Jordan Wayne Lee
Award Winning Design for Digital Brands
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Re: Metamodernism

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*excerpt from an email

I’ve been drawn to the idea of metamodernism because of my past. I grew up playing music then went to school and discovered art/design. During that time I explored Biblical Theology and it raised a lot of questions around my own faith. The post-modern idea of Christianity still left a lot of questions for me where I abandoned it completely to explore other areas of religion and art. Nature has been a powerful force for me. I’ve visited Buddhist Temples in Thailand, read a lot of books about existentialism and explored the works of the early church as well. Still, I’ve been drawn back to nature, art and design as a means of exploring the inner workings of myself but somehow trying to define what that means.

Metamodernism is the closest I can come with my personal work, internal feelings about many things and so it was a natural way for me to understand and explore in the metmodern vein. I think I’ve always tried to create a certain tension (even in my postmodern days) where irony and sincerity can exist. I’m still exploring this today and defining it through metamodernism has been great. My daily exercise has been a meditative process of creating pieces the past few months and I’ve been writing different ideas and thoughts about the process. Hoping to put it all together from an artist/creative perspective once I feel I’ve exhausted my emotions through it all. It’s quite enjoyable to explore from this perspective and has been refreshing to find people like yourself who are exploring this from different angles.

Another thing I want to explore deeper is my experience as a designer for large brands and companies. Making work that is intangible in the digital sense and disappears into the ether after time. That type of work, combined with the creative process, is a very emotionless yet emotion filled piece. Digital creative’s exist in a space where we knowingly make work that will disappear, yet pour our heart and soul into the process over and over again. It’s a part of the current creative condition that I’d also like to take a deeper look into within myself. Partially why I decided to abandon working for these bigger brands. I felt empty.

Lastly, I was diagnosed with a hereditary immune deficiency at birth (Agammaglobulinemia). My body doesnt make white blood cells. So I’ve been saving all of my syringes and needles and IV equipment and using that to create large abstract canvas paintings. I’m still working through ideas and taking it another step with creating subject matter in my work around life and death. The idea of creating art from things that keep me alive to then make work that encompasses life and death to me is very interesting, uncomfortable and liberating. Exploring that oscillation emotionally has been something I am working on this past year. I have completed 4 large pieces and now I’m working to make other types of pieces through this process.

I’m of the notion that metamodernism can help me to discover my own truths through art. The tension of it all. And somehow the existence between the polarities reveals a personal truth for me in my work.

To me, it’s almost a sacred thing to explore that in no way would I equate memes to such a powerful sense of discovery. I’m with you on that for sure. And yes, I am aware of the democratic movements you are speaking of. I am not sure if metamodernism is a movement meant to have political ideology tied to it, or if out of our own understandings of what metamodernism means, then political changes might occur – but to use it as a vehicle for political change? I don’t agree. I think there is undiscovered truths with metamodernism that could be used to better understand political structures and the meaning of it all.

I think, for me, I am still discovering metamodernism within myself and my work. It’s a very interesting thing. It’s definitely a feeling more than anything. And when I make new works, I hope that feeling creates some ease and tension for others who view it. So, my sense of what metamodernism is to me is limited by the fact that I am trying to embrace that feeling of polarity and make some sort of sense of it in whatever comes out. Without exploring it deeply, I think it can be hard to articulate what it actually is. I hope that makes sense? For me, I am still trying to embrace and explore these feelings I’ve had from growing up in the postmodern grunge-ridden music scene of Seattle combined with my questioning of faith mixed with the confusion of my hereditary disease and fighting to stay alive. To me, metamodernism has been a sense of relief to somehow start to define those feelings and make sense of it and somehow put it to more use and hopefully inspire others.

Hunting: I grew up in a house where my mother was vegan and father ate meat. I totally understand and respect the choice to not eat meat. I’ve even tried a few times to be strictly vegan. In fact, if I am not eating meat that I fished or hunted myself, I am mostly vegetarian. In todays society, with the animal agriculture industry – I find that I cannot support it. I also know that we are lucky enough to live in a world where the struggle for survival and food is as close as the nearest grocery store. But for me, if I’m going to eat meat – I want to fully understand the entire process that our ancestors went through to get society to this point. There is almost a spiritual aspect to it about being connected with the full cycle of life and death and nature. I could talk for hours about it, the process, conservation, wildlife, habitats, etc. It’s a choice I made for myself in my early twenties. I have the best conversations with my vegan friends about it and I think it comes from a very thoughtful place – on both sides. I admire vegans and vegetarians very much.

I’m still in the fog with it and trying to use it to make sense of my own creativity and (somewhat) documenting the journey.. but even I don’t think I have all the answers myself or fully understand it really. But maybe thats part of the journey. The doubt and certainty. All of it at once.

No other time in history have we been able to witness and see such a fast moving thing within culture. If you look back at other movements, they took years and years to develop, become accepted and then some people came along and pushed the boundaries to move into the next phase. And here we are. With the ability to recognize all of that, see where we have been, question where we are going and say “well, what now?” It’s powerful. Even the idea that we could exchange these thoughts, having never officially met, and explore things within ourselves and share them with each other. Powerful.

My best,
Jordan