86: A programmer, photographer, and video producer walk into a cafe
The Fieldwork: “A programmer, photographer, and video producer walk into a cafe”
“Was that a stand reminder?”
The well-dressed gentleman in front of me just got back to his seat after a minute’s worth of walking and stretching. A peek of his Apple Watch was visible from his sleeve cuff.
The shared experiences of our devices allowed for an in toward conversation. Mostly I was craving a bit of human interaction—simple talking, being in the prescence of other creatures. New York has been my home for the week. I refuse to call it a vacation, a self-imposed residency tickles my fancy a bit better. With the occasional meals with friends out and studio visits, I’ve been keeping to myself a bit and its been integral to my mental state.
“Yeah,” he laughed to himself, “it’s a helpful little thing on the wrist.”
“Oh, I would have one of those with me too but I’m visiting from St. Louis!”
A second person surrounding me at this café’s table steps from shadows of complete stranger to conversationalist with a shared experience. She asks about my MacBook Air and how it works with photo editing. I notice the large telephoto zoom lens calmly resting in front of her and now the three of us are riffing about workflows. The conversation ranged from compiling Objective-C code, to Tamagotchi’s lack of presence in Canada (the well dressed gentleman’s home turf), and the shared Midwestern experiences of myself and the photographer.
Eventually the conversation catches ear of another gentleman at the end of the table, hunkered over layers of video timeline editing, the digital tape spilling out of his display and onto the desktop. His Apple Watch also peeked from the edge of his rolled up sweater.
He began to explain the smartwatch video review he was working on while a still image of a Moto 360 with full bokeh lay right outside his field of vision like a freshly funded startup explainer video. I was waiting for the plunky piano, but sadly, witch house was playing in the vicinity of the cafe.
He mentioned his position as the video producer for The Verge, and it was that moment where I felt a bit of clarity. Here I am, someone who is a fine consumer of the internet’s, especially video reviews on The Verge, but I never once considered the folks behind the upload doing the work, sometimes not even listed and credited.
“Thats’s really awesome, I’m such a big fan of your work. I’ve been watching Verge videos for such a long time.”
“Nice! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying them. That means a lot.”
After the conversations between the four of us died down and split our separate ways into into the bustle of New York, I caught myself in a strong sense of reflection, mainly from a large amount of self-imposed solitude among strangers. I prefer to call this “catchin’ feelins”.
As the four of sat among each other, working silently, we all contributed some form of creative output as a professional artist in a sense: from code, photography, video, and everything inbetween. Especially in the age of producing for experiencing on the internet, you are unlikely to know who it is experiencing your creation as you would a physical prescence that visits a gallery during an opening while you are present, mainly because there is a barrier of effort to reach out to said creator. Sure there are comments and emails, but people become algorithms, data, numbers, stats, likes, when in fact they are breathing sacks of carbon with emotion, opinions and physical appreciation.
While I will never meet those three folks from that table in Stumptown Coffee Roasters, I’ll think of them whenever I get down on myself about my work. You may not get welcoming praise every day, every hour about every fucking thing you make, but there is someone out there that really loves your work. Maybe they just haven’t spoken up about it yet.
This Week’s Magazine Clippings
★ “The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna”: I was so lucky to hear Doreen St Felix give a talk on this essay in a warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn this weekend. It’s an incredible insight into genius of Rihanna and dichotomy between the relationship of money and black women, partically non-American black women.
★ “A chemistry teacher’s guide to the perfect cup of coffee”: I mean, I’m just saying.
★ “The Strange History of the East Village’s Most Famous Street”: My only knowledge of St. Marks Place was the season 2 finale of Broad City. After a frustrating time finding somewhere to drink in this neighborhood I stumbled upon St. Marks Place and found the best burger bar. While eating sliders, I hit up Google and found this great explainer about the history of this street.
★ “The Greatest Show on Earth: How DJ Khaled Became Hip-Hop’s Biggest Personality”: I always thought DJ Khaled did nothing but gather rappers together and talk on their tracks but boy was I wrong. I respect DJ Khaled’s hustle and general delight about his entire life.
★ “Recreating the Making the Band 2 Cheesecake Walk, 10 Years Later”: I stopped by Juniors while I was out here and yes, the cheesecake is great. I did not walk to Manhattan to get Diddy a slice however.
★ CSS Black Lives Matter shirts and hoodies are back until the end of the month! This run will benefit the Black Lives Matter BLCK store. Check out the shop to order yours today.
★ I’m back on the speaking and visiting-artist train for the rest of 2015. If you teach a class, host a residency program, need a speaker for your event/conference, or looking for a studio visit, contact me. I recently had good visits with Columbia Chicago and School of the Art Institute Chicago, focusing on self-employment and creating internet-based art with a human touch.
★ Well I’ll be a Q-train to Coney Island, this Wednesday will be episode 26 of Cher Vincent and myself’s podcast, Open Ended. We vaguely talk about humanity and tech from the black perspective, but mostly we trade jokes and talk about the ratchetness of our surrounding world. It’s honestly a great weekly release. This week will be our Halloween special, but you can check out our last episode ‘Let Me Tell You About That Blue Light Special’ with guest Rashid Zakat on our website, iTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep the lights on.
★ If you’re into owning some art, I’ve got a few framed prints of a piece I created recently, “we(act)," for sale. If you are interested in having some art of mine in your home or studio, reply to this email so we can chat!
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