Tag Archives: Internet

On NFTs (now)

Apparently NFTs are still a thing and there is still much about them that I don’t know about. I’ve written negatively about them before, but a friend of mine who works in fintech has been educating me a lot about them. Now, of course I’m still very wary with investing in anything, and I’m really in no position to buy any bored primates, but I’m now more open-minded about them. A few things about them however.

1. They could be one of the only ways to truly sell and monetize digital art. Digital art is still art, and it is a bit unfair that they haven’t been able to be part of the art market until NFTs came around. This is similar to my complaint about anatomical/scientific illustrations. Why are they not seen nor exhibited as high art? There should be room for them in galleries, the same way there is room for most kinds of art. The only difference with anatomical/scientific illustrations and digital art is that the former can be monetized while the latter hasn’t been able to until NFTs came around.

2. The NFT market, much like the cryptocurrency market will always be in a state of ups and downs. I prematurely predicted the demise of the NFT market months ago and yet they are still here. Many NFTs have lowered in value since then, but many are still worth the initial investment. And me, I’m sitting here eating crow.

3. Many if not most NFTs are bad art. The percentage of bad art among NFTs compared to just plain digital art is considerably higher; I’d say 98% of NFTs are bad art. And it naturally will be that way for two reasons. One is that most of the NFT buyers are in it for the investment. They are not in it for the art. The second reason is that much like the Bored Ape Yacht Club, lots of NFTs are a set of similar images with a randomized set of traits that are digitally generated. Make 10,000 similar drawings, randomize their features, have people bid on them or set prices on them based on the rarity of the features an image has.

4. I don’t think many artists are making digital art and turning them into NFTs on a 1:1 ratio. I think that’s a rarity. The story of NFTs helping unknown artists in developing countries finally make a living off their art is a fairy tale that is only true for the smallest percentage of the market.

5. Most NFTs will not increase in value. There’s simply too many of them, and the initial prices of NFTs that made the news last year were so high that there’s nowhere else to go but down. Just check out what happened to the NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet. It was sold for $48 million, and on the most recent auction, it barely got $300 in bids.

6. Celebrities who promote NFTs or who show off their purchases are in it for themselves. They are actively trying to increase the value of their NFTs before selling them. Did anyone really believe Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton when they mused about the uniqueness and artistry of their bored apes on the ‘Tonight Show?’

7. As incredulous as I am about the metaverse, NFTs will be an integral part of it. Basically, anything that is traded over the Internet for monetary value that has a limited amount functions as an NFT. The only difference is the blockchain element. If the metaverse does become all-encompassing as Mark Zuckerberg wants it to be, then we have no choice but to be involved in things like NFTs.

8. I am still skeptical of the element of the artist earning a percentage each time their artwork changes hands. This was one of the initial selling points of NFTs and I didn’t really see a point in it. Why would they get a royalty for items that they already sold? If I sold a painting, I don’t care if it increases in value when it gets resold years later. Good for the buyer. Good for me too because it means I’m talented enough to command such prices. But getting a percentage of the sale? Why? And when does that stop? Until I’m dead?

9. I am still dismayed at the cost of minting NFTs, both monetarily and environmentally. Apparently, the technology is getting better and the process will become greener, but who knows when that would be reality and whether that would also affect the price of minting NFTs.

10. Will I be making NFTs in the future? Who knows? I dismissed them prematurely last year, and now I’m no longer sure. I will need to talk to more people about them. I still need a lot of education.

11. I believe there are two camps when it comes to looking at NFTs. One camp are old school artists and the other are artists willing to try out new things online. During the beginning of the pandemic, I was trying to sell an idea to a friend of mine who owns an art gallery. It was a virtual art gallery that people could navigate in 3D online. She dismissed the idea as too fanciful and would require too much effort on her part. I tried to volunteer my services but she shut me down. Two years in, many galleries and artists are doing shows online one way or another, including virtual 3D galleries. Boy, did I feel vindicated.

I don’t want to be in the old school camp with my friend. I’d like to be more open-minded.

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Billionaires Buying Things

Around two years ago, I got banned from Twitter. It was over a response to Laura Ingraham, a vile racist Nazi on Twitter. So yeah, I don’t mind being permanently banned on Twitter fighting the Nazis. I used to be a heavy Twitter user. And since I stopped using Twitter, I’m less stressed about the news, etc. I no longer have this useless need for one-upping strangers on the Internet. With Twitter out of my life, I focused more attention on Reddit, which I find more populated with people who are constructive and are actually interested in conversation, instead of Twitter where people seem to be more concerned about burning other people.

Now Elon Musk has bought Twitter. I never liked the man. I find him obnoxious and for lack of a better word, “corny.” He’s trying too hard to be Tony Stark, an obnoxious fictional character that only works via the nebulous deus ex machina of his genius and technology in general. “What seems like magic is actually nanobots. Plot hole filled!” Anyway, for a man who is the richest in the planet, Musk tries too hard to insert himself into our lives. A group of boys are trapped in a cave in Thailand, he sends a useless submarine. He asks the UN for a plan to solve world hunger. They give him said plan, but he doesn’t act on it and pretends he never offered to finance their plans in the first place. He gets into a dick-measuring contest with other obnoxious billionaires in their race for space (when the planet is literally dying). But my favorite is him evangelizing his idea of the Hyperloop in order to solve traffic problems. Years later and many companies involved in the idea, it has eventually materialized into nothing but tunnels, absolutely normal non-special tunnels.

My biggest problem with him is how he panders to the worst people on the Internet. The Joe Rogans, alpha males, conspiracy theorists, crypto bros, etc. His idea of free speech is for everyone to be able to say anything they want, no matter how vile or how dangerous it could be, except if it affects him. Just a couple of days into acquiring Twitter, he’s already unleashed one of the two female executives on Twitter to his horde of trolls. Maybe it’s creative termination or maybe it’s just his nature to be vile. But as one ex-Twitter CEO replied, “Bullying is not leadership.” He is a good salesman and a good hype man. Tesla ran for years without making any profit based on his promises, but it’s also been revealed that the company fosters a very misogynistic, racist, and hostile work environment.

When Peter Thiel, another billionaire, managed to get rid of Gawker, a media company that displeased him using a lawsuit and Hulk Hogan’s sex tape, it didn’t feel right to me. I felt it was the beginning of billionaires using their wealth willy-nilly to acquire or destroy companies and significantly affect people’s lives. Rupert Murdoch has been manipulating the public with his media empire for years, but when Peter Thiel got rid of Gawker, it showed that monumental changes can happen significantly faster via the tyranny of capitalism. And now that Elon Musk bought Twitter, he can use it to attack his enemies, gain more cultish followers, and boost his stock with his tweets, something that he’s done before in the past.

It’s the wild west now. What if Jeff Bezos just suddenly bought NBC and made it shill for Amazon non-stop? He already bought the Washington Post. And while the paper hasn’t really changed much since its acquisition, who knows how many Amazon stories they decided not to run since being bought by Bezos?

What bothers me also is that for the amount that Musk paid for Twitter, he could’ve used that money to help finance world hunger programs that he was previously talking about with the UN. He could’ve used that money to make college education free in the US. There are so much good that could be done by these billionaires’ money. Instead, Musk is using it to flex during his mid-life crisis.

As much as I don’t mind Warren Buffet and find him charming, there really isn’t anything good about being a billionaire. It is basically a person accumulating too much wealth to the detriment of everyone else. Sure, they might not be doing it maliciously, but by the amount of taxes they are not taxed alone, they are by definition taking more than they deserve and contributing less to society than the average person. When an average person pays their taxes, they literally gave away a bigger proportion of their wealth and effort more than any of the billionaires. Maybe they are not creating jobs, but they’re certainly working as the tiny cogs that make every day life work.

Billionaires should be illegal. They shouldn’t be allowed to exist. What is their point other than abusing their wealth?

For the past ten years, Twitter, despite its valuation, has struggled to make a profit. I’m not too optimistic about its future with Musk at the helm. Tesla has also struggled to make a profit for years. And I believe to this day, the company has not made a profit from selling cars. Instead, it’s made a profit by selling its regulatory credits to other companies. So yeah, I can’t wait for Twitter to become the next Myspace. Or be like Facebook, currently pushing a virtual reality world that most people won’t be embracing.

BTW, by Tesla selling regulatory credits and running on electricity that most probably was generated by fossil fuels, doesn’t that make everything a wash? Doesn’t that make going electric ultimately more wasteful than sticking with internal combustion vehicles, especially with electric vehicles needing more rare metals and requiring its batteries, which cannot be recycled, to be replaced every now and then? Internal combustion vehicles have a longer lifespan and require less rare metals. They won’t be subject to rapid technological cycles and be frequently outdated compared to electronic products and thus won’t generate as much physical waste. I believe that the future is electric vehicles, but as they are right now, they are doing worse for the environment than internal combustion vehicles. The cars and their batteries are not as efficient as they could be, and current internal combustion vehicles are running on the most efficient engines at the moment. The internal combustion car you are driving right now isn’t the same gas guzzler from the 60s. It is far cleaner and more reliable. And at the end of the day, you can drive it longer than your rich neighbor’s Tesla or Chevy Bolt.

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Getting Myself Out There

I’ve been looking at other ways to show off my work through an online networking service, and so far, there hasn’t been anything that’s excited me just yet.

I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but I’ve had a bias against DeviantArt. For the longest time, I’ve always thought of it to be the place mostly for sexy anime drawings. I’m sure there are lots of professionals in the site who do great work, but can’t help but feel that bias. To my surprise, when I looked at DeviantArt now, things seem to have calmed down. They’ve properly categorized the artists and it seems like they’re trying to cater to more serious artists. Maybe I’ll look more into it if I have some time, but building up a following on DeviantArt seems like starting a Facebook account in 2022. Perhaps that ship has already sailed a long time ago.

I tried out Tumblr, made an account, and found that the community is mostly dead. I think most people left Tumblr a few years ago after they strictly prohibited adult content.

I can’t with Pinterest. I actually find Pinterest annoying and how their aggressive SEO keeps pushing Pinterest in my search results when it’s the last thing I want. I also find Pinterest not very intuitive, so I just can’t.

I’ve been using Instagram for a few years now and have developed a reasonable number of followers, and it has been alright with me. The algorithm seems to have changed and I no longer get as many new followers as I used to, but the fact that it pushes people to keep on posting content actually encourages me to make art more often. It’s dystopic because it is literally making content for a corporation that doesn’t reward me for my efforts in any way, but I find that my Instagram is a good way to catalogue my art, get some feedback from people, and even make new friends.

I looked at Dribbble. While they seem to be very serious about catering to artists, the fact that there’s a paywall also tells me that it would be closed off to the public when it’s the last thing I want. People can still access the site without paying, but because creators need to be paying customers, it also means that many people wouldn’t even bother engaging in it. It seems to be more like a Linkdin for artists, not so much a networking platform to meet other artists.

Similar to Dribbble, Behance seems to be like a Linkdin for artists. It’s free and I made a Behance account and I find that the format is for artists who don’t already have an online portfolio or their own Web site. The way to get a good number of clicks and followers seem to mirror Instagram as well: interact with people, follow others, be active, etc. The set up however is very static. Artists get to make “projects” with a number of images. It doesn’t work like Instagram and you don’t have to update regularly, so it’s very counter-intuitive to interacting with the site regularly and gaining followers to be noticed.

I used to be on Medium, but they changed the tools on the site and it stopped playing well with my Korean machine. I gave up trying to fix the issue thinking I wasn’t getting much good feedback from Medium in the first place. I think the platform is designed for long think pieces, much like Substack, and despite me occasionally having long spiels once in a while, sometimes, I have nothing much to write about, much like right now.

I guess I’ll stick around with Instagram and my own website for now. That is, until Meta completely messes up Instagram the way it did with Facebook.

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On OnlyFans

So what was that whole thing with Onlyfans about? Well, just a quick recap of the events. Onlyfans, a platform that is made popular by creators selling homemade pornography, has grown even bigger due to the pandemic and many adult-performers opting out of mainstream pornographic productions. Looking for bigger investors, they announced that they will no longer be hosting sexually-explicit content, effectively alienating the creators that made them big to begin with. After a huge backlash from their creators and users, the company decided to go back on their announcement and continue to allow sexually-explicit content “for the moment.”

The initial move has been compared to Tumblr banning sexually-explicit content. For those unfamiliar with the events, Tumblr used to be huge, rivaling Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Then it decided to ban sexually-explicit content and its user base just plummeted. Now barely anyone uses Tumblr. Now, the sexually-explicit content Tumblr had wasn’t just raunchy pornography, it also included blogs on the LGBTQ community which were underrepresented online. But due to being forced by Apple, which has a notoriously anti—pornography stance, Tumblr had to follow suit in order to be available on Apple’s IOS platform and thus lost most of its value. Not many people remember it, but the whole thing reminds me more of Playboy magazine when it decided not to feature nude pictorials anymore. It was a move that spectacularly failed and had to be reversed later on when the publisher realized that GQ already exists.

I read commentary that Onlyfans needed to weed out sexually-explicit content in order to please payment processors like Mastercard who are quite conservative. Some even blamed Christian lobbyists as the ones pushing for the move. I also read that the problem that investors and payment processors are trying to avoid is the risk of being involved in child pornography. Onlyfans, being a platform for homemade pornography, it is possible for content with minors in it to be hosted in the platform. That, and perhaps other legal albeit unusual proclivities that investors might not be comfortable with. Now, instead of Onlyfans investing more money in policing their content, prematurely decided to scuttle the most profitable portion of their users. Laziness plus greed.

With that in mind, it also reminds me of the pump and dump scheme prevalent among cryptocurrencies these days. Influential personalities will publicize a new cryptocurrency, not mention that they are invested heavily on it, or perhaps even the creators of the cryptocurrency, and once people buy a huge amount of the cryptocurrency, they sell all of their shares and watch the value plummet on all of the people who trusted them. I’m thinking the heads at Onlyfans were trying to secure huge investments in order to expand, increase the value of the company, leave the company with their golden parachutes, and watch a pornless Onlyfans shrink to oblivion. The only problem was the backlash was so swift and so severe that their investors and payment processors got wind of the inevitable downfall that the plan had to be postponed.

And I say postponed because Onlyfans already showed their cards. Their creators better start looking for a plan B should Onlyfans finally decide to ditch them for good.

Regarding to the initial reactions, however. There were two interesting camps. The one trending on Twitter were the ones celebrating the downfall of Onlyfans and meme-ing that the girls on Onlyfans now have to find real jobs. Well, first off, sex-work is actual work. If anything, I think the men celebrating the plight of sexworkers are the same men who secretly enjoy pornography but don’t really pay for them. They hate women and feel slighted by not having the option of being able to take of their clothes and have swarms of women willing to pay for their time online.

The other interesting camp are from adult actresses who believe Onlyfans is offering a false sense of security among its creators. They are also giving naive young girls an “easy way out” by making easy money online. This is a more interesting take which I’m more keen on hearing. Apparently, Onlyfans is not very keen on its security and creators often have to deal with being hacked, stalked, and terrorized online. Not to mention that nudes online can easily be leaked and once your nudes are online, it’s there forever, often for free. Creators are also competing with one another. One girl posting for the first time is competing with several others who have bigger user bases, more content, and more experience with the platform. I do wonder how many people actually make a decent amount of money on Onlyfans and stick with it as compared to those who try it out for a few months and just flame out.

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Goodbye Joseph?

I’ll probably be retiring my website soon (www.josephmreyes.com). I don’t really get so much out of it recently, and quite frankly, it’s more of a temporary repository of my thoughts and art progress than anything else. When I apply to shows, I think people respond more to my CV and the images I send, not really my website. One of the only tangible benefit of having a website is that it exists and the professionalism it suggest. Other than that, there are far better ways to showcase one’s work.

So yeah, I think I’ll just be relying solely on WordPress and Instagram for my web presence sometime soon. Godaddy hasn’t been the best domain host and server either. They are very generous in the beginning, but they add so many costs later on to things that really should be free. If anything, the biggest hassle to giving up my domain would be giving up my email address. Also, it’ll be just a tad more difficult to find me on the Internet. Unless people are looking for me, they won’t know that I exist, which I guess is true for most people in the planet, and I really shouldn’t be an exception.

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On Artists

You are not your job. You are not your relationships. You are not your art either. As much as some artists like to sell their persona as part of their art, it is all bullshit. Only a few people can pull this off. You’re not Warhol. You’re not Dali. Stop it.

너는 너의 직업이 아니요. 너는 너의 관계들이 아니요.너는 너의 예술도 아니요. 일부 예술가는 자신의 페르소나를 예술의 일부로 판매하는 것을 좋아하지만 모두 헛소리요. 소수의 사람만 이것은 할수 있어요. 너는 살바도르 달리가 아니면 멈춰.

Buying a piece of art is not the same as buying a person. A person might be buying a piece of work, but the work should be able to stand on its own, without the artist. Again, I’m talking about artists who are relatively unknown, but I think it’s a mistake to intermingle the personal aspect of social media too much with art. I notice this particularly on Instagram. I think it’s fine to have an art page and have some of your personal life and even development process in your page, but I notice some artists get way too much into themselves and it stops being about the art and more about selling the artist, to which I say, calm down and think first if you really want to do that to yourself. It’s really doing a disservice to your own art and your growth, and probably contributes to perpetuating the image of artists being self-centered attention hounds.

예술품을 사는 것은 사람을 사는 것과는 다라요. 어떤 사람이 예술을 구매할 수도 있지만, 이 예술이 예술가없이 스스로 설 수 있어야해요. 저는 상대적으로 알려지지 않은 예술가들에 대해 이야기하고 있지만 SNS의 개인적인 측면을 예술과 너무 많이 섞는 것은 실수라고 생각해요. 특히 Instagram에서 이것을 발견해요. 아트 페이지를 가지고 있고 너의 개인적인 삶의 일부와 심지어 너의 페이지에 개발 과정을 갖는 것은 괜찮다고 생각해요. 하지만 몇몇 예술가들은 자신에게 너무 깊이 빠져들고 그것이 예술에 관한 것이 아니라 예술가를 판매하는 것에 대해 생각해요. 진정해요. 자신에게 그렇게하고 싶다면 먼저 생각해요. 그것은 정말 너의 예술과 성장에 해를 끼치고 있고 예술가들이 자기 중심적인 이미지를 영속시키는 데 기여할 거요.

One telltale sign of this phenomenon are pictures showing the scale or artworks. Of course this is all just my opinion, but if you want to show the scale of a piece of art and put yourself in the picture, and you take up more real estate than the piece, then maybe the picture on the Instagram page is not about the art at all.

이 현상의 한 가지 분명한 징후는 규모 또는 예술 작품을 보여주는 시진들이에요.물론 이것은 모두 제 의견이요, 하지만 예술의 규모를 보여주고 자신을 그림에 넣고 싶고 예술보다 더 많은 공간을 차지한다면 Instagram 페이지의 그림은 예술에 관한 것이 전혀 아닐 수도 있어요.

The second red flag for me is when I the viewer is constantly informed of the artist’s life and more effort seems to be put on creating the artist’s persona than the art itself. One infamous “artist” in Korea who is no longer in media used to be on TV selling herself as an artist but seems to be more focused on portraying a quirky persona, a dumb and lazy stereotype given to artists. And if one looks up her works, they’re really nothing to write home about. Thankfully, she’s now no longer showing up on television and is so forgotten that her name escapes me.

저에게 두 번째 위험 신호는 시청자가 예술가의 삶에 대해 지속적으로 알리고 예술 자체보다 예술가의 페르소나를 만드는 데 더 많은 노력을 기울이는 거에요. 더 이상 미디어에 출연하지 않는 한국의 한 악명 높은“아티스트”는 예전에는 자신을 아티스트로 판매하는 TV에 출연했지만 아티스트들에게 주어진 멍청하고 게으른 고정 관념 인 기발한 인물을 묘사하는 데 더 초점을 맞춘 것 같아요. 그리고 그녀의 예술을 보면 너는 실망할거에요. 고맙게도 그녀는 이제 더 이상 TV에 나오지 않고 너무 잊혀져 서 그녀의 이름이 기억이 않 와요.

On a similar note, if viewers kept getting reminded of the artist’s condition, be it depression, physical disabilities, or ailments, then I start getting tired, if not irritated. Van Gogh had a very well-established mental condition, but he developed his own style and grew as a post-Impressionist, selling (and at the time failing to sell) his works solely for their merit and not as a byproduct of his illness. Right now, the works stand on their own. We do not need to know he was mentally ill. The same goes with Munch, Goya, and O’Keefe. And while we’re at it, Picasso, Rodin, Michelangelo, Degas, and many others were assholes. But we do not need to know of their assholery to admire their works. The works stand on their own.

마찬가지로, 예술가이 자신의 상태, 우울증, 신체 장애, 질병 등을 계속 시청자에께 상기 시키면 저는 짜증이 나지 않더라도 피곤해지기 시작해요. Van Gogh는 매우 잘 정립 된 정신 상태를 가지고 있었지만 자신의 post-Impressionist 스타일을 개발여 그들의 예술품을 병의 부산물이 아니라 자신의 장점을 위해서만 판매 (하지만 판매하지 못함)했어요. 지금은 그 예술품들이 독자적으로 서 있어요. 그가 정신적으로 아팠다는 것을 알 필요는 없어요. Munch, Goya, O’Keefe도 마찬가지에요. 그리고 우리가 거기에있는 동안 Picasso, Rodin, Michelangelo, Degas 등 많은 사람들이 즘 나빴어요. 그러나 우리는 그들의 예술품에 감탄하기 위해 그들의 나쁜 성격을 알 필요가 없어요. 예술품들이 자체로 서 있어요.

And since we’re talking about asshole artists, I think there’s a difference between enjoying a dead artist’s genius and giving money to a current, living asshole. I think it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the works of dead artists who might have been assholes in the past. It’s the same way one can admire great ancient structures in Europe while completely ignoring about how Europe plundered so much wealth out of so many countries. It’s another thing however to pay for a movie directed by Bryan Singer, Roman Polanski, or Woody Allen. I do love watching the pirated version of “Rosemary’s Baby” however.

그리고 우리는 나쁜 예술가에 대해 이야기하고 있기 때문에, 죽은 예술가의 천재성을 즐기는 것과 현재 살아있는 나쁜 예술가 에게 돈을주는 것에는 차이가 있다고 생각해요. 과거에 나쁜 였을지도 죽은 예술가들의 예술품을 즐기는 것도 괜찮은 것 같아요. 유럽의 위대한 고대 건축물에 감탄할 수있는 것고유럽이 여러 나라에서 얼마나 많은 부를 약탈했는지 완전히 무시하면서. 같은 방식예요. 그러나 Bryan Singer, Roman Polanski 또는 Woody Allen이 감독 한 영화에 대한 비용을 지불하는 것은 또 다른 일이예요. 하지만 “Rosemary’s Baby” 해적판 보는 걸 좋아해요.

The third red flag is something I mentioned in passing. The works simply don’t stand on their own. Taken without the artist in mind, will anyone take notice of it? Does it look amateurish or plain? Not to be insulting here, but elephants can be tortured to paint canvasses. They are very primitive swaths of color, almost like a random accident. But because they are made by tortured elephants, they become something else. Does an artist’s work look average? Is it elevated by the artist’s “story”? Then maybe it’s not about the artwork at all. Now, I love Dada and the idea of found objects and readymades, but their “stories” are concepts which are itself art. I don’t think the everyday life of an artist and their struggles with whatever ails them compares with Dada.

세 번째 신호는 이미 이야기했어요. 그 예술품들은 그 자체로 서 있지 않아요. 예술가 없으면 누가 알아 차 릴까요? 아마추어 같거나 평범 해 보입니까? 여기에서는 모욕적이지 않지만 코끼리는 캔버스를 그리기 위해 고문을 당할 수 있어요. 그들은 거의 우연한 사고처럼 매우 원시적 인 색채요. 그러나 고문당하는 코끼리에 의해 만들어 졌기 때문에 그들은 다른 무언가가되요. 예술가의 예술품이 평균적으로 보입니까? 예술가의 “이야기”로 개선 되었나요? 그렇다면 예술품에 관한 것이 아닐 수도 있어요. Dada와 found objects과 readymades에 대한 아이디어를 좋아하지만 그들의 “이야기”는 그 자체가 예술인 개념에요. 예술가의 일상 생활과 그들이 어떤 병때 투쟁을 Dada와 비교할 수없어요.

So why do I care? Why do I write these things? Because I want you to grow. I want you to look at your work and really evaluate it. If a stranger saw it somewhere, would it be compelling for them or would it be ignored? For what reason should they be staring? Give your audience a reason to stare. Make it about the art and not about yourself. This is why I tend to distrust actors or singers who decide to become artists. Their work can be mediocre but it is immediately elevated by their celebrity, totally separate from any artistic merit of the artwork itself. The only reason people will look at a dumb shoe “made” by Kanye West is that he said he designed it. Forget that they all look dumb compared to other shoes in the market.

그래서 내가 왜 신경을 써야합니까? 왜 이런 것들을 쓰나요? 나는 너를 성장하기를 바라요. 나는 너를 너의 예술품을보고 정말로 평가하기를 바라요. 낯선 사람이 그것을 어딘가에서 본다면, 그것은 그들에게 매력적일까요 아니면 무시 될까요? 그들은 어떤 이유로 쳐다보아야합니까? 청중에게 쳐다보아야할 이유를 제공하세요. 자신에 대한 것이 아니라 예술에 대해 이야기하세요. 예술가되기로 결정한 배우 나 가수를 불신하는 경향이 있어요. 그들의 예술품은 평범 할 수 있지만 예술품 자체의 예술적 장점과는 완전히 별개로 유명인에 의해 즉시 향상되요. 사람들이 Kanye West가 “만든” 멍청한 신발을 보는 유일한 이유는 그가 디자인했다고 말했기 때문에요. 다른 신발에 비해 모두 멍청 해 보인다는 사실을 잊어요.

I think artists need to decide whether they’re selling themselves or their art. Maybe they can be successful at both. It can happen! But often I see people calling themselves artists but are too busy with the art persona and not the art. So yeah, if you’re an artist, start with showing more art and less of your dumb artist face.

에술가들은는 자신의 에술품을 판매하게 아니면 자신의 페르소나를 판매하게 결정해야헤요. 둘 다 성공할 수도 있어요. 그것은 할수 있어요! 그러나 종종 사람들이 스스로를 예술가라고 부르지 만 예술이 아닌 예술가의 인물에 너무 바쁘다는 것을 보에요. 예, 너는 예술가라면 너의 멍청한 예술가 얼굴을 대신에 더 많은 예술을 보여주고 시작하세요.

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A Sinking Ship

Instagram has changed for the worse. Let’s talk about the change in algorithm first. Whoever is in charge of Instagram has decided to make it harder for people to get noticed and get followers. I used to think that it was just me, I thought I had reached a plateau, but then I started seeing complaints from others as well. They’re either not gaining followers, or worse, they’re losing them. When I first started posting regularly, it was not unusual to gain around 100 followers in every week or so. These days, my growth is at a snail’s pace. And with Instagram upgrading me to a creator account, I could see that my engagement and growth is incredibly low. But that’s not all I see. I now constantly see Instagram offering to promote my posts for a price.

I’m guessing Instagram is now pressuring people to pay in order to promote their posts and hopefully see their follower numbers grow. Maybe I’m naive, but these makes me very suspicious of every post I see on “top,” especially if I keep seeing the same account over and over again. Instead of a social network service, it’s turned into a paid commercial service. Users are either being asked to become paid advertisers or deal with other users who are now probably paid advertisers themselves. Add to that the regular advertising users see on their feed.

Of course people are trying to fight back against this trend, asking followers to save their posts, comment, or share to other users, instead of just liking them. These actions are supposed to increase their visibility and allow them to grow. But I don’t know if this will work in the long run. The platform seem quite intent in preventing organic growth. Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think of myself as a pretty decent artist. And when I see someone with mediocre skills get several hundred likes from their tens of thousands of followers, it’s like an ant staring at a mountain. This person probably either boosted their account somehow or has been paying for promotions, and Instagram likes it that way.

Instagram has also decided to make shopping a major part of the platform. Looking at it, they’ve given the stores of the accounts I actually follow very small real estate compared to corporate brands and online stores on the platform. Shopping and browsing through the actual accounts I care about also requires more clicks to look through. Sifting through the stores Instagram is promoting, I notice that perhaps Facebook and Instagram doesn’t have enough data about me. It’s like stumbling through some stranger’s Pinterest/Etsy page. If they’re trying to simulate caring and actually knowing their user base, they’re failing me. I don’t think Instagram will be taking over as one of my go-to platforms for shopping anytime soon.

So what does this do to me? Well, aside from not growing, nothing really. I imagine this is more frustrating for people who are intent on growing their accounts for visibility, business, or whatever, but if the end goal is business, Instagram is discouraging the influencer route and forcing people to reconsider paying for promoting their accounts. I think they’re also catering to people who are already selling through Instagram, not to new players. It was good to see my account organically grow within a couple of years. Honestly, I felt I had better feedback and more exposure as an artist compared to having my works in physical galleries in Korea. But seeing this current trend, I’m worried that Instagram will soon become the next Facebook.

It’s a good thing that Instagram is currently just images and short videos. If it becomes more like Facebook and becomes a platform for fake stories that trick my dad, then I will move on to the next thing.

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Internet Criming

Saint

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, also known as CDA 230, protects Web sites like Facebook or Twitter from liabilities which may be imposed due to third-party contents. So if a Facebook user promoted hate speech or whatever, Facebook as a company will not be held liable for promoting the hate speech, only the one who posted it is liable for it. Simply put, websites are not responsible if their users violate criminal or property law.

A law signed by Donald Trump two years ago poked holes into the protection CDA 230 provides. FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) and SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act) create an exception to CDA 230. Web sites are now liable for prosecution should their users promote sexual services. Advocates of the law have always looked at the worst case scenarios to push the law through, child sexual trafficking, but it ignores the fact that many sexual workers freely operate on the Internet, seeing it as a more secure avenue to ply their trade instead of going underground or on the street.

FOSTA and SESTA has not made the Internet safer for children. The laws simply haven’t. Just recently, a group of Korean teenagers were arrested for operating a Web site that trades, promotes, manufactures, and distributes child pornography. They were able to function for a time even with the laws already in effect. And they were the ones that were caught. Who knows if there are other operators out there currently distributing and manufacturing illegal material? The point is, the laws have just made it more complicated to operate such sites, but it hasn’t eliminated them. If anything, it just made sex work less safe for those who are willingly working in the sex industry. See, pedophilia and child pornography are already crimes. FOSTA and SESTA just makes criminals out of Web site operators and sex workers who have nothing to do with endangering minors. And really, if legislators are really serious about stopping criminals, they would criminalize bitcoins and all forms of cryptocurrency altogether. But you know they won’t.

But this rant is not about FOSTA and SESTA. It is about Facebook. I was just watching Joe Scarborough (I know, I know) rant about how Facebook is openly profiting from hate groups, harassment, and undermining democracy. Mark Zuckerberg does not care that his Web site has become an open market for false information. They were warned prior to the 2016 elections that their site was going to be used to undermine the elections and they were more upset at the people who raised the alarm. Fast forward to 2020, and Facebook is pushing ads on sites that push conspiracy theories and thinly-veiled (if at all) bigotry.

FOSTA and SESTA pierced CDA 230 in order to ineffectively protect children. It is very difficult to go against such legislation, because really, who isn’t against child sex crimes? But if anything was to greater than the love for freedom of speech, it’s the discomfort of people towards sex. This, I believe, is why FOSTA and SESTA were able to pass and why craigslist and backpage.com are no longer able to have people advertising sexual services. It’s not about protecting children. You can talk freely all you want, but once it’s about sex, then legislators are more willing to clamp down on your rights.

So many things that Facebook is allowed to do under the protection of CDA 230 is openly harming people including children. Disinformation over vaccines and COVID-19 is endangering the lives of people. Freely allowing hate groups to operate on the site has led to not only harmful government actions like caging migrant children, but also a rise in hate crimes. Child sexual abuse is bad, but it’s not a suffering Olympics. Other forms of suffering can be just as bad and they are allowed to continue simply because they don’t have the ickiness of sex. One could argue that profiting from undermining democracy is treasonous and is right up there with inadvertently promoting pedophilia.

So what am I saying other than Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are garbage and that FOSTA and SESTA are dangerous pieces of law? I’m saying if legislators could find limitations to the umbrella of protection that CDA 230 provides, they should be able to do so with other offenses. Either that, or just go back to 2016 and make the Internet safer for sex workers. I’m also saying Mark Zuckerberg is a soulless creature that would gladly sell out his country and his neighbors to make a dollar. He won’t even police his own Web site. No patriots exist in the Facebook executive board. If you’re not using Facebook solely to for its Messenger app (because your relatives simply won’t get off it and find alternatives to messaging you), you should delete it. It would be better for you and for everyone. Go read a real newspaper.

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Online Musings

Shrimp

A few things about new life online:

I used to look down at the University of Phoenix and all of these diploma mills which have completely online education programs. It would appear that I was being dumb, especially now that most educational institutions have moved all of their curriculum online. What’s going to be challenging, and one that I’m trying to figure out myself, is how these programs will be dealing with testing and evaluation. Of course, some fields by their nature can be very easily adapted to distance testing be it through a timed online test or via long-form mail-in essays, but how about others? In any case, more people are going to have to be creative trying to come up with ways to educate and test outside of the classroom, and I’m trying to figure out how to basically make testing some skills cheat-proof despite the distance (part of my real job). It’ll be interesting to see how other people approach this problem.

Speaking of prematurely looking down on things. I remember Howard Stern looking down on podcasts and Youtube broadcasts. But now it seems everyone has no choice bu to adapt to Youtube broadcasting now that it’s not advisable to be in television or radio studios. Big names like Stephen Colbert and Seth Myers are working out the kinks to broadcasting at home and they have this sort of guerrilla amateurish vibe to them compared to longtime Youtube broadcasters. I’m not saying that Youtubers are looking to be the more superior form of broadcasters in these coronavirus times. Howard Stern, despite being at home, still managed to replicate the vibe he got from broadcasting in his old studio, complete with all of his staff working from their homes. The late night shows still come out pretty clever and entertaining. So how do these shows manage to do better in my opinion? It’s the writing. They actually have talented writers working hard on them. I don’t want to generalize, but many Youtube shows rely on one gimmick or simply run on the personality of the Youtuber. The ones that are actually good would have proper editors, writers, and producers.

And so now that most education and entertainment is now online. Doesn’t that make Internet connection a basic necessity?

I wonder how apps like Tinder and Grindr are doing these days. Early last year, Tinder began marketing heavily in South Korea. They’ve been in the country for a while but since last year, they began pushing it as a means to find friends of similar interests, not as a hook-up app. But now that everyone is social distancing even in South Korea where the coronavirus is starting to be under control, I can’t imagine people using it too much. And speaking of hooking up, what about people who normally hook up with people? I wonder how they are doing these days. Thinking of all the polygamists, open-relationship havers, and lotharios out there.

I myself have been more active online recently than usual. I don’t normally go out and meet people to socialize prior to the coronavirus pandemic, so I guess I’ve adjust better than most people. I’ve trained myself to be a curmudgeon at a young age and it’s paying off in spades. In any case, Instagram and Twitter are getting quite a workout. There’s family on Facebook, but it’s weird cause I imagine everyone would be just like me now, living like an expat separated from others, whose only connection to friends and family is online. Ignoring people on Facebook or any platform online would be truly, TRULY ignoring them.

Netflix was just introduced to South Korea last November. Whoever brokered that deal must feel like a prophetic genius. I worry about TV shows, movies, and media in general though. We already don’t have sports. At some point, if this keeps up, we’ll be running out of new movies and shows in the hopper. I’m already watching shows I normally would’ve skipped. Even the production of big studio pornography would be in danger. Most would probably be home cams and independent productions.

Online forums can be the most depressing place one can visit. There’s Twitter and its cynicism, but online forums, especially with expats in the country can be especially depressing. I don’t recommend it. If you’re thinking of going online to find people in similar circumstances, don’t do it. It’s just going to get you more depressed. Find stuff to be outraged with online. That’s more helpful than being depressed.

Trump and many conservatives recently predicted that the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic would cause people to want to commit suicide. Just last week, many conservative pundits online have been somewhat suggesting that the death of senior citizens would be preferable than a recession. Ghoulish. Well, since South Korea is basically a month into the future in terms of the virus and suicide rates have been traditionally high in the country, I decided to look at the numbers. In 2019, Koreans have been lamenting that the lackluster economy has been driving people to commit suicide, with the rate being 24.6 per 100,000 in 2016 and expected to grow further. Well, it’s now 2020. The economy hasn’t gotten much better and the coronavirus has made things much worse. The suicide rate in South Korea is somewhere around 26.9 per 100,000. It’s not really that high an increase, in my opinion. I still feel incredibly depressed and each day is a repetitive nightmare of meaningless routines, but I don’t feel any worse than usual.

Thank God for some good long video games coming this month. Unfortunately, while many of them are online, I notice that not many video games being released recently (or these days) are designed to be played couch co-op. They’re either one player games or games to be played with several people online, just not the person you happen to be in the house with. How is a person supposed to bond with people they are quarantined with? Tsk tsk. Seems like a missed opportunity in the apocalypse.

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During the Apocalypse

Alright

Qwerty Magazine, an English literary journal from the University of New Brunswick recently included my works in their fall/winter issue. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Ever since university, I always thought that my works don’t really fit well in a gallery setting. The images are too small and it requires a more intimate inspection than what is normally done in a gallery visit. This is why I had my first collection of works published shortly after graduating.

Anyway, a big thank you to Qwerty for including me. In these coronavirus times, people are canceling art openings and many galleries are struggling. There really is no good reason to be gathering with a big group of people, unless it’s for a vital cause. Looking at art and consuming free wine and cheese is hardly something one should risk getting the coronavirus for. This is why it’s good to have alternatives to showing my art, be it online or publications. Now, it can be more difficult selling works online as opposed to directly meeting with people in galleries, but I was never really big on selling my art anyway.

I don’t really care if people buy them. You see them, you enjoy them… I’m content.

I have come to a hard epiphany though, and it’s not just me, many gallery owners I know have come to realize this as well: we have to improve our Internet game. Outside of Instagram, I don’t really have much exposure online in regards to my works. And I haven’t even really been that active one Instagram until about a year and a half ago. I’m not really set up for online sales, and people who are interested in my works have to go through a prolonged, archaic process of getting money transferred.

Many galleries are similar. They don’t really have a platform for promoting artists’ works online. They are simply there to provide a space in the real world to show works. Here, like many others in Canada as well, they rely on the artists to bring their own people to the gallery, people already familiar with the artist. They don’t have their own community of art lovers independent of the current artist showing their works.

Once the physical gallery is taken away, like for example because of the coronavirus, there is very little incentive for artists to get involved with many galleries since they don’t have a platform to launch the artist out to the greater art community. Artists would be better off marketing their works themselves since they might have the same digital clout, if not bigger, than many galleries. Galleries, much like artists, need to improve their Internet game and build a robust network which can promote artists outside of the physical gallery. And that’s the biggest change right there, they need to promote the artists, not really on people who already know the artist to bring digital and physical traffic. It’s not enough just to provide physical space. Otherwise, they would become less relevant as time goes by.

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