Friday, April 25, 2008

My Interview with Waldo

I did a couple of all-nighters on making the above video "The Waldo Interview". I have been collaborating closely on the "Where on Earth is Waldo" project with Melanie Coles, and we wanted to get this video available as soon as possible to feed the global multi-media interest. Please follow the above link to her blog to learn about her project in her own words. In keeping with the theme of this blog, this reflects on my Waldo experience using the COABC (Came of Age Before Computers) point of view.

The first learning point for myself is that -- at the age of fifty-seven -- if I am going to be choosing to work for fifty hours solid, I need an ergonomic chair!

Also, what does it mean for me personally that, having chosen to commit to doing my art using a computer, I found that working on the Waldo project was the most fun I've had at Art School? I think that a big part of the reason that the Waldo project went viral on the Internet is that the aerial photo is of a real object -- it is not a photoshopped image on a map. I think there is a hunger for the "embodied", as I call it. The 54-foot painting of Waldo up on the roof is real, as are the fifteen art students who worked together to put him up there. As this blog evolves, I will be focusing more on Internet-related projects that re-connect people back into participating in the face-to-face world.

Another personal COABC reflection is that now there are some Internet places where I not only have stopped grinding my teeth, but actually enjoy myself. YouTube is one of these sites. From the user point of view, it is simple. Click a link recieved in an email or the "play" arrow in a website, and away the video goes. No matter how old and clunky your computer, and how basic your skills on the web, there are no compatibility issues, nor extra software you need. No wonder YouTube has leaped over the digital divide!

Finally, at the time I am writing this, two of my YouTube videos -- "The Waldo Interview" and "Shutdown Day, One Year Later" (see my March 24 article) -- have had over 2000 "hits". A third, "The Making of Waldo" (April 10) , has had over 1500 people fire it up. A "hit" means that somebody out there found an art piece that I made, and then took the time to watch it. As an artist, I am just as thrilled at a report of a hit as I would be looking at the guest book of people who had dropped into a gallery, or the tally of how many sat in a theatre to watch it. But I know that it is very unlikely that I would ever get that kind of attention, here on the ground, as a new grad -- or ever! A "hit" is the currency of the internet. An ephemeral connection. But I do feel like I'm getting paid. In a future posting I will look at the implications.

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