Posts Tagged ‘Letters of Note’

“We are enslaved to our smart devices, computers, and social networking sites as much, if not more, than by a distant king.”

– Shawn Huckins, artist.

“What does ROFL mean?”

-Danielle Grant, author of this blog post. Social media foreigner.

There’s a new blog on the scene called Letters of Note. Perhaps your twitter feed has been directing you there as of late? If so, then like me, you’ve spent some time pouring over clever, romantic, tragic, hilarious, and compelling correspondence from our shared cultural history. These missives provoke in me the following demands. Was everyone born before 1932 a professional writer and communicator? (!) Why was everything so eloquent? (!) What’s happened to our collective command of the English language? (!) Discussing this matter over dinner last week, I posed the inevitable question to my eating companion: is language de-volving instead of evolving? Bracing myself for the typical 2012 apocalyptic answer, I was pleasantly surprised when he said that when a language is born, it’s usually filled with rules and organizing principles that slowly fade and disappear as users realize that shortcuts can be made, and hence words get combined, apostrophes replace letters, etc. The argument here is that language becomes more and more efficient over time. That’s somewhat comforting, right? But do we sacrifice precision for efficiency?

That night, I came home to discover the work of Shawn Huckins in my inbox. Huckin’s work isn’t necessarily a direct answer to my concerns. In fact, what he has to say about his work is political in nature (refer to quote above) and is more about the way in which the actual communication devices we employ–smart phones and computers–often limit our ability for communication instead of expand it, as it promises to do. But what I love here is the way that Huckin’s translates these 18th c. American paintings into our own modern language. And this might be presumptuous, but his translations feel kind of . . . accurate! There is a slap in the face quality as well as a slap-stick element to these images. Can a beautifully rendered portrait or genre-scene painting really be reduced to our current slap-dash/on-the-go communication standards? No! A picture is worth 1,000 words, not 140 letters! Huckin’s postulates that we are enslaved by our communication devices. After looking at his work, I just feel that our technical devices make us a little more ridiculous and a little less well-written than our forefathers. And I think it’s important to make fun of everything, most of all, ourselves. At lease while we still have the vocabulary to do it.

Shawn Huckins will be showing his work later this year at Gildar Gallery in Denver, L2kontemporary in Los Angeles and Cain Schulte in San Francisco. Check his website for dates.



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