What would you do, if suddenly all the information on the internet disappeared? All servers and the ability to access information stored on the internet just… vanished? Burned up? I want to share an article about an event that although not similar in scale, was a huge loss to humanity, the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
The library itself, as the article states, had over 100 scholar actively living there and working on transcribing scrolls and knowledge found all over the Mediterranean world. And at a point it time… it vanished. The article goes on to talk about who to blame in the burning of the library, a subject which I am not going into.
However, this did prompt me to think about how knowledge today can just as easily disappear. Not with a physical fire, but a digital one. So much correspondents, data, articles and the such exist primarily on internet servers, something fragile at best. What would happened to a world in which all the knowledge we have uploaded also was to disappear? Or how different would our current reality be if the library and all the thousands of scrolls of information survived to today?
The Brooklyn Art Library, “a free museum where you can touch the art,” regularly offers a really cool opportunity, called the Sketchbook Project.
On a whim, I decided to participate in vol. 14. The process goes like this: purchase a sketchbook (a modest 5″x7″, my favorite size), and choose whether you would like your sketchbook to be included in the digital library (of course, yes, please). Receive your adorable, simple, blank sketchbook in the mail. Do something. Send it back by the deadline.
You can send your sketchbook back later than the deadline (vol. 14 needed to be postmarked by March 30th), but collections of the latest volume usually go on tour somewhere before arriving at their forever home in Brooklyn. Late arrivals will still be accepted at the Library, but will miss out on the tour portion of the project. Selections from the vol. 14 collection are going to cities around the U.S., including Brooklyn (of course), Boston, Providence, St. Petersburg, Washington D.C., Richmond, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Part of my motivation for participating in this project was marketing. I’m trying to pursue several blogs and other ideas, and I thought this would be a really interesting way to (potentially) draw some attention to those prospects.
But it ended up being something very different.
It became more a form of therapy than anything. When I opened it, I was faced with blank pages, and the fear of messing up, of people seeing the opposite of what I wanted. I was afraid that my ideas weren’t interesting enough, or that my art wouldn’t be good enough. I was afraid that I was going to end up wasting my time and embarrassing myself.
I didn’t know how to start, but I had to do something with this book while I had it. So I did what I’ve been doing pretty much nonstop for the last four years: I started writing. Now, I hadn’t actually written consistently by hand for a long time. It had been even longer since I had written words in pencil–something smudgy and impermanent and so forgiving. I wrote before I went to sleep, random thoughts floating around in my tired brain.
The first page was unfortunate. It was clogged with anxiety and insecurities. But, as I went along, the pages became more optimistic, more reflective, more abstract. I added color, changed up the style and direction of the text. I sketched.
And then something amazing happened.
“Through the Mists” throws my and my partner’s old live-action role play characters into alternate universes, for new and exciting adventures.
“York” and “Talitha” in a Supernatural-esque world (with his dog, and a snazzy 1962 Ford Falcon station wagon).
Concept/cover art for a “Monster of the Week” style RPG and potential episodic podcast, now titled “What Lies Beyond”.
I completed the first full, inked composition I had done, probably since 2012 (seven years ago!) when I was at the Perpich Arts High School. I wasn’t entirely sure that I still had the know-how–but then it worked. I created another, and another.
I posted pictures of my work to a group on Facebook and got the very unambiguous reply: “do more of this.”
I want to.
Through the process of letting go and allowing myself the time and space to just doart, I rediscovered some of the self-confidence I had lost, and improved my immediate outlook on life. It was a little sad to part with the sketchbook, but I’m excited to see it again in the digital library, and for people to look at it and touch it and think about it in-person, across the country.
Toward the end of the time I had left to work on it, I traced my hand on an open page. I hope that many more people will place their hands in that outline. Maybe the page will yellow with their fingerprints.
I may have to go to New York someday to find out.
If you want to explore your own process, and share something of yourself with the world, vol. 15 is now available. 🙂