Five steps to holiday bliss
The idea struck me on the way home from Observatory after a rather gloomy date: Can you say that being a "new media practitioner" today is analogous to being single? It would seem that both are hailed as sexy, new wave positions to find yourself in. You are the envy of your friends, or that's what a lot of marketing experts and Natasha Benningfield would have you believe. But all I notice is that everyone around me is getting married, spending quality time with their "life partners", or planning Christmas holidays with their love bunnies.
Along similarly paradoxical lines, in spite of all the hype around new media,
people come up to me all the time and say "but what is this new media stuff?
Name me one new media artist in Cape Town!" While all the time, the hard working
sculptors are getting their hands dirty doing "real" work, painters are still
angsting it away and so on and so on. No one has any trouble recognising those
people! Tradition in art, like in marriage, is anything but dead.
I don't know how far this analogy will go, or if, indeed, it just had a one-night-only private performance in my head. (I was so captivated by these thoughts that on that drive home, I completely missed my street, and had to turn around in Wynberg. Here I passed all the girls on the corners, and thought, "hell, tradition isn't all I am cracking it up to be!"). Perhaps, as one of my colleagues is fond of pointing out, I am suffering from NMIC: New Media Inferiority Complex.
Still, what does one do when single, and on top of that, a new media practitioner in one of the world's favourite holiday destinations? As an end-of-year gift to Artthrob readers, I decided to take on this project personally.
The first step is to become a Dr. Phil follower. As the man says, "in motivational terms, the power of a small positive short-term reward far exceeds that of a large negative long-term effect." (Admittedly, he said this to explain why people find it difficult not to eat five hamburgers a day when they know its bad for them.)
The small positive short-term reward in this instance is seeing the pitfalls
of married life. Indeed, www.drphil.com is full of stories about husbands who have lost their
inclination towards romance, wives who are bored and depressed and unwilling
to let their husbands touch them and people who generally have obsessive and
neurotic preoccupations. Hmm, I am feeling better already, thank you Dr. Phil.
Second step: buy all your Christmas gifts on www.amazon.com, and make sure half of them are for yourself. The beauty of doing it this way, is that you can get the special edition of that favourite CD or DVD that you cannot get hold of locally without having to negotiate with the dim-witted stooges working in music stores.
Moreover, if you are stuck in one location for the holidays (since there is no better place to be in summer than Cape Town) Amazon delivers gift-wrapped packages directly to the actual recipients. Also, you get to spend quality time with your computer and hear its appreciative buzz as you click and clatter away at the keyboard.
So, I decided that it is a book for the sister-in-law who really could do with one, another book for mom, and a radio-controlled mouse toy for dad and the cats at home. "Spot" the radio-controlled mouse in question, however, did not want to be shipped to South Africa. Neither did the Playstation 2 game I wanted to buy for my brother. In fact, any vaguely electronically related item simply refused to be added to my order. So much for the new media augmented global village.
As for step three, I remind you that it is the perfect time to go visit websites
you normally do not have time for, and also comic strips (I recommend www.dilbert.com),
which you can openly read now that you are not expected to be working. Remember:
people who have real things to do over the holidays do not sit on the Internet
and eat up your bandwidth! Do not go to the malls, and avoid the schools-out-for-summer
queues at the movies, visit www.atomfilms.com and www.ifilm.com for
short movies, animations and gags.
Step Four is in a more artistic and humanitarian vein: of course, 1 December
is World AIDS day, and simply by visiting a special online project you can
help out. www.wooloo.org is
hosting an art project entitled Thank You". The project takes place
from 1 - 11 December 2004 in Kayelitsha, Cape Town and the Artist Space gallery
in New York. Participating artists are Berni Searle, Minnette Vári, Mary
Flanagan, The Trinity Session, and Thembinkosi Goniwe.
The works will all include an interactive element which can be accessed in the
different spaces as well as online at www.wooloo.org/thankyou. Each interaction by a viewer donates
R1 towards setting up an HIV education centre in Kayelitsha, and perhaps less
admirably, donating one drink of wine to the viewers in the galley in New York.
The last stage in sidestepping new media induced holiday depression is to get a living, breathing companion. Yes, the light of my life at this stage comes in a little redhead package called Maximilian. Having gone through the Tamagotchi and Furby stages already, I have now graduated to real life cat-owner. He is the ultimate in interactive game-play and does not come with a cell phone. I think with Max (A.K.A. Spidercat) and these five steps, I could have a happy holiday season, and wish the same to all Artthrob readers!