Wednesday, July 29, 2009

there is nothing to find

I wrote this as a comment in a Facebook thread that was in response to a (typically bitingly witty and insightful) article by Catherine Deveny that appeared in the Age.

Heres a link to the article:

A Christian friend of my gorgeous Fiancee wrote that he was appalled that the writer didn't understand that "finding God" could happen anywhere. This seemed to me that he missed the point of what was being said. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the matter...

I have a close friend who is a nurse, and also, like myself, an ex-evangelical Christian who has seen that the beliefs required to be so are unsustainable. The church we used to go to is very much based on the planet shakers “get everyone emotionally involved in the event and experience the holy spirit through it all” model. Lots of awesome worship. (I’m reminded of a character in the animated film, Bolt – Rhino the Hamster – Bolt’s biggest fan, who despite repeated and clear evidence to the contrary, refuses to see the little dog as anything but.. AWESOOOOOME!!!).

But I digress.

A couple of years ago, the nurses’ union in Victoria and nurses from across the state campaigned for what they deserve – better working conditions and pay that reflects the vital and tireless role they play in our medical system. At the time, my friend attended a mass union rally at festival hall. She described the event as eerily like the feeling she’d always been told in church was “the presence of God”. And the realization (bleedingly obvious when you think about it) is that the emotions can be affected by community, music, a common cause and feeling part of something that you define as significant. This feeling can be then defined as whatever the people controlling the situation wish to define it as, and people are likely to follow. I’m sure the same feelings of camaraderie and importance were felt by those attending the rallies of both worthwhile (thinking Obama’s calls – “Yes, we can”) and deranged (thinking the roars of the crowds in footage of Hitler calling for German unity in the 30s) world leaders throughout history. What it shows is that just because many people share an emotion and even a strong belief, doesn’t preclude the possibility of abject delusion.

My point is this… I think that one does not “find” god, one is lead to whatever definition and idea of a god that is in line with current emotional needs, cultural inheritance, power, guilt and fear, or the (I grant, sincere) beliefs and leadings of those with the perceived mandate to influence others however they can. There is no objective reality to find – only subjective hopes and ideas about what one will find and what it might look or feel like - and that is open to the interpretation of the seeker. I note that when people have visions of god, they tend overwhelmingly to do so within their cultural tradition. People from Christian cultures and upbringing tend to have visions of Jesus or Mary, people from Muslim cultures tend to have visions that fit within Islamic tradition, people from Animist cultures tend to have vision of animist spirit guides and so on. What you expect to find is what you will assume you have found. That does not give it any objective reality.

Whether this happens in a stadium rock worship service, a traditional church, an esoteric experience, or any of the myriad of culturally diverse manifestations of this across the world, I would argue that what a person experiences is something within the situation, and within their own needs at the time, and that in order to believe that it is a supernatural experience, that person must find the mental trick to make themselves believe what goes against the evidence of their senses.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thoughts for Outlet

Ok, any of you who are photographers, visual artists, designers with graphicy type materials... If you've heard heaps of times that people love what you do, but would like to get it "out there" into the world, why not actually take that step and publish some work. There are lots of ways to do it (and I know I'm preaching to the converted to a lot of you), but I thought I'd just mention a few of them.

Of course, it is a huge thing for any creative person to see their work on a gallery wall. While exhibiting solo can be expensive, a lot of cafe galleries (and daguerre's in chapel street is a good one for photographers - can be cheaper and expose your work to a lot of people. It works for everyone - the cafe wants art on its walls, and you don't have to staff a gallery for a couple of weeks.

Group exhibitions are also a great and not so intimidating way to exhibit. I posted a link the other day to the Brunswick Street Gallery. They have a fantastic photographic exhibition each year which acceps work from anyone - established artist or not... I'll be entering a few images this year, and entries close at the end of August, so why not join me and we can live it large at the opening in September!

Another option is one of the many online spaces for artists. If your creative endeavours are quite developed and ready for sale, Etsy ( provides a vehicle for you to find a market, deal directly with customers and control your creative business. If you are a little less cashed up to do all of your framing and production yourself, you could look at something like red bubble.

Red Bubble ( is a space where artist (photographers, graphic artists, painters, whatever) can display and sell their art. You can have a simple gallery, and make your work available in a range of formats. People order directly from Red Bubble, and they do all of the printing and production and give you a percentage of the sale (you get to designate what percentage markup you take).

Red Bubble also has a section for people to order really funky and individual t-shirts. If you have a design that you think would look great on a t-shirt, post it and then people can order from the site, specifying the style, colour and size of t-shirt they want it printed on.

I've just opened a gallery of some of my images, which you can have a look at here if you like:

And while we're on shameless self promotion, c'mon Justin Stephens - where is your self promotion?!?! You're never one to shy away! I'd love to see a link to your Red Bubble t-shirt design gallery - some of your designs are awesome.

The last one I'll mention for now is a website called Momento. There are others out there that are similar but it's one Ive used, and can be pretty creatively satisfying. If you have a bunch of images that you'd love to see printed (for a coffee table book, a folio of your work, whatever...), but don't feel that you're ready to approach publishers, or if you just want to present some of your photos of a holiday or a baby or anything really in a really beautiful format, then something like Momento might be worth looking at. It's a website that allows you access to free software that enables you to lay your images out in a book, and then you pay the company to print copies in a hard cover book.

Their website is

The areas for creative outlet I've mentioned here can be anything from a bit of fun and a satisfying artistic expression, through to the beginnings of a viable business platform for your art. The sites are also great to just look through to see the sorts of things others are doing, and be inspired by this.

I'll add links to the websites I've talked about here in the web links section of Outlet, and hope you find some fun and inspiration having a look through them.