I am about to embark on a three week internet fast. This unplugging has become a summer ritual for me. In 2010, I chronicled my first experience with detaching from the web.
Scenes from last summer's fast:
|Blocked Internet - Collage on Wood|
I was looking for the Minuteman Bike Trial, a rail-trail that I thought led roughly from Lexington, Mass. into Cambridge, Mass. I asked at the front desk where I was staying in Concord, Mass., and the older woman, though she had a computer in front of her, said she did not know where to find it. She suggested inquiring at one of the local tourist spots.
|Riding the Trails|
In town, I inquired at the venerable Concord Inn and was given a map of Minute Man National Historic Park, that noted a bikeable section of the Revolutionary War Battle Road. This was not the trail I was looking for. However, loaded with history, wooded dirt paths, tourists from across the globe and planked boardwalks with banked turns through swamps, the route was a bike ride for the ages.
Had I solely searched the web and avoided interactions with not always precise humans, I would have simply found my original destination (the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway - America's Revolutionary Rail Trail) and missed out on an unknown treat.
This weather report from The Boston Globe served me well. So I got a little wet enjoying pedaling up and down the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. Might planning using an hourly forecast inhibit touching all of life?
Another day, as I arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I found a man struggling to take a selfie with a large sculpture behind him. I asked if he wanted me to take his picture. When I showed him the image, smiling broadly, he exclaimed, "Wow!" I think that selfies may have become a culturally acceptable way to limit interactions with strangers.
However, you will have to take my word for this interaction, as I have no digital proof. Unplugged from the web, I would be shamed in David Eggers' The Circle, a creepy fictionalized (?) world where "Privacy is Theft".
Back home, I wanted to send some postcards, but did not know the proper postal rate. I asked my mail carrier, who called headquarters to find out. They later called back: 35 cents.
"I guess you don't send postcards," I said.
"Jeez, no," he replied. "I can't remember the last time I sent a postcard. I guess I don't go on vacation to interesting places." He laughed. "No one would want a postcard from where I live."
|Have You Ever Gone to a Movie that You Knew Nothing About?|
One day, I wanted to go to a movie. At my library, the movie schedule was buried deep inside the third newspaper I searched. "Self/less" was the only movie that fit into my time frame. I experienced wonder as the movie began. I knew nothing about the movie and had no idea what to expect.
Had I seen previews, a trailer or a review, I would likely not have chosen to see it, as I am not big on science fiction. However, I appreciated the overall message that out of human frailty and violence, forgiveness and reconciliation are possible.
Disclosure: During this internet fast, I went online to find the closest urgent care center. I also occasionally asked family members to look up something for me. And, one time in a hurry, I looked online for movie times.
|Paper, Pastels, Block Printing, Mod Podge, Driftwood|
Some of the ink unexpectedly smeared when I applied the Mod Podge with a brush. Also, I was not careful enough when attaching the paper to wood-that-could-have-been-smoother and ended up with distracting wrinkles in the paper
|Life's Over, Or Just Beginning?|
|Paper, Pastels, Block Printing, Mod Podge, Driftwood, Wite-Out|
|Solid as a Block|
Even the title was a work in progress.
|I Wish You Could Feel the Heft|
Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com Instagram: @professornordell