(009) Infinite Gamers
RARE REFERENCES, reframing originality & Japan
“The world of cool pictures by Sofia Coppola, Los Angeles, 1994-1995”, issued in Japan back in 1996 by Tokyo Sphinx. Something I have been trying to track down for some time.
This is the first time in recent memory that I haven’t been able to locate a reference, mainly the graphic designer who did this work which I’m obsessed with from the bottom of my heart. Related: The Designers Republic
Reproducing the same reality
“Privacy is a necessary condition for experimentation, and for social change… If I’m dissatisfied with this world — and I think that I might be — a problem is that you can only desire based on what you know. You have certain experiences in this world, they produce certain desires, those desires reproduce the world. Our reality today just keeps reproducing itself. If you can create different experiences that manifest different desires, then it’s possible that those will lead to the production of different worlds.” — Moxie Marlinspike
From Taking Back Our Privacy with Moxie Marlinspike (October 2020)
It doesn’t seem coincidental that the people who are able to present ideas that feel genuinely novel exist further away from the internet. Some interesting reads from Moxie’s blog:
Love, want, need
Show me your references and I’ll tell you who you are
Jk but also not really. New Reader is a special interview concept and minimalist website, serving as “an online library focusing on the reads and references that shape people with unique cultural impact”.
This interview with Hassan Rahim is one of my all-time favourites as he takes us through rare references from art books in Tokyo, the power of an image and the speed of content, conveying your essence in what you create and going on “album mode”. I love this memory he shared of a permeating feeling:
“When I was 5 years old, my dad was my hero. He was an electrician at Northrop working on F16 jets, and before his injury, worked really hard to buy this car he wanted. He would drive me from Garden Grove to LAX on weekends to eat In-N-Out fries and watch the planes take off, our seats reclined all the way back, staring out the sunroof as they flew over us. It’s something I’ll remember forever, an emotion I always try to feel again.”
“Everything I do is hyper-personal. It's processed through this brain, these eyes, these ears, out of this mouth, and with these hands. It’s happening through the filter of my own lived experience; one that's very rich.
I've been through a lot of difficult, traumatic, and very hard times, but I’ve also been fortunate to have really beautiful things happen in my life. It's all seen from my lens, and my experiences are what shapes that lens. I pour my heart into my work. I have to be extremely picky with who gets to receive that. That’s not to be self-serving; I'm not aiming to put the focus on me at all times. But if I make something that doesn't look like it came from my heart, then I don't want to show it.” — Hassan Rahim
Digital Trails by Chia
Chia is a really thoughtful multidisciplinary artist I discovered a while ago. Through some arbitrary rabbit holing, I came across a collection of her micro-sites which you can explore below. I like this version of the internet, how some people leave digital trails that all connect to one another creating something bigger.
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I’ve seen a manifesto I wrote back in 2020 for my creative life doing the rounds on are.na and paraphrased in various newsletters, so I thought I’d share it here straight from the horse’s mouth. I also made one for my personal life. There are updates to be made to both since things change.
Clause 5: “Stop trying to be "original" and work with what you've got, finding an "interesting" angle or a new way to make something familiar felt”. I wrote that from a place of nonchalance because there’s an underlying sentiment in the creative industry that “everything’s already been done before”. Everything is a reference of a reference of a reference, which is true to some extent and yet —
It is a limiting belief, more of a myth that de-incentivises striving and promotes obscured plagiarism (and sometimes, people don’t even bother with that). It allows for the total stagnation of things like art direction, branding, etc. See above: “Our reality keeps on reproducing itself” — our hype design keeps on reproducing itself, our thinkboi tweets keep on reproducing themselves, our self help keeps on reproducing itself. And likely, five different Substacks you read will recommend the same list of things while curation is touted as the antidote to algorithms.
As Eli Russell Linnetz noted:
“The challenge of working today is that everyone is a curator on Instagram. There are so many people creating every day, which is cool – it’s like a renaissance, everyone can do it – but it really makes you think, ‘What’s my path? My story? What do I really believe in, in the world?”
And J.G. Ballard:
“The current vogue for the idea of curating comes from the proliferation and reproduction of ideas, processed information and images in the digital age. This contemporary resonance risks producing a kind of bubble where the word in itself loses meaning.”
Originality and accreditation has always been a messy business. Part of what appeals to me about web3 is Clause 4: “Always credit appropriately and honestly”. Maybe this is shorthand for: ego death through acknowledging ownership, remix culture and building on top of things that exist, your *lack* of “lone genius”. If you aren’t operating from a place of ego and chasing status, you have no problem being honest about or sharing your inspirations and reference points. Embrace the act of homage. Examples & related ideas:
In the Future of Fashion, Everyone Gets Paid by Greta Rainbow (2022)
The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius (contrarian ++)
What succeeds is a reflection of what people value and sometimes that can be discouraging. All over the place, the incentives are totally misaligned with living a life that I can respect. People get rewarded for doing what seems fast and easy, or gleaning opportunities by palming off others’ work as their own. I think that’s what it boils down to — why are you doing what you’re doing? What axis are you competing along? Are you creating value or are you chasing status?
If you can answer that then you have a direction. And indeed, there are plenty who succeed in their industries by questionable means. But if you do, then you’ve missed the point.
“How you do anything is how you do everything” — Martha Beck
Related: Infinite Games
Creating from a place that is in good conscience leads to more meaningful work, regardless of whether that work is considered “original”. In this sense, originality does not have to mean novelty — something never seen or done before. Originality, conversely, can be a synonym for truth. What is pure. You know it when you feel it, even if you disagree with it. And that is something I can respect.
A final irony is that if you aren’t motivated by ego to be original, you will likely produce more independent work. The thrill of genuine creativity is undeniable. It’s the same with any aspect of life that actually matters: “True optimization is just being who the fuck you are.” And you’re always the winner, cus ~real recognise real. The more you can amplify what is unique to you, the more you will attract people who genuinely resonate with you for you, and the more your work will reflect that, which in turn will attract more of the right people, and onwards until you’re living a happy life of abundance :)
Iconic Minimalist Pop
Karim Rashid is the king of Y2K, and designed the first and only piece of furniture that I own: Magino. He’s done everything from furniture to graphic explorations to packaging to DJ sets to lighting to houses and beyond — one of the truly creative minds out there. Once you explore his work, you’ll start to see his influence everywhere…
Life After Lifestyle
“I keep asking people to get more specific about the culture they’d like to see. What do you think it would be good if there was more of? What do you wish people were spending more of their time on? Instead of building a culture-agnostic platform, can you find a way to support that? To encourage that?
The further from goods and services you go, the closer you get to ideology and belief. If it’s the case that the goods and services are a means to a different end rather than the other way around, the question is: what are you leading your subscribers towards?
As founders, community leaders, and shapers of these new cultures, this is the most important question we have to ask. Because we’ve seen that we’re not only creating culture: we’re producing personality in people. In other words, we’re creating types of guys.
The realization that producing culture is about producing types of personhood is the central issue of this new cultural economy. Systems of belief are sticky, compelling. Culture can be generational. This is both the opportunity and the risk.”
This essay is tagged under post-authenticity. More on related topics:
Mass Authentic by Rob Horning (2016) — really recommend this one
”Self is not a matter of expression but of circulation”
The Prison of Authenticity (are.na channel)
Pirelli Calendar 1970
Something about these images for the Pirelli Calendar in 1970 by Francis Giacobetti got me reminiscing on Rio de Janeiro, eternal summer and indeed, things that were made to last. These pictures still feel contemporary and relevant even though they were photographed over *50* years ago. Pretty wild.
Pyramid Scheme, but not the kind you’re thinking of
Thinking of someone? Forward this.