is it the artist or is it the brush?


Let me premise by saying that sometimes I start writing things and then I am interrupted and I lose my train of thought. I think that's what happened with this. I started writing this two months ago, scribbles in my tiny notebook. Then life got a little bit complicated and I didn't feel like writing anymore. At least not that piece. I tried to pick up where I left off a week or so ago, but I can't get it to make sense. But I'm posting it anyhow, because this blog is imperfect, just like this post. So a few things have been lost in translation. I can deal with it.

lost in translation

We have an obsession with accessories, accessories being those additional items we add to our lives, be it some sort of fashionable element, objet d'art or technological gadget. I think we sometimes fall into the habit of thinking that that these accessories are somethow more significant than they are, that a certain pair of shoes are essential to make an outfit work, that a new camera will improve our photos simply because it is technically better, or that some new software or web application will transform discourse. But these accessories, these tools, they are meaningless without the people to wear them or use them.

Perhaps it is just our fascination with McLuhan's the medium is the message, which is, no doubt, a profound and pivotal concept, but one that people tend to misconstrue to over emphasize the importance of the accessory.

The collective wisdom of Wikipedia has this say about McLuhan's famous concept.
The form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. A medium affects the society in which it plays a role only only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.
This is not to say that the medium doesn't play a role in how the message is perceived - quite clearly it does - but one must also take into consideration who is delivering the message, looking at the individual behind the words, behind the action.

Perhaps I muse about this because I fancy myself a bit of an artist and there are times when I want credit for something I've created - not what my tools have created with me as a passive vessel. I take an active role in the creation. I am a full participant. The tool does not choose me, I choose it.