The Medium Distorts the Message

The weekend is here, so it must be time for another post to Adventures in Play. My dwindling site stats are prodding me to write something before my website completely flatlines, but then there is a certain freedom that comes with knowing only a handful of people will ever read my blogs.
In a way my blog is like writing in a personal journal that I intensionally leave out on a sidewalk or subway station for a passerby to discover. Most people either never see it, or just ignore it as they click to their usual Internet haunts. Occasionally, probably by chance, someone stops to give my writings a passing glance, but what they think of it I have no idea. This in itself is an experiment. I often wonder what has drawn a person to my website? Was it a poorly constructed Google search, or were they looking for something more adventurous and informative, or less whimsical or rhetorical? Given how I use Google, I can empathize with the impatient seeker who lands on my page and viscerally clicks away sensing the material lies well beyond their intended search criteria.

At times I question the need for a blog when I could post something on Twitter or Facebook, but after some reflection I know it wouldn’t be the same. The medium matters. I learned that years ago when digital art was still a new medium. Back then I read about artists who had gone digital, replacing their traditional brushes and paints for a digital art studio. They touted the virtues of creating art totally on a computer, a streamlined workflow where there is no need to waste time scanning work or using messy paints and expensive art supplies. A world where one can easily create and destroy with little apparent consequence. So, when I sat down in front of a computer monitor with my fancy Wacom pen in hand, I  wondered why I froze up creatively. At first I thought I was lazy or not focused enough, but after a while it dawned on me that something was getting in the way. For me, creating art from scratch on a computer was like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time. I wondered why things didn’t just flow, but why should it? I was sitting in a task chair in a dimly-lit, windowless room where I stared expectedly at a bright, blue-whitish monitor for inspiration and creative ideas.  Using a Wacom tablet, I had to get acclimated to a drawing experience where my hand and eye passed through a digital controller. Instead of drawing directly to paper, I needed to draw in one place while looking at the screen, and all the while thinking this was an evolution over pen and paper. However, the experience was entirely different and for me, not better at least not from a starting point. What I learned was I didn’t need high tech tools or software to create something, just imagination and practice. It’s an easy trap to fall into, the alluring idea that the right tool will take you to that next level, but of course you can’t shortcut the process. I am sure many artists can create amazing art directly on a computer, but I believe the path taken to create something, changes it in the process. The more translation between you and the medium means more distortion to the creative message. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of it. Perhaps that is why you often see artists going “retro” to tap back into a medium that speaks to their creative energy. I understand that.


So, if I were to use Twitter to convey the ideas in this post, I would need to somehow condense my meandering thoughts into a series of concise 140 character tweets, a process of reduction that would no doubt distort and mutate my message. This blog post might read something like, “The medium distorts the message #AdventuresInPlay”. Hmmm… not exactly everything I wanted to say, but seems a fitting title for my post. 😉

2 thoughts on “The Medium Distorts the Message

  1. peady

    I really like this post. It is true. Things become muddied in the medium, sometimes. I am glad you write it all out anyway, tbh. I always like what you write.


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