I continued to add to my self portrait. I’m using oil paint. A lot of the under layers are acrylic paint. I am thinking about my art making tools. My brushes, knives, palettes, jars, containers, paint tubes, solvents, rags etc. There is a lot of objects that facilitate the act of painting, and I feel I am orchestrating a large production moving around with my various tools and dancing with my painting.
Painting is an activity I have done since I was a kid. To paint means a lot of different things for me. In this case, I want to paint and focus on the activity in the context of this project - in the context of the ritual. I began the ritual by adding to a painting I had been working on in the past. Its a painting that has gone through many eras, layered up slowly over time. The original painting is long gone, covered by layers of newer paintings. I am working on a self portrait.
Today I walked from my house to DAAP for class (about 11 minutes), and I brought a plastic bag again because I have so many of them saved up from the past. I have transitioned to re-usable grocery bags, but now have a huge bag of plastic grocery bags that I do not know what to do with. I use a lot of them for trash can liners for my bathroom. It’s funny how this is now the second way I’m using these bags for trash. I forgot gloves today, but I figured it was ok, because the gloves are just more trash. I filled my bag before I was halfway to DAAP.
Today I walked from my house to the nearest gas station - the BP on Jefferson - to pick up some drinks. It was about a 15 minute walk. This time I wore some gloves and got a bigger trash bag. Again, the most common trash are paper / plastic food packaging. I found some other strange plastic pieces and a large white sign. I felt self conscious again picking up trash on the side of the road. I simultaneously do and don’t want people to see me. The reason I don’t want to be seen is for obvious reasons like embarrassment and other superficial human emotions. The reason I want to be seen is because the idea I have behind a potential concept for a project revolves around communal trash collection. The more people who pick up trash the better, and the more people who see someone else picking up trash, the more the idea spreads.
This morning I walked back to my car to drive to my studio before class. I walked the same path I walked last night, but went on the other side of the street - the other sidewalk. I still found so much trash. Even more than last night. The walk was only a few minutes, and my bag was full before I got to my car. It was defeating to think about how much trash is around all the time. I found a lot of paper and plastic, styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, a full plastic water bottle, an empty glass liquor bottle, and a t shirt. At one point my bag flew open again and some trash spilled out.
Afterward, my hands felt very dirty. Event though they weren’t visually dirty, I felt the need to instantly wash them.
I felt a little self-conscious about picking up trash last time. It’s not that I was embarrassed necessarily, but I felt a little pretentious doing it. Maybe I was overthinking it. Nevertheless, this time I picked up trash at night so fewer people would see me. I had parked a few streets over, and needed to get something from my car, so I picked up all the trash I saw on my way to and from my car. This time the most common item I found was paper and plastic scraps - several aluminum cans too.
It was a windy night, and at one point, my plastic bag flew open and some trash spilled out. The plastic bag is the clumsiest part of this process. It’s difficult to hold it open while placing in trash with the picker-upper.
My next ritual will be to pick up all the trash I see on my walk to my destination (ie: class, work, grocery store, etc). Today I walked from my house to a local mexican place to meet my friend for lunch. To pick up trash, I bought a trash picker-upper from walmart, and grabbed a plastic grocery bag (something that I have too many of) from my cupboard. According to Google Maps, this walk is 0.3 miles - approximately a 6 minute walk. I ended up filling up one plastic grocery bag with trash. In fact, there was so much trash I happened upon, I had to eventually stop because my bag was about full. There were also so many little pieces of plastic, paper, cigarettes, etc, I started to focus on bigger items only. To actually pick up all the trash I saw on my walk would have taken much, much longer. The most common items I found were McDonalds trash and plastic bottles.
Reading before bed has helped me fall asleep. I am able to shut off from all of the thoughts and work of the day, and get lost in the story the writer is telling. I also feel a sense of empowerment by being able to resist using my phone before bed. Sometimes I feel truly addicted to using my phone, and to put it away and end my day with something else it refreshing.
After reading last night, I thought a lot about my nightstand, and the role it plays in the activity of reading. I also thought about the role it plays in my nightly routine of going to bed, and even my day as a whole. The nightstand - this surface right next to my bed - is what holds the objects that I interact with first thing in the morning every day and the last objects I interact with every night. Arguably, the nightstand holds my most important items - my phone, glasses, alarm clock (the time), and my lamp, the last light of the day I use. How can I incorporate my nightstand into my reading ritual? Do I already perform a ritual each night in the way I store my items of my nightstand?
I gave myself more time to read by getting ready for bed earlier, and getting into my bed earlier. Knowing that I wanted to read more pages last night, it made me plan out my night more so than usual. I was more mindful of the time I was spending during the day, afternoon, and evening, and felt I was practicing a healthy lifestyle by getting ready for bed early.
I read a few chapters and went to bed. I found the transition from reading to sleeping was very quick and easy - almost seamless. This contrasts the feeling of when I go from looking at my phone screen to trying to fall asleep. I have trouble shutting of my brain after consuming a diverse range of content that is all trying to grab my attention. The light of the screen alone can be overwhelming.
The second night of reading lasted shorter than the first. I fell asleep so quickly, I don’t think I retained any of the information I read. This is a problem I have sometimes when I read (at any time of the day). I will read a page of text and I’ll be looking at the text while I’m thinking of something else. I see the words, but I don’t process them. I find myself re-reading a paragraph two or three times before I finally focus on the text. Sometimes I find it hard to truly focus my mind on one task and be present with one thing. Last night I was especially tired, and was not ready to read for an extended period of time. I think I should allow more time before going to sleep, to allow myself to fall asleep more gradually.
Over the next three weeks, I will engage in a series of three loosely defined “rituals.” The goal is to use a ritual as a point of departure to find an area to design in. Ritual in this case is an action or activity that I will repeat daily for a week. From the mundane (brushing teeth, running, making a cup of tea) to the unusual (using your non-dominant hand, climbing a tree, walking blindfolded). By exploring and digesting these activities repeatedly, opportunity areas for design may become apparent.
My first of three rituals is to read before bed, as I am falling asleep. The first night I read (per John Dixon’s recommendation) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Reading has been a hobby that I have gradually gotten more into over the past couple of years. I enjoy the tactility of reading a book, and I am discovering an entire world and culture behind the act of reading. Reading before bed specifically is a certain type of reading. The mood, time, and context of the day all play into how I am reading while laying in bed. It’s a way to shut off and put not only myself to bed, but all of the things that took place throughout the day.
This first night, I found myself falling asleep really quickly. I was nodding off while holding the book. I maybe made it through seven pages. More times than not, looking at my phone is the last thing I do before putting my head down to sleep. Looking at a book rather than a screen feels much more natural.