Imagined Voices: “Why are you writing about a cartoonist? I thought your blog was about fine art.”
Imagined Response: “My blog is about damn fine art. And that’s what Allie Brosh made, with her piece on depression.”
Allie Brosh is a comic blogger at Hyperbole and a Half. Her post called Depression Part Two gathered 5000 comments, the maximum number of comments allowed. Mine is among them, I had to thank her when I discovered her work. Allie is 27 years old and it’s exciting to think what may come. With her blog getting millions of unique visitors a month, it’s no wonder her first book will be released October 29, 2013, published by Touchstone. I pre-ordered my copy.
Allie Brosh’s art has me thinking about the Internet and art and impact.
Her work sends out the big ripple, lots of people “get it”. Insightful and hilarious, she makes good storytelling look easy. Her drawings appear to be crude. “I know,” she concedes. “I do that on purpose because shitty drawings are funny. I do work very hard on making my drawings exactly the way they are. Sometimes I revise one drawing over ten different times. It’s a very precise crudeness.”
Humor is a powerful connector, and her humor is my favorite kind: plainly intelligent, keenly observant and surprisingly honest. Brosh says, “Humor is simply your brain being surprised by an unexpected variation in a pattern that it recognizes. If your brain doesn’t recognize the pattern or the pattern is already too familiar to your brain, you won’t find something humorous.”
The truth surprises my brain.
I think about The Digital Lie – how paintings, drawings, and other forms of visual art translate beautifully to the digital image. But nothing compares to the perceptual experience of eyes-on-the-original-object. Digital is a lovely lie, so close to the truth that it’s accepted as the truth. Yet something inexplicable is lost in translation, something aligned with a sense beyond our defined five. (See Stendahl syndrome. Physical reaction to great artwork has happened to me and to many others, and it’s not a “psychosomatic disorder”. We just don’t have a good word for it in English.)
My point is that the full impact of art happens when we experience the original, not a photographic or digital replica. Allie Brosh draws using Paintbrush (similar to MS Paint) so there is no translation in medium. Digital to digital. Maybe this adds to the impact.
Or maybe she’s just using the Internet in exactly the right way, right now.
Amanda Palmer said in her well-known TED-talk: “For most of human history, musicians/ artists have been part of the community; connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance. But the Internet, and the content we’re freely able to share on it, is taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close, and about those people being enough.”
The Internet is the looming challenge, opportunity, and portal for artists, unique to us at this time in history. What to give away? What to copyright? What to say? How to monetize? How to connect? How to stand out? How to bring people to see your work in person? How to be truthful and careful at the same time?
Imagined Voices: “So what are the answers?”
Imagined Response: “I’m just pondering. I’m watching the questions and the answers unfold simultaneously, right now.”
Enjoy the work of Allie Brosh!