Embracing change: Video content on Instagram and tips for the art world

As you may have heard, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has recently announced that Instagram will start leaning into (to use his exact words) video content more in order to stay relevant and compete with or, as some may say, emulate, another particularly popular social media platform, TikTok. I will ponder this mainly in association with business and content creator accounts. First of all, this decision has caused conflicting feelings among Instagram users, including artists and photographers who prefer imagery over video content. For many of us this announcement wasn’t shocking, it seemed like the natural progression of events, as Instagram has already integrated various video features to stay relevant. If you check out Mosseri’s Instagram video on this topic, many top comments are critical of this decision. Instagram started as a photo-sharing app and some users want it to remain that way, at least primarily, but it now seems to shift from aesthetics and connection towards entertainment. In the art world, we can aim to merge all these separate aspects – aesthetics, connection, education, and entertainment.

It wouldn’t be a problem if Instagram tweaked video, increasing video quality, expanding formats, or introducing new video features, since some types of information can be conveyed better through video, whilst others shine through image or text. Different types of formats can all meaningfully coexist on your feed, if you want and if that approach makes sense and aligns with your brand. There are definitely many advantages to incorporating video into your content strategy, regardless of the nature of your business. Video captures the viewer’s attention for longer and can establish a stronger connection to a brand. If, however, you feel it’s not compatible with your work and interests, you might like being able to choose whether you would rather focus on consuming and creating another type of content. The main worry is that you will have no choice if you’re interested in social media growth and relevance, as the algorithm will prioritise videos over imagery, and photos will lose visibility, hence significantly diminishing the reach of those relying on imagery. Instagram will experiment with new video strategies, such as prioritising recommendations of videos on users’ feeds, including video content from accounts you may not be following yet. When it comes to bringing in and encouraging a different type of content, with a different… vibe, from another social media platform (so here I’m no longer referring to video as a format, but to a specific type of video content), there is always the risk of alienating some users. Wouldn’t it be better to compete by getting better at what you are already doing well, rather than altering it to emulate a different business model in order to conquer it? That is the main question posed by the critics.

We’re no longer a photo sharing app, or a square photo-sharing up. The number one reason people say they use Instagram in research is to be entertained, so people are looking to us for that. What we are trying to do is lean into that trend, into entertainment and into video. Because there’s some really serious competition right now- Tik Tok. […] We are also experimenting with how to embrace video more broadly- full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. We will be experimenting with that in the following months.”— Adam Mosseri

I will mention some ways and video content ideas that you can use in the art world to adapt to the changing digital landscape that pushes video. Mosseri emphasises this word: entertainment. Instagram, art, and videos can all be seen, paradoxically, as both a form of escapism and connection to the world, that’s one thing they have in common. Let’s embrace video and look at this as a great opportunity to boost your digital presence on social media and to reach and appeal to a wider audience. Focusing on video can be more challenging, as it’s a more complex type of content in a professional context, requiring a more thoughtful approach put into consistency in frequency and message, but it is definitely worth investing time in. Video is a great resource for visual and multimedia storytelling. It can add value and it can be more meaningful, as it stops mindless scrolling. Videos can be educational, informative, and promotional. In any case, they have to capture people’s attention. Tell a story. Make it memorable.

Some galleries have already successfully incorporated video into their Instagram strategy (look at the National Gallery). I am going to share with you some ideas that can apply to galleries, museums, other art institutions and companies, studios, and individual artists.

– Firstly, you can film and edit a creative video providing a glimpse into the gallery or studio.

– Make a video emphasising the values you want to embody, promoting your mission and brand identity

– Create an exhibition preview, a walk through or virtual tour of the exhibition. You can create hybrid videos in which you mix image and video content.

– Produce a video featuring the body of work of a particular artist, accompanied by atmospheric sound and enticing voice-over

– A video of an individual artwork, from multiple angles, with close-ups on details, and storytelling. A great example that remained engraved in my mind is an in-depth analysis of “Mary Magdalene in ecstasy”, a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi. You can find this video through Google Arts & Culture. It is an intimate video, the voice of the narrator is hypnotic, the voice-over is poetic, the atmosphere of the video is mystical and mesmerising. This is a great personal tribute to Artemisia.

– You can create video content that is organised based on specific themes in art, or movements, or style, in the form of brief, artistic documentaries. You can use an art historian as a video host, someone who is passionate about and can delve into a specific topic, providing a fresh perspective and presenting it in a unique, engrossing way. Tate’s “Unlock Art” series on YouTube was quite successful, focusing on artistic themes and art history moments, including Surrealism, performance art, Women in Art, pop art, and nudity in art.

– Produce videos about gallery and museum events, activities, initiatives, and practices.

– If you’re an artist or you’re working with an artist, you can go for time-lapses, as people are often interested in the creative process from beginning to end. You can also show the studio or location in which a piece of art has been created. In some cases it is better if you post this as ephemeral content, aka Stories. As an artist, you can also post Reels showing off your inspiring progress.

Think of your Instagram feed as a work of art in itself. Post high-quality videos and images on there. You can use Instagram stories to provide a more informal and spontaneous glimpse behind the scenes of a gallery or an installation.

– You can also conduct video interviews and Q&As with artists or curators.

– Here’s an idea that can apply to anyone: Insert video into a static image, or the other way around. Attach graphic images to moving backgrounds.

– You have the option of including a call to action at the end of your videos.

Some key words for video content in the art world are: emotionally evocative, engaging, informative, and aesthetically pleasing.

Check out my new Instagram account; I created it as an online portfolio where I also post digital content ideas and effective tactics and techniques tailored for social media management in the art and film world.

https://www.instagram.com/socialmedianart/

The Uncanny & London Exhibitions January – March 2020

Introduction: Reflections on the Uncanny

“The uncanny” is a bemusing, unsettling, strangely familiar phenomenon characterised by a feeling of disruptive eeriness and unreality piercing through the fabric of the mundane; it generates a particular type of response in one’s psyche and evokes an ineffable feeling. The uncanny generally teeters on the blurred lines between reality and illusion, self and other, life and death, the natural and the unnatural. It is a subjective experience, to which some people are more susceptible than others; and ultimately, it’s an elusive feeling, which varies from person to person, both in the source that stimulates it and in the particularities of the response it elicits. There is a notable distinction to be made between the cultural view of the uncanny – as represented through pieces of art, film, or other media, and the psychoanalytic one, as introduced by Freud in his influential essay on aesthetics, Das Unheimliche

uncanny-collage
Art by Feebrile

In fiction, the uncanny has often been associated with recurrent themes such as the double/doppelgänger figure, reflections, mirroring, strangely familiar apparitions, haunted homes, horror, & the symbolic return of the repressed in the form of ghosts, monsters, or other Gothic figures. In art, objects such as wax masks, automata, and lifelike dolls tend to be described as uncanny. This refers to what is known as the Uncanny Valley, emphasising the unsettling, repulsive effect of things of an ambiguous lifelike nature, objects that appear to be human and alive, but upon closer examination reveal themselves to be flawed human replicas. However, in psychoanalytic terms used to describe real-life phenomena, the uncanny diverges from the cultural perspective.

Nell-Dorr-Estate-Collection-Double-exposure portrait-of-elderly-Lillian-Gish-in-field-with-flowing-white-dress-Nell-Dorr-c. 1950s-60s

“[…]According to theological principles, these seemingly natural, living, moving figures are spectral, mere images, uncanny because illusory. Such images or effigies consequently appear to supplant reality or take over from it when no prior referent remains in existence (the Seven Deadly Sins are allegories, Helen is long gone). The uncanny is an effect of reflection without referent, or of creation ex nihilo. In other words, it rises from a false impression that soul, in all its imprecision and mystery, is breathing into something; but these intimations of soul presence begin to stir only to be withheld. Living likenesses strive to guarantee and perpetuate presence, but ultimately underline the vanished and absent subject; creepily, they resemble someone or something who is not there, as in a mirror reflection with no subject.” -Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-first Century 

Psychoanalytic discourse emphasises the subjectivity of the phenomenon, shifting the focus from the objects themselves (which are not inherently endowed with uncanniness) to how we, the observers, experience certain objects, settings, situations, and, as I would suggest, also art shows and artworks, in a way that perceptually challenges or disrupts our sense of reality, making us aware of the unfamiliar present in the familiar, and resurrecting phantom elements or modes of perception from our past, particularly from early childhood. Within these intimate moments, our being has an inner dialogue whilst a haunting sense of unreality temporarily permeates the fibres of our existence. In this light, the uncanny encompasses experiences such as a human subject unconsciously or seemingly accidentally returning to the same spot several times (as if compelled or pushed by an external force), the feeling of deja-vu, a peculiar sense of being watched, potentially by something supernatural, finding objects that you thought were lost forever, or stepping into an empty place that is normally filled with people. When it comes to the aesthetic experience, Derrida’s concept of hauntology applied to art (the extended definition of art) refers to how hauntological aesthetics can induce an otherworldly nostalgia by invoking phantoms of the past that are neither present nor absent, as well as a sense of a lost future.

In one of his inspiring talks held at the Freud Museum, British psychoanalyst Darian Leader linked the uncanny response with elements of anxiety, fear, and shock. Meanwhile, I have previously experienced the uncanny as a dream state, a combination of weightlessness, derealisation, lightheadedness, a sense of a distant, diffuse past merging with the present, of time being suspended or dissipated, of another world permeating current reality. I would describe it as a spiritual occurrence which can be resurrected by a scent, a melody, a film, an atmosphere, or an object, making me see the world through another lens, belonging to a much younger version of myself, who used to process the world in a more mystical way. This impression, this world pouring through another world, this repetition of a way of seeing is ambiguous, as it’s filtered through memories, which can morph as time goes by and “re-shape” the past. Such memories can summon echoes of seemingly insignificant, disjointed aspects and sensory moments that our minds may have considered fascinating. They are often distorted, or disguised. Unlocking the meaning behind a childhood memory is like drawing the latent image from the manifest dream. The uncanny response is sensory, emotional, and intellectual at the same time. Darian Leader also mentioned how a change in the subject’s self-image can appear in such moments, a self-perception as an object of the gaze of a higher external force, a perception of the self as ‘the other’, a fleeting sense of alienation from one’s own constructed identity, desires, sense of the world, or from reality. Darian Leader also emphasised the dimension of conscious or unconscious desire that is relevant in this context, and how the cancellation of the gap of that desire, so the moment of its fulfilment (i.e. the desire to find something or to recreate an old narrative or scenario) stimulates an uncanny response.

Freud’s essay starts with an in-depth analysis of the ambiguous meanings behind ‘heimlich’ and ‘unheimlich’, exemplifying the multiple uses of the German words, and how they are not always antonyms. Link to Freud’s essay on the uncanny: Das Unheimliche.

London Exhibitions – Last chance to see:

The Uncanny: A Centenary

Through The Uncanny exhibition, The Freud Museum celebrates 100 years since Freud defined and explored the concept of the uncanny in his well-known, pioneering essay on aesthetics entitled “Das Unhemliche”. The Uncanny programme held at the Freud Museum has included inspiring talks by Freudian psychoanalysts, artists, and academics on the topics of the uncanny in art, the uncanny in film, and the uncanny as a real life experience.

the-uncanny-the-sandman-freud-museum-art

Immerse yourself in the evocative artworks exhibition and the haunting installation inspired by T. A. Hoffmann’s The Sandman at the Freud Museum. The exhibition features etchings by German surrealist artist, Hans Bellmer, as well as disturbing recent works by Elizabeth Dearnley, Lili Spain, Martha Todd and Karolina Urbaniak & Martin Bladh. Moreover, you can see Freud’s death couch, as well as trying the Sandman App, through which you can have an unsettling audio tour of the museum, with the Sandman installation as the memorable epilogue.

Death-Mask-of-Sergei-Pankejeff-the-Wolf-Man-Collection-of-the-Freud-Museum-London

Besides the immersive exhibition, which is open for two more weeks, you can also attend two upcoming uncanny events, which can be found on the official website. One of the events is focused on Freud’s essay and links between psychoanalysis and literature, led by literature teacher Forbes Morlock, and the other, “Funerary Masks and Death Masks” is a talk by Nick Reynolds, British sculptor and creator of death masks.

Exhibition at Freud Museum until 9 February 2020.


Dora Maar

Surrealist photographs by Dora Maar, influential, nonconformist French photographic artist and one of the few female artists from within the famous group of the 1920s-1930s surrealists.
The uncanny artworks of Dora Maar include double exposures, photograms, and photomontages, often imbued with a sense of melancholy and tenebrosity, depicting scenes ranging from the poetic solitude and ambiguity of Parisian boulevards and urban life, to unconventional representations of fashion, erotica, symbolic self-portraits, and figures and silhouettes viewed from strange perspectives, as well as ghastly creatures. One of her most iconic images, the delicate hand crawling out of the shell on a desolate beach surrounded by an ominous skyscape with apocalyptic clouds, is filled with grace, vulnerable elegance, frailty, doom, nostalgia, as well as a strange erotic quality. The juxtaposition of elements creates a surreal dreamlike narrative. In addition to her surreal art, the artist also approached and represented the world realistically, through natural photographic captures of simple, seemingly unplanned moments, visual vernacular, and candid narratives within the urban space.
Dora Maar has been known as the model, muse, and lover of Picasso, whose dark portrayal of her in his work-particularly in “The Weeping Woman” as a suffering, tortured, yet monstrously threatening figure- she vehemently rejected, declaring that all his depictions of her are deceptions with no link to her character.

dora-maar-by-lee-miller
Dora Maar photographed by Lee Miller in her Paris home cca 1956. Featuring a Picasso portrait of her on the mantelpiece.

Captivated by her beauteous transfixing appearance and intellectual and artistic brilliance, Picasso developed an obsession with painting her in a multitude of ways, albeit distorted, stylised ways, blending various personal themes with his subject. Dora Maar often painted portraits of Picasso and other members of the surrealist circle. She was also photographed and influenced by renowned surrealist photographer Man Ray. Brassai described her saying that she had “bright eyes and an attentive gaze, a disturbing stare at times”, whilst James Lord poetically painted her inner and outer beauty in words, also starting with the windows of the soul: “Her gaze possessed remarkable radiance but could also be very hard. I observed that she was beautiful, with a strong, straight nose, perfect scarlet lips, the chin firm, the jaw a trifle heavy and the more forceful for being so, rich chestnut hair drawn smoothly back, and eyelashes like the furred antennae of moths” (J. Lord, Picasso and Dora, New York, 1993). After parting ways with Picasso, she was treated by French psychoanalyst Lacan and eventually decided to embrace the path of solitude and mysticism, whilst still expressing herself through various forms of art.

The exhibition provides an amazing opportunity to explore the complex, bewitching, enigmatic inner world of the woman whose distinguished work and artistic identity have often been eclipsed by her legendary association with the famous cubist artist.

Dora Maar’s work is exhibited at Tate Modern until 15 March 2020.


William Blake

Mesmerising, mystical, soul-stirring artworks from the allegorical universe of William Blake. Born in Soho, London, Blake was a fascinating artist whose work was misunderstood and deemed to be a sign of madness by his contemporaries, being far ahead of its time due to its expressively dark, sacrilegious nature and the sometimes grotesque creatures depicted. His work received merit and recognition mostly posthumously, as he is now one of the most highly revered English poets and visual artists. The artist’s work was fuelled by the otherworldly visions he started experiencing from a young age. His iconic, symbolic imagery features faeries, devils and angels, fictional deities invented by him- embodiments of philosophical concepts governing his universe, other religious and celestial themes, suffering, sexual violence, scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy, as well as Miltonic and Shakespearean characters. As it can be observed in the images above, there is a mixture between the ethereal & the sinister in his depictions of angelic beings and blissful scenes and dark, hellish ones with titles such as “The Number of the Beast is 666” and “The Agony in the Garden”.

The Times exhibition review: “Find yourself transported into strange, enraptured realms.”

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”– William Blake

William Blake’s oeuvre is now on exhibition at Tate Museum until 2 February 2020


Katie Eleanor: “The Sialia Marbles”

Katie Eleanor is a London-based contemporary fine art photographer and Photographic Arts Graduate from the University of Westminster. Inspired by marble sculptures, the sculptural nature of Oscar Gustave Rejlander’s artworks, as well as scenes and characters from myths and from the artist’s fictional world, artistic memory, or, as she evocatively refers to it, the museum of her mind, “The Sialia Marbles” exhibition features hand-coloured photographic prints depicting ethereal beings frozen in time, marble-like, sometimes angelic-looking, other times ghostly. The uncanny dimension of her artworks stems from the dichotomous interplay between liveliness and death, between the ephemeral and the immortal qualities of her art; the rigidity and physical longevity of marble statues and the fluidity and ephemerality of the human performer; the deathlike stillness and the implication of physical and emotional movement. The beings depicted are also characterised by the archetypal (sentient-inanimate) ambiguity belonging to the Uncanny Valley.

The tableaux of Katie Eleanor allude to religious iconography and mythology art, with some subjects appearing to be solemn, others dramatic, involved in intense narratives. The veiled, white, diaphanous subjects portrayed are reminiscent of spirit photography, which amplifies the uncanny effect. It’s as if we are waiting for the motionless inhabitants of these unknown worlds to transcend the parameters of their existence within art; waiting for them to move towards the edge of the frame or fade away, for their veils to slip and reveal a change in expression, for their eyes to meet ours or glow. At the same time, the resemblance with statues (thus with something inanimate) makes this expectation perplexing.

The process behind the images includes the ritual of painting the models, performing a scene, the post-production process of hand colouring and enhancing the texture of the black and white analogue photographs. “Sialia” is the scientific name for bluebird – which Katie mentions is her alter ego, and the choice to include the word ‘marbles’ in the series title is congruent with her museum without walls parallel- a collection of uncanny human statues from her imaginary museum. The use of analogue photography and old film techniques brings uniqueness to the artworks; the physical, haptic quality of her work makes it more memorable and evocative, taking us on a mental trip through photographic art practices and through history, bringing back cultural artefacts and the sensory, magical properties of photography belonging to the pre-digital age. In more ways than one, Katie Eleanour’s photographs transcend temporality, having a hauntological dimension.

“I love tableaux vivants and creating intense, ambiguous scenarios with my performers. Angels are found in so much religious and historical visual culture, so they are familiar. They also symbolise protection, particularly when the series is viewed as a whole. I am not a particularly religious person, but I believe in sanctuary. My brain and my imagination are my sanctuary, and that is something I associate with these solemn spaces. It’s all creating a sanctuary for the viewer to inhabit, a sense of stillness and introspection.” – Katie Eleanor, Image Journal interview, 2019

karie-eleanor-st-lucy
Saint Lucy by Katie Eleanor

Among the figures depicted in her work, you can find Saint Lucy and Daphne. After seeing a painting of Saint Lucy by Francesco Del Cossa, displayed at the National Gallery, the artist reveals:

“I was struck by the contrast between the brutality of her story and this ornate, delicate, almost whimsical rendering. In my version, the bandages over her eyes are significant, as I find the eyes of sculptures particularly haunting and vacant. This piece is a kind of homage to an amazing character in history.” – Katie Eleanor, Image Journal interview, 2019

“The Sialia Marbles” collection is on show at MMX Gallery until 15 February 2020


Other exhibitions:

Tim Walker – Victoria and Albert Museum until 22 March 2020

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh- Saatchi Gallery until 3 May 2020

Motionless

It’s my first time. Half of my motionless body rests inside the white, clinical, cylindrical machine, in my head resembling an intergalactic coffin. I feel an itch, but I have to resist moving. I want to cough, to sneeze, to yawn, ugh, of course, at the most inopportune moments, and I have to keep it under control and be still. My legs are too tense, my lower body feels heavy. I am mentally calm. But my body wants permission to move. Since this is just a brain scan, I try to make a slight leg movement, but it feels like trying to lift an anchor. My mind keeps freezing. There is the buzz. It’s getting louder. And stranger. Then the clanking. The whirring. Suddenly thoughts of the few MRI safety incidents and fatalities I’ve read about vaguely infiltrate my mind in a weirdly serene way. I should have double-checked there is definitely no metal anywhere in or around this room. Oh come on, when something like this enters my mind, I think – what are the odds? and what is the point of obsessing over the odds?- and the thought melts away. I can remember basic aspects about my life, but there is something peculiar about this eerily cold, sterile room, this atmosphere; it’s holding back any specific memories, any feelings, any complex thoughts- I can’t really visualise anything about my past or about life outside this tube. I mean, the noise is quite obstructive, so whenever a thought or a mental image starts materialising, it quickly dissolves. I have a rare, evanescent, uncanny feeling that there is a higher presence or force watching over me. This reminds me of my pre-atheistic, childhood days when I had an agnostic belief in animism and in magical thinking- the belief that one’s thoughts could influence reality, which was problematic whenever I had dark, “forbidden”, ungodly thoughts resulting in fear of divine punishment and futile attempts at suppression. There is a surreal atemporality about this space, it’s like reality is suspended. If my whole body slid into this alienating horizontal cylinder, it would really feel like I’m inside an eccentric, futuristic coffin. That’s spine-chilling. And yet, despite my claustrophobic tendencies, I wish I had a full body scan so I could be encapsulated and see what it would be like if my consciousness or my spirit found a way to return to my corpse a hundred years from now. I don’t believe in it, but I like fantasising. My ego is temporarily numb and any vivid memories are gone, replaced by brief, fleeting perceptions, and it’s one of the few moments in which I’m not living in the past or in the future. I’m living in the now. I feel alive and calm, oddly calm. An oddly calm combination of cells, lying down in a tube, with an ego on snooze mode. Oh, it’s time to get back out there…

Various poems

Catatonic state

I feel your ashes
like quicksand
I’m sucked into
so I’m standing still
trying to enjoy the view.

 

Your faith

I never confessed this but
your faith helped keep me
anchored in myself
whenever the currents started
hitting from all sides.
I just wanted to thank you
for still existing in my mind.

 

Extensions

Extensions of me
are ramifying under
your skin.
Does it hurt when
I unravel your bloody
nightmares?

 

Discrepancy

As you weed them out,
slowly, the space between
you and the other you-
both mental concepts-
will become smaller
and smaller
until they merge into one
at which point you will look
around, filled with life,
no longer tainted, you will
open your eyes and see
the discrepancy is abolished
but so is everyone else.

Identity & divided introspection

As a Postgraduate student in the arts (the extended definition of art, including film, photography, and literature), I often find that I have to reconcile two sides of myself when it comes to my blog and digital footprint, both of these sides being complex and assertive to the point that I can call them two selves:

One of them is my artistic identity, which has been shaped over the years by several factors, hopefully progressing in style, concept, aesthetic, and presentation. This self prefers to express an inner world indirectly, through symbols and conceptual images. Within this context, there are concerns about projection and representation: the conception of the self, the reconciliation between truth and appearance, the gaps in between, inner and outer perceptions, and questions regarding aesthetic. I explore my self through different forms of art, the result being a reflection of something within. This is why I tend to eliminate previous work, once I feel like I surpassed it in some way, like I have become someone else since then, and I no longer identify with the selves I presented prior to some particular life-turning knowledge. This self thinks creating art is the aim; this self is raw, unapologetic about its at times elusive symbolic nature in which there is depth and sincerity to be found, but which is often too preoccupied with finding the right way of expression. Through this perception, less is more when it comes to conveying what is within, in that explanations are unnecessary, as creative endeavours are self-sufficient. Creative language is essential and absolute to how I perceive myself. Thus I don’t like talking about myself directly, for it seems any description would not comprise all the depths.

However, objectively, you cannot always tell that much about someone’s personality through their artwork, of whatever nature, and I am saying this despite the fact that I feel like I pour myself entirely into it, sometimes. In fact, perhaps, being on the outside, looking in, you can only see a fraction, which is open to interpretation. When you take a photograph of a place you experienced with rapture, or a portrait, you remember those moments, and you associate the photograph with them, feeling that it conveys so much because it is charged with your feelings. But those emotions remain within you, and the photograph is an extension of you, thereby others will not perceive it as you do. They will perceive it based on how it resonates with their own being.

To return to the suggested dichotomy, the other self involves the social and analytical nature. The one allowing me to write this sincere post in a public space, going against the privacy and representation concerns of the first. Because of this other inclination, I started my blog, rather than simply going for a portfolio website. Because of this, I did not use a pen name for it. In this case, the social use of language is essential, while promoting or exploring the poetic and photographic language. Sincerity means exposure; exposure means sincerity. Reaching others through this sincerity and through more unequivocal forms of expression is important. This self mediates my relationship with the outside world. It also means I try to let go, allow myself to make progress in various areas of life without having to get rid of previous versions of myself forever. This self is raw and unapologetic about its direct stream-of-consciousness confessions.

In other words, there is a constant battle between revealing too much and not revealing enough when it comes to life, social media persona, just as when you take a photograph. Should there be a curation of thoughts? Yes. Should it be based on what makes sense at the time, or what seems to represent a more long-lasting belief? Most websites, and most artworks imply careful curation of content. Sometimes it feels that you can more easily convey something, your artistic awareness, and an awareness of what is within, an inner permanence and at the same time touch an audience through selected conceptual artwork rather than distract with random thoughts and perhaps temporary beliefs, whilst other times it feels like these perhaps not-so-random thoughts and temporary beliefs are a significant part of you, as they represent your thought process at a particular time, even if you later realise it was not perfect. Being able to balance these two comes with experience.

There are many branches in this tree, and this post extended on many, but hopefully they can all be grasped without leaves falling.

Pleasures in life

My happiness is sometimes derived from:

The scents of acacia flowers, honeysuckle and snowdrops; the taste of greengages.

Moments when I feel I love what I am doing: when I get excited while reading research or creative writing – and, consequently, when I feel like I can contribute to the research or I can create stories – either through words or photographs. When I am inspired – to create and to live fully.

Meeting people I truly connect with. Everything is genuine and pure, everything flows, the masks are left aside, and no one questions another’s words or feelings. You just know what is happening, share the same smile, and are able to live, truly live in each other’s company without performing. The feeling of belonging.

Peace of mind, in general, or moments of blissful lightheartedness. When every veil of worry, gloom or heaviness is lifted up and I feel unconditional love and self-love within. This is also when I can appreciate every simple aspect of being. It even feels like my body is lighter, like I float, just as my thoughts do.

Wandering in fantasy worlds reminiscent of my childhood.

Running. Setting goals and accomplishing them.

Finding a film I am profoundly touched by. If you know me, you know how intensely I can immerse into films. I become the character, I live the films when I watch them. The pleasure consists in the experience itself, in losing and finding yourself in a concept or a story. It can be revealing, too.

Adventures. waterfalls. explorations in nature; admiring its grandeur, but also the grandeur of an old temple or a rich urban or futuristic noir-looking area.

Those rare moments my writing always eventually comes back to; the ones I try to grasp through words, but fail. Those surreal moments.

Living in a place decorated by me, where I can have my own space, a secret garden where my pet would dwell, and arch-shaped windows. The decor would be elegantly dark in some rooms, fantasy-like in others, and there will be at least one room with everything in it white and light (see Valerie’s room from “Valerie and her Week of Wonders”). There would be Gothic art, paintings spanning different cultures, motifs, and ages – with a preference for Pre-Raphaelite depictions of mythological scenes, candlelit rooms at night, and classical and dark atmospheric music filling the hallway. Ideally, I’d have this variety of design styles to suit my whims.

To mention a one-off: Hearing Sharon den Adel’s angelic voice for the first time, and seeing her on stage at Artmania Festival.

What makes you happy?