September 10, 2010

Lessons of a 3 Week Internet Fast

Look | Sensory Inspiration

Throughout the ages individuals have fasted from food as a spiritual practice of purifying body and mind.

Julia Cameron in her 1992 book, The Artist's Way (A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity), suggests a week of reading deprivation to "jump start" your creative process.

Well, aside from one day when I was teaching, I spent the last 3 weeks of August offline.  I loved it.  I read more books.  I wrote postcards.  I used the dictionary and phone book. Stress about number of hits, likes, tweets, etc. evaporated.  I only took vacation photos.  All in all, a welcome break from my normal routine.  I did not want to go back online.

 Townhouse Neighborhood
As my internet fast neared conclusion,  I became concerned about what I would photograph once I got back into the swing of things.  The world around me seemed bland.  I was not living up to this statement from my About page: "The ultimate satisfaction from a lifetime of creating art and finding inspiration is the awareness that everything around me is art and has inherent value."

I was not seeing art everywhere.  WHAT AM I GOING TO PHOTOGRAPH? I dreamed one night that I was camera-less in a chaotic city, thinking to myself:  "I need my camera to make sense of this place."

Last Saturday in Brattleboro, Vermont I dropped off a print of Townhouse Neighborhood as a donation to the Insight Photography Project's annual print auction fundraiser.  Afterword, I wandered into the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.  Photographs!  Sculpture!  Video!  Installations!  Constructions!

I left the museum, my creative well of inspiration filled, seeing photographs everywhere.  I returned the next morning with a camera:

Retaining Wall Art
Self-Portrait at the Museum Door

Ode to Kertesz
Chain Link Fence
This process of shifting from feeling creatively empty to visually full, from seeing my world as uninteresting to delighting in life, is the essence of Create Look Enjoy.

And, after a rough transition, I am back online, with a more relaxed perspective.

Tech Tips: Nikon D700,  ISO range 100-400.  Townhouse Neighborhood and Ode to Kertesz are in-camera multiple exposures.  With Chain Link Fence I shot at f22 at a 1/10 of a second while moving my camera.  © 2010 John Nordell


jarimuse said...

Hey chuck,
Internet fast is a great idea. I did it myself too. Only email, nothing more. I did it for almost a week. Being a twenty something, offline is almost impossible because my friends use twitter and facebook to make sense of life. It felt very good after 2nd day of fasting. I felt totally un-jacked from the system. Your post made me think alot, thanks!

John Nordell said...


Thanks for the insight into your generation.

Breaks lead to insights.

- John

Olivia Alexander said...

This sounds like what I need right now except my work requires me to use the net so may be hard to get away from it!
The way my brain is feeling overloaded though I reckon it's worth a try!
Being an visual artist, all this online stuff just seems to drain my creative energy!
When did marketing the art become more important that producing it?(
that's my question to myself)
PS Love the photo/artworks, John, they are awesome! I love abstract.

John Nordell said...

Olivia - Thank you for appreciating my work. Marketing is the price I pay to get my work seen. I try to make it fun. Best - John

Mary Ellen said...

Beautiful post as always! Your thoughts are inspiring.
Thank you.

John Nordell said...

Thanks MaryEllen. See you soon!