algorithms in the lives of people worldwide.
The downfall of mankind, if there will be one, may be hastened by the illusion that hope and envy fulfillment may come by tapping and sweeping mobile screens. Unconstrained by physical action and tangible production, human beings risk making irreversible, fatal mistakes and pass bad judgments.
However, like amazon.com, which has saved untold amounts of energy by saving people automobile trips to do their shopping, the upside of these digital artworks is to keep people in their places at the same time they exercise their hope and envy without extracting huge amounts of energy.
My hope is that a tipping point is reached soon which wakes up people to the fact that human ability to respond to the imminent collapse of Earth’s human life sustainability is coming. Our ability to respond will be decided by restoring balance between production and livelihood.
Which brings me to a case in point. If I collect the names of my Facebook friends who have tapped on their screens to send a simple, “Happy Birthday” message, then what am I contributing toward achieving the balance I seek? If I am worth anything as a sentient human being, aware of the dangers facing Earth’s life sustainability, then what am I doing to avert the risks we face?
Education is key. My hope and envy consist of learning from all this and teaching it. I have been on an educational mission since I was a teenager. To collect the names of Facebook friends and learn as much as I can about them is a step toward learning and teaching how my actions and productions may help Earth’s life sustainability.
Printmaking, I learned, is the root of all technologies and such digital artworks as Facebook and amazon are the scions of print. Like the growth tip of plants, I learned about in botany, they are the outermost reaches of the known universe of algorithms. Yet it is from the deep root of printing they came.
Producing an international printmaking center incubator and work places business, I can help achieve balance between production and livelihood.