Let’s Surf the Internet!

Let's surf the internet!. johndockus

I painted this satirical picture before I owned my first personal computer.

Like a moth around a lantern, the new age Super Hero, with a dollar sign on his chest and wings of paper money, flutters around, leaping from leaf to flower, fingering the keyboard – an extension of his body – while his attention is riveted to the glowing screen of Lady Lightning Bug.  The more she arouses and excites him, text and images flashing on the screen, the more vigorously he fingers the keyboard, the more brightly she shines in the night.

I humbly apologize to those of you who find this image obscene, but isn’t there some truth to it?   It’s a crude representation of the relation between commerce and computer technology, the strange courtship and mating ritual between these two entities, and also a comment on the self-gratifying and onanistic nature of the computer experience.   Computer technology:  which now pervades all aspects of life, even intimate areas.   We’re continually fingering our devices, tapping on them and rubbing them, checking on them obsessively, our attention riveted to the glowing screens.


  1. This one made me laugh!
    Brilliant illustration.
    “Computer technology: which now pervades all aspects of life, even intimate areas. We’re continually fingering our devices, tapping on them and rubbing them, checking on them obsessively, our attention riveted to the glowing screens.” – kind of fits in with what I was rambling on about my last reply to your comment.

  2. I’m glad this image made you laugh, Taudalpoi. I sometimes long for the days when I existed in deep isolation, not having a computer or even a cellphone. My thinking was different in those days, more agonizingly existential, but also deeper and clearer, more palpably connected to reality, and having more sides to it.

    A couple months ago I wrote and posted the following long comment at another blog, the post having to do with the problem of categorization in relation to outsider art, the increasing involvement and impact of technology and computers on creativity, and from the writer of that blog I received no reply, not a word. So, since that person made me feel like I wasted my time, I reclaim my words and post them here for you to read, Taudalpoi, and anyone else who may chance upon them:

    Perhaps only in solitude, through renunciation of society, outside of the huge network of social media, can we be free. But the price to pay is isolation. Once we reach out to connect with others in different locations, to share what we’ve done, that’s when tags and labels are applied. The huge amount of information now flowing through social media channels must be pared down for competing interests and limited attention spans. Categories and tags are the levy walls and viaducts to direct flows of information, to create pools where individuals with “common interests” can find each other, splash around and swim together. Even those who try to avoid category, end up in a category of those who try to avoid categories. The most obvious qualities are seized upon, then tags are applied. One is then fitted into a category. The longer one succeeds in eluding category the more likely one is to find oneself adrift in the vast sea of Indifference. Again: the price to pay is isolation. Mystery, what defies category, is kept by most people at a distance from fear and distrust. It’s a kind of phobia which draws individuals together into groups. One feels safer and more sense of belonging around the easy and superficial. So again categories are resorted to quite often for social reasons, to bring together individuals who one suspects already agree and only desire approval and affirmation from each other. To be too different, ranging too far from the familiar, to scramble expectations and to create havoc out of which comes a new way of seeing, is to hack away at the umbilical cord connecting us all to the huge network of social media, the Mother’s milk of social interaction, of acceptance, of getting “likes” and “followers”. It’s a double-edged sword to be sure, because indeed categorization falsifies and fails to do justice to the full richness and complexity of any individual, but to get the honey of any attention, one must reach into the buzzing hive and, unless one is a Zen Master, at least once get stung: which means being tagged and categorized.

    Window-dressing, the shop window, populates the internet, wares are displayed, attempts to lure in potential buyers who in lieu of cash pay in praise and compliments. We look at each other’s work, peering at it through the glass, but rarely enter the door; and when we do enter, the little bell tinkling, we mostly browse, skimming surfaces, spending little time considering individual objects with much depth and attention, often departing without leaving a trace. Shopping – and collecting – has become significant in our time. Individuals collect favorites, have “Best of” lists to help define their identities within larger constellations of groups. Top ten favorite movies. Top ten authors. Top ten list of Outsider Artists. Put it on YouTube with a soundtrack for dramatic effect. Nothing speaks so much to this tendency to abbreviation, the “In a Nutshell” mentality and bowing down to Category, as the popularization of the top ten list.

    Some of the more profound posts in the blog world and most interesting and challenging art seems on its own to receive less attention and fewer comments. Maybe initially the silence is from awe and wonder, but eventually such work passes by unremarked on, unable to be easily assimilated, unless committed and devoted others bring some attention and appreciation to it. Otherwise it floats out into the vast sea of Indifference, where the yawning abyss swallows it up. It says something about how the nature of attention has changed, where the “sweet spot” of social interaction and popularity is, where one must aim, the compromises one must make, if one is to gain any traction and to keep others as part of an audience coming back for more. Human consciousness itself has been radically transformed by social media, so that now categories as pre-sets seem to be built into it, even before anything is seen or heard or experienced. Conditioned and programmed, we rely increasingly on automated processes, things done for us, so much so that one day, who knows, a simple line drawing of graphite on paper may seem something done only by an “outsider artist”. The chip has been planted. As William Burroughs observed: The word is now a virus. Things go “viral.” Everything has a code. The time of Cyborgs as not science fiction but Reality is near. It’s something happening to us all, to human consciousness itself.

    In the end it will be outsider artists who reveal without pretension and affectation what we have lost of our humanity in the name of Progress. Outsider artists are shamans who sweat poison out of the cosmic body, playing out contemporary maladies we secretly share. They do a lot of crazy things, not always successful. They dig holes and crouch in them, with mud smeared on their faces. They sit shivering in the dark blowing on glowing embers. But they continue on in the night of the soul, pursuing their obsessions, until they break through with something created never before seen. To me the outsider artist is he or she who channels and transforms into personal vision and unique expression the archetypal lone voice that cries out in the wilderness.

  3. What worries me most about this one, is that it is a turn on.
    Am I that deep into the impersonality of electronic communication? How many other folk have gone from decrying the loss of person-to-person service, to actually preferring to not have to deal with other human beings?
    I need to see my therapist.

    • Greetings, Tailless Monkey:

      Pardon my delay replying. Really kind of you to leave your comments.

      Picking up on what you’ve written here, one might say new fetishes – new turn-ons – have been created through technology. It would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t indulged my own curiosity.

      Somewhere in my apartment in one of the piles around here, I have sketches I did some time ago of human & insect hybrids, with the “insectian” parts coinciding with technology. Of course this isn’t a new idea. As form follows function in the production of certain kinds of machines and technology – objects made by humans and for human use – the insect form comes up naturally as one prototype, just as does the bird in the consideration and designing of flying machines.

      In artistic expression there are definitely satirical and humorous possibilities to explore in this particular variant of the hybrid idea, in light of the fascinated disgust and phobic reactions insects often arouse in us human beings, who up close and personal certainly have our own disgusting things about ourselves! The similarity between us and insects doesn’t end in that with a little distance and detachment, a kind of beauty and wonder can appear. I imagine a superior being visiting from another planet would marvel at us human beings for a honeymoon period, observing what is good and attractive, before becoming disillusioned and coming to regard the majority as pests and parasites.

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