Thursday, May 19, 2016

Are You Sure You Want To Delete All Files?

Poems are spoken, heard, felt, perhaps forgotten. Or in some instances, the words find their way onto a page that yellows, becomes brittle, and decays. You may spend three sleepless nights stringing 800 carnations for a one night event. Plays take shape for a few nights on a stage, and then the set is torn down, the props and flats packed up to build some other reality later.  The dialogue and nature of the character lives on in the actor only as long as the next role they play.

Performance is constantly changing as it is being created, and even as it has its run. It is fleeting. Miss it, and well, you've missed it. Entirely. There's no file recovery for missing the opportunity to see your friend Nick perform with his band because you opted to sit on the sofa and eat Oreos instead.

Yesterday a student in one of our classes lost all of her work. We've written self-portrait poems, and for the past week or so have created animations of the lines using iStopMotion on iPads. She deleted, accidentally, or possibly on purpose, all of the animation she created. Tears welled up with the realization that all of her work was gone. She left the room, collected her courage somewhere in the hallway, and returned to redraw. She learned one of the hard lessons of creating. Hearing "It will all be alright," or "I appreciate that you've gotten back to work," doesn't really help when you're mourning a loss. You're alone with empty hands. We'll discuss what happens when you lose all your work in class on Tuesday when some time has passed.

We've experienced all sorts of "All of my files are gone!" in this residency as well. The iPads have a function engaged on them that allows the user to delete files by shaking the device as you might shake an Etch-a-Sketch. It first prompts the user with "Are you sure you want to delete all files?" but short attention spans, or a desire to have a virtual dog gobble it all up, often ends in a click of the "yes." Then regret. Or delight, depending. Some people like starting from scratch. Others think deleting it all will be an excuse to get out of rewriting. That's a whole other lesson.

When the cat pees on your painting (this happened to me once - a critic!), or you break a bit of pottery, or even burn up your origami, you have pieces and parts (or ash) to work from, but when you work digitally, what is left? File recovery, if you're lucky.

All creation is ephemeral. Whatever you make will be gone through decay, erosion, explosions, deletion, including you and your beloved patterns, someday. Hit save all you want, you're on your way out. For now, go out in the hallway to find your courage to come back. Do something, anything, to add rather than subtract before you go.

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