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Metamodernism through an artist lens

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Many great thinkers of today are proclaiming, publicly, that the end of post-modernism is here. The cynical worldview submerged in irony doesnt work for us anymore. We can’t progress. Throwing a wrench into the machine and raging against it worked for awhile to shine a light on the inconsistencies, the brokenness, the inequality and the desire for a better world that has been cloaked in a surface of “feel good” attitude.

Modernism was a movement that embraced hope. Older generations had it good. Moving forward through life without a hitch. Economically, politically, religiously and socially. Things were fine. Coming out of the depression, modernism moved us forward and made us fat and happy. Yet, there was still an emptiness surging beneath the surface. Those who took enough courage to shine a light on this were seen as outcasts, rebels, troublemakers. Yet, those are the same prolific minds who brought us into post-modernism.

Angst, recognizing the broken systems, the surface of hope only went skin deep. A generation still left hungry for purpose and meaning. Post modernism comes along and throws a giant wrench into everything we had been doing. The evolution of technology though TV, radio, and the birth of the internet brought new ideas to the forefront. The sincerity within post-modernism was beginning to shift. Now, over time, the acceptance of this angst driven cynical outlook was seen as ironic against the modernist movement. We moved on.

So here we are. We’ve lived with these notions for quite some time. Yet, it hasn’t served us very well. The masses are filled to the brim of post-modernism. What was once seen as underground, fringe, edge-case ideas in art, culture, fashion, music and entertainment has become the norm. Normal is weird. Normal is being an individual on the broad spectrum. But, our individuality and identifying with these things on the surface has still left us empty and broken.

There is discussion about post-modernism being dead. Listen to some of the greatest minds and thinkers of today and they all agree that we are at the end of this post-modern outlook. But they have yet to define what’s next.

We exist in metamodernism.

There is a polarity driving us and our own existence. It becomes confusing. It pushes and pulls within. Yet, for so long, I haven’t been able to make sense of it. I grew up as an angst driven teen in the Seattle area. Skateboarding, playing rock and roll, embracing the idea of post-modernism in my world of teenage politics, art, music, fashion, etc. It made sense at the time. The masses of the world were boring. Hopeful notions still left to question the meaning of it all. The meaning of everything meant nothing. And the nothingness was filled with ideas.

The continued movement served to question ideas and notions that were brought through the modernist movements. Yet, the questioning of everything still left me empty with no answers. Unfulfilled.

Until recently, I had been unable to understand or define the things I have seen or experienced for my life. This was it? I either choose hope and go blindly into my existence pretending it was all wonderful – or – I choose the cynical path of post-modernism and hope it works out for me in the end. It made no sense. Sincerity or irony. Pick a side.

But there is oscillation within our existence today.

Back and forth.

You can find meaning in the meaningless. You can experience hope and disconnect simultaneously. We are faced with global problems, economic upturns and downturns, the ability to communicate with everyone in the world – yet we still feel lonely. We are technologically advanced more than any other time, yet we long for the quite simplicity. We struggle with the humanity within ourselves and stay concerned with humanity as a whole even though ideas of fixing global problems or saving the world seems like a hopeless idea. Hope is hopeless. Irony breeds a spark of truth.

Back and forth.

So I find myself trying to define these things for so long. Making work that is digital, only to be taken down and forever forgotten within a moments notice. Yet, the expectation to pour my heart into all of my work determines my paycheck.

Nothing matters. Everything matters.

I’ve been exploring these notions within my work for awhile. Combing the hope and emptiness. The oscillation between life and death. The simultaneous polarity that we experience on every level in our lives today. Local. Global. Love. Loss. Life. Death. Connected. Isolation. We experience these things at rapid speed and the messaging is forcing us to discover the truth. Somewhere.

Truth exists.

The truth is found in the feelings between the oscillations.

Recognizing what is happening. I find that the truth of it all exists between the swinging pendulum of emotions. The oscillations we face everyday force us into a stalemate. We become paralyzed. Yet, this is where I believe truth exists. That deep feeling of inner peace. That notion that despite this external chaos, there is hope within.

Internal. External.

Embracing the feeling of discomfort brings peace. Recognizing that external peace can only be had once we find it within ourselves. Exploring all parts of life will bring this.

Fear within. Courage without.

My work is an ongoing exploration of how I operate within the world.

The simultaneous polarity explores emotions and tensions. These feelings are where truth resides. Combing these within the work itself, how the work was made or the intention behind the work is how I am moving forward with metamodernism.

It’s something I have felt for a very long time.

Even during my corporate days. I thought happiness resided by having the dream job that the world told me would be fulfilling. It wasn’t.

Fulfillment comes from embracing the landscape of our world today, recognizing those deeper pieces and forging ahead to acknowledge all of it.

Darkness and beauty. Hope and dispair. Life and death. The feeling of these depicted simultaneously. Understanding this approach. Acknowledging the power in the existence of these within my work. These are the things that shape our worldview, our values, our purpose and our meaning for life.

Some may say life is meaningless. Some may place meaning in things outside themselves. Both of those approaches don’t serve us anymore. Meaning is applied through our values, beliefs and the language we attach to everything. Meaning translates differently across cultures for centuries. But as we become more connected, exchange ideas, and share thoughts around our systematic place in society – we begin to look at humanity differently.

The quiet human emotions within ourselves. Humanity as a global notion.

Metamodernism is a way to define an approach of looking deep within the self to make sense of the world. A way to look through a lens that has yet to be explored by the masses. The oscillation of peace/anger within, combined with the chaos/order externally.

My work is a focus on these feelings. That can translate to creating things that make a statement of our existence. The old notions of modernism and post-modernism are old and tired. We are still hungry and still hopeless.

Art and design is my visual outlet.

Creating visual ideas to spark emotions of beauty and comfort combined with tension and uneasy feelings. Somewhere, the viewer will have to reconcile with themselves those feelings. That is where truth resides. That is where meaning and purpose exist. Because this is where our beliefs and values become challenged. This is where hope and chaos find a way to confront each other. The battle within is to discover truth and purpose within our own existence.

This notion is translated across so many areas of my life. To look through life with this lens brings clarity. It brings comfort and hope within knowing that the oscillation brings truth.

Exploring these thoughts is discomforting but brings clarity.

I will not explore metamodernism through an academic approach. Instead, I seek to find metamodernism through a lens of living it. Breathing it. Embracing it within and exploring it through my work. This is the new purpose. This is how we move forward. The tired systems of consumerism, marketed bullshit, empty promises and insincerity has left us in the ruins of hanging by a societal thread. Look around. Globally, politically, economically, religiously, artistically – we are empty and unfulfilled. We keep lying to ourselves. We keep saying “maybe it will get better”. We hold onto hope yet the future doesnt seem to look so bright. This notion has been embedded within our societal DNA and we bounce back and forth hoping to discover some sort of truth within it all. We are either met with some form of internal discover and answers, or we spend our entire lives searching for something we never find only to cease existence before discovery. Some of us blindly waltz through life holding onto easy beliefs that leave us in a trance of ignorance.

Metamodernism is the awakening.

Within myself.

I will forge ahead the way have been for the past decade.

Except, now, I know how to define it.