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The perfect tools. A pointless quest?

August 18, 2017

 

Before art came into my life, in parallel with smartphones and apps, there were very few tools I needed. Paper, pens, perhaps a couple of highlighters, books, photocopies, knowledgeable friends and a landline phone. Later, a desktop computer and a word editing program.This is how I studied, got my degrees and wrote my books. The idea that a different pen or notebook could make any difference to the quality of my work never crossed  my mind. With art entering my life, I started having an array of choices - what paper? What format? Pencils, markers, pens, paint? And in what combination? Slowly the same amount of choice and indecision took over other aspects of my life and work. An app for ideas, what app? How do I take notes that retain the magic of the original inspiration? In this relentless search for the perfect tool, the perfect combination, the miracle potion, I ended up with a shelf full of art supplies and more than ten 'productivity' apps - Evernote, OneNote, Bear, Trello, Penzu, Notebook, Matcha. To name just a few. I won't tell you how many cameras and other gadgets I have, of all shapes and sizes. The result is a permanent state of indecision. None of these apps really work for me. It seems like the algorithms that are supposed to emulate my way of thinking, are actually dictating it, and that I am reluctant or incapable of following their dictates. It's funny, or sad, or worrying, how freedom of choice can become quite oppressive, making us feel constantly responsible for taking the wrong decisions. In order to get out of the tools obsession and back to content, to what story we actually want to tell, we have to become indifferent, as we used to be indifferent to the type of pen or size of notebooks we used in college. It's quite hard, though, the algorithm is so full of promises, the right combination of art supplies could catapult us into the orbit of success, recognition, validation. I was thinking about all of this while watching swans in the Serpentine and waiting for a friend to go and visit the Grayson Perry exhibition. It was amazingly refreshing to see his sketchbooks, in whatever format, whatever art supply, whatever subject, whatever meaning. Just content, exuberant, colourful, deep, shallow, militant, cartoony, real, and I mean real, content. 

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