Monday, March 19, 2012

museum of everyday reality or how she got pissy about pinterest

i have what is becoming a love-hate relationship with pinterest. i love that i can use it to find things again, rather than bookmarking 10,000 pages in my browser. i hate that everyone is up in arms over the terms. i love it visually - it just pleases my eye to open the page. i hate when random strangers categorize my boards. i love how it helps me see trends in my own taste and thinking and just generally gives me a big picture, holistic overview of what i want (e.g. with regard to the new kitchen). i hate all of the pretentiousness in the descriptions people write for their pins. here are just a couple from last evening:

~ people referring to salt as "artisan sea salt". what, have they painted little pictures on the salt flakes? (if so, i want to pin that!)

~ a reference to "butter and other primal fats" as ideal to serve on your fiddleheads. now i am as interested in foraging and found food as anyone and intend to learn more and eat a whole lot more of it this year, but really, do we have to be so PRETENTIOUS about it?

and this whole curation movement - pinners as curators. that just strikes me as so, to use the word again...pretentious.  i was rather disgusted by all of this last evening and so i picked up dubravka ugresic's museum of unconditional surrender to take my mind off of it. sometimes, you just pick up exactly the right thing to read at the moment you need to read it.

i opened to a page where dubravka wrote about ilya kabakov, a russian artist who illustrated children's books for status as a "legitimate artist" during the soviet years, but who lives today in new york and is known as "an archaeologist of the everyday," in the tradition of kurt schwitters, robert rauschenberg and others.  he gathers the detritus and everyday bits and pieces of trash, classifies them and makes them into art in order to make sense of reality. dubravka quotes the novel of a forgotten russian avant-garde writer, konstantin vaginov, "classification is one of the most creative activities. essentially, classification shapes the world. without classification there would be no memory. without classification it would be impossible to imagine reality." she characterizes kabakov as a descendent of this russian avant-garde tradition and describes his work, saying "the material of bureaucratized everyday life transposed on to magnified boards obliges the observer/reader to read into it his own meaning." and it hit me that it's what we're doing with pinterest.

this obsessive collecting and classification is quite possibly our attempt to find some kind of pattern, sense and meaning in a world that seems increasingly to have gone mad. of course, that mad world cannot help but impose itself on the classifications all the time in the form of pretentions designed to set us apart from the mundane everyday, and so we work against that which we ourselves construct. we want to find our own outlook of the world, our own conception of beauty, our own visual language with which to express our everyday. beautifully photographed. categorized. labeled. curated. one giant inspiration board in which we ultimately reveal the underlying kitsch of everyday reality. endlessly repinned and replicated.


The Gardener In A Green Dress said...

Oh yes. A much needed commentary. And really...why DO we think it will be so satisfying to categorize? It never is. And the brain amperage used to visually classify could have easily been used to, as you say, find the pattern in the madness mentally. I suspect we're beginning to distrust our own minds and prefer the physical actions of clicking devices or drinking in data from screens. There is so little true solitude these days.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that I'm now a curator of my Pinterest page. How very.

I pin for the fun of finding images and for the delight of seeing what I've found put together all in one place. No need to categorize what I find. No need to have
a pretentious title. For me, Pinterest is just a place to goof-off-- as I suspect it is for many other people.

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

A most interesting post, for quite a few reasons. First, besides being an artist, my background is in library work....specifically, cataloging and classification! I find the notion of it all fascinating and just think of is, without it, life would be chaos. Just imagine trying to find a book in a library without the classification of knowledge interpreted in the system a library uses to shelve the books. What was really interesting too was how call numbers adjusted, changed and grew in number over the years as knowledge and our understanding of the world shifting. Classification is never static! Now, about pinterest....yes, it is a way of classification and cataloging. I find that I use it as kind of a private place to pin those things I see which really strike it's private and public at the same time. It is sort of like inviting people into your home to see how you live, what you put on your walls, what books are on your shelves, all reveals a great deal about you. I'm still a bit clueless about the recent hullaballo about pinterest, but what is really irking me is that it's become yet ANOTHER social marketing tool....I refuse to engage in it that way....isn't there enough promotion of ourselves going on in all these other places. Can't I just carefully follow the people whose eyes I trust and can't I just pin the items that interest me.....I'm gathering beauty around me and that's quite enough for me. Thanks for this wonderfully thought provoking post! Patti

Jody Pearl said...

All I can think of to say Julie is "there's not enough hours in the day" and "I hope the sun comes out soon" - I'm a pretty simple girl, whose brain's not big enough to cope with all there is to do out there and I'm so glad yours is so I can get a balanced perspective on what I'm missing out on.

I've given Pinterest a go as I find the images stimulating but I can't find the right buttons to make it work for me - so I don't.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I loved Pinterest until last night when I heard the TV show "Entertainment Tonight" announce that they'd "pinned" all the cast photos from "Hunger Games" on Pinterest.



I have a category for THAT!

Ha. xo jj

julochka said...

i do think i'm taking it all too seriously. but it helped writing this. :-) thanks guys for helping me continue to think it through!

Sammi said...

I think one of my problems with pinterest has always been that I think its too formal and pretentious for my liking. I'd prefer to play with tumblr

Jim Doran said...

As the first of the six guys on the planet who actually use Pinterest, I'd like to add that it's a fine service for posting pictures of raccoons and shoes.

"Curating" has been really big on tumblr for a while too. The thing you must remember is this: everyone is very important in the Internetz.

julochka said...

jim - i might add that i often repin your raccoons and shoes. and things involving skulls.

and this confirms that i must, before i die, drink wine with you. and kit.