Tuesday, March 19, 2013


We've been in the news!
I guess spring is in the air because spring cleaning seems to come to mind in somewhat unorthodox forms! People with pagan belief systems would say that it's all in tune with spring equinox. I believe that de-cluttering one's physical space is necessary at regular intervals. This also goes for the computer and the internet. A thousand e-mails have been deleted, newsletters have been unubscribed to, personal photo albums have been deleted off the internet, several internet accounts have been closed down, and on it goes. One must re-centre, re-focus and re-prioritise. The internet is a kind of ghost land, and maintaining a presence there most certainly requires energy. Equally, I can sense people's presence, but I can't see their physical shape... so it's like moving in a haunted house with a lot of ghostly presence. Don't get me wrong, I am all for technological advancement. But there are obvious pitfalls in the form of the amount of time and energy it requires from you, and the way the illusory aspects of virtual reality mess with your head.

Although good things occur, I have also found that social media and forums consistently create stress and unwanted emotional ups and downs in myself. So the advantages of keeping in touch with some people and sharing aspects of my life that I want to share with others have to be weighed against the disadvantages. Martin and I have talked about it long and hard and come to the simple conclusion that the internet isn't serving us well enough to warrant all the energy we're putting into it; there is on top of everything that feeling that one should do more, and more and more... and it really is endless, and never enough. We also feel that social media is not all it's cracked up to be. One reason may be that novelty value is wearing off. We feel that people are maybe getting jaded and aren't quite so interested in responding to other people online... the responses are so inconsistent and random, and quite few and far between, that it's starting to look futile. No one likes being bombarded with so much stuff all the time... While internet developers are working on making the internet easier to use, there are more and more adverts and more general noise. This is possibly a time of great transitions, but at the moment it's really all quite strenuous and not very user friendly. Learning new technology all the time (for instance, just setting up a simple account somewhere) is very time/energy consuming too, so it's worth thinking about which bits one feels a real need to learn. Perhaps one could talk about de-scattering one's brain!

While social media gurus abound, it seems to us that there's a lot of hype but very little real substance to the claims that the social media can help you reach people's consciousness. We are fully aware that it may still work for some people who have certain advantages, for instance youth, glamour and the ability to engage with people in real life through performance. Having a really cool gadget to develop is also something that wakes people up. Through our current project and fundraising campaign we have found out quite a lot about the way it really works, or doesn't work. While some truths are painful, I feel that my own online presence has served several purposes and it has certainly not all been in vain. However, it may be time to refocus and rethink one's attitudes and strategies. Trumpeteering one's truth into the void when no one is listening is certainly pointless, and it scatters the mind. I don't intend to abandon the internet altogether, but I'm going to make my presence more restricted and focused. Feeling too dependent on the internet for solutions to one's own life issues and feeling too desperate to be heard is a bit like entertaining a co-dependent romantic relationship (in real life, of course), and it's not healthy.

It's too soon to say just what our crowdfunding campaign has taught us, as it's running for another three weeks. Real media such as newspapers and Finnish TV have shown a lot of interest, but for many lay people out there it's still a bit hard to grasp the concept. My own dad said he hoped we weren't embarrassing ourselves by begging for money from our friends. He may be excused due to his age. Of course, most people understand that it's not about that at all. It's about showing support, which you can do either by sharing the idea with your own friends, or by donating a sum of your choice. My own achilles's heel is that I wish that people were loyal and supportive in ways that most people aren't able to be. On the other hand, some people feel they want to support by giving unsolicited advice, and that's something I'm not happy about at all as it often takes the form of a patronising attitude. But dealing with my own reactions and rethinking relationships is all part and parcel of my own process of "growing up" and finding the steps I have to take in order to minimise exposure to stress in my own life. "Letting go" is that one thing that keeps creeping up in my mind... 

So what happens to us middle-aged artists? Well, if one direction isn't fruitful then another one will surely appear if one keeps an open mind. It's tempting to abandon art as another pointless exercise - if it tends to be a one way communication and you feel that your whole existence depends on whether you reach other people or not, then it's not healthy. Of course, giving up is always an option if you're truly better off doing something else. But - my feeling is that Martin really wants to make art (he just needs to spend more time doing it in the real world) and that as he's evolving as an artist, he should by no means give up at this point. We are really, really struggling with the finances but on the other hand there aren't any other jobs available for him in this region either. As for myself, well I have to find ways of minimizing the impact of stress in my own life. My health is a priority. I could imagine doing lots of different arty things that demand time and energy if my reality was not restricted by health issues, but as it is, I have to live with them and organise my life around them. In discussions with Martin I have started to see some new ideas emerge about the role of art, and how some of my work fits in with these ideas... We'll just have to see where it takes me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


"The Blessing", handmade collage by Vivi-Mari Carpelan, copyright 2008

Is art important to everyone, and is there a truly positive attitude towards art within the framework of society? I've been giving some though to some of the prevailing attitudes towards art and creativity in general in modern society.

Firstly, there certainly is a lot of art around! In fact, we're truly saturated with images in modern society. The fact that any images we may want are so readily available, and that we're also bombarded with images that aren't significant to us personally, surely has a negative effect on people's perception of the value of images. Secondly, as people have been made redundant or find themselves out of a job for other reasons, or even on disability allowance, suffering the consequences of the recession and the fast pace of modern living, they often turn to arts and crafts. Authorities usually care very little if people make art while they are living off benefits, as it's generally speaking not regarded as work. There may be the illusion that we have freedom to do what we want because basic needs are met, but does it help if the attitudes within society aren't supportive of creative freedom and nobody wants what you do? Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there is such a great flux of creativity within modern society but not a truly deep and overarching appreciation of it.

I would say that neither creativity nor art is being held in great regard because it's usually not supporting the economy in any significant way. In fact many in the higher ranks of society consider it a unnecessary evil that sucks money. I'm not an economist but it's pretty obvious to a lay person like myself that there is a deep seated attitude within society today that pure labour that creates goods that in turn are easy to sell is still more valuable than anything else. Perhaps the future will see a different attitude, where robots have taken over all the labour and people are being given the blessing to be creative in any way they want. I myself have experienced the kind of pressure authorities put on their citizens in order to force them to perform like marionettes in a predetermined reality show. Unless you have independent means of some kind, you will be subjected to pressure. If society gives you anything, you must give back what society wants from you. And it's probably not going to be a work of art.

We often tend to forget that society consists of real people. Some of them are career minded go getters and others are numb clerks who only work nine-to-five because they don't see any other option. What we can safely assume is that most of them were not encouraged to be creative while they were at school. As long as the school system promotes logic and productivity over intuition and inspiration, attitudes aren't going to change. If the foundation of society isn't supportive of the "deviant personality", then art is not going to be considered a necessity. It's quite obvious that the artists who thrive are the ones who are also go getters and have an entrepreneurial mind (for instance Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst). They make millions because they have the talent to make money, not necessarily because they are artists. The rest of us are paddling against the stream.

When Martin started to work out the details for our artistic enterprise "Wow! Look what I got!", we naturally discussed the possibilty of selling the idea to the general public that anyone can become an art collector. Do people want to be art collectors for very little money? Do people prefer to sustain the myth of art as a luxury product that only the rich can afford? Or do people simply not care about art at all? By asking people to share our project with their friends, we were in fact encouraging them to make a statement, to have a standpoint... While we need money in order to make it all happen, and the fundraising campaing is crucial to the business idea, we still feel that checking out the attitudes towards art is our main objective. Obviously, we can't start a business without a state-of-the-art printing press, which we hoped that in these dire times, we could acquire through the support of many, many members of the public. There are deeper questions at stake. What we really want to know is whether the art that we make actually makes a difference, and what manner of consumption we should expect from the audience. Does the general public want our art in the first place? Is it in any way meaningful to them? Is it at least meaningful to some of them? Is it meaningful as a body of work, or are only single pieces meaningful? And finally, are potential friends of our art willing to commit to paying subscriptions in order to get a print every month? 

We knew that market research is of the essence when you're building up a business, but we didn't have the resources for that. Instead the market research has been built into the project. The crucial bit is whether people feel interested and impressed enough to share the idea with their friends. It's a gamble, but we felt that this idea just had to be tried and tested. If we didn't try this then we'd never know whether an alternative to the typical way of selling art through galleries was an option at all. The campaign is still running so there is still time for reactions from the general public. 

We feel that there may be a lot of creativity about, but I feel that it doesn't necessarily involve many deeper, philosophical musings about the nature of art and life. Why would that be? Well, most people's basic necessities in life may well be met (cf. Maslow's hierarchy of needs), but most people are still struggling to survive. Survival may be a relative terms so for some people it means managing on £ 1200 a year while for other it's £ 40 000... Sums are not of any importance in this respect. What matters is the sense of struggle, the sense of not having enough time or energy for the deeper layers in life. People generally speaking live with a sense of dissatisfaction with life's basic set up, are jaded, and will possibly be paying for a Sky TV subscription each month rather than for any kind of artistic product, let alone a subscription for art. I would love to be proved wrong!

In fact, I would suggest that people are fleeing the deeper questions in life, whether they be religious/spiritual, moral or artistic. From this point of view, it's not about the money, i.e. it doesn't really matter what art costs. In this kind of setting, art is definitely a luxury product that people only pay for because it raises their status within a particular peer group, or because their inner longing for something more soulful becomes strong enough to put them on course for an exhibition of some kind. I would like to think that the soul's yearning will gradually override a lot of the kind of "noise" we are subjected to in today's world... I would like to think that there are already a lot of people out there who feel this yearning and who realise that hanging on Facebook all day or watching X Factor or Eastenders every day is not satisfying a hunger that stems from deep within a human being, on the level of what I would call essential humanity. I like to believe that there are infinite dimensions within us all that call out from the deep, with persistance and pure passion for that which sustains human life through art, culture and other expressions of creativity. This is where art comes from, and also where it goes to. 

Friday, March 1, 2013


Hooray, our new artistic enterprise is now LIVE!!! Please watch the promo video above, it's a great and amusing little video Martin has created, with the possible exception of my silly face in it! It will tell you all about what we're trying to do, and how we hope to fund this venture so we can get started. If all goes well, you and anyone else out there in the world will be able to subscribe to our art for very little money... there's also more information on the crowd-funding website where we've just launched the campaign. It's a fun page which also tells you all about the perks you get if you donate us a bit of money... I know I'm biased but I do think Martin's done a great job at all of this and deserves to be noticed - on top of everything, it's a lot of fun! We have a strong ethos, which is that art should be available for all, and at prices people can normally afford... and we are also committed to fair play and no BS!!

Here's a link direct to the indiegogo.com crowd-funding site for our new project, along with a personal plea to our friends, family, acquaintances colleagues and EVERYONE OUT THERE who loves art - we HAVE to raise our first funds within 2 days to even appear on the indiegogo website campaign browser so people can actually find us, so to all our supporters, please visit the campaign page and make a contribution - the minimum is just $1, (about 70p), so it's not going to break the bank! Also the more visits we get, AND the more comments, the higher the campaign's rating is, and the more it is likely to be featured on the site. 


You can now browse our website, and have a look at what you could get if we manage to raise the money we need to start up this business! Here's some more information too...

From our newsletter:

Do you love art ?
Think it's too costly ?
We can fix that
... and you can help

What are we doing ?

Martin Herbert & Vivi-Mari Carpelan are today launching their new creative enterprise. We're setting up a new way of buying art at a price which everyone can afford - less than the cost of a newspaper, magazine or satellite TV subscription.  To find out more, watch the video by clicking here or below.

Watch the Video
no ratings yet41 views

How are we doing it ?

We´re starting our venture to create a new way of appreciating art using crowd-funding. Crowd-funding is an exciting and innovative new system where instead of us begging banks and business backers for big loans and grants to get started, we ask thousands of people for just a few pounds each. (The minimum contribution is just $1 (70p) !). Our campaign is on the crowd-funding website indiegogo.com, where you can read all about the project  in full, what we are asking you to do, what you get from us in return, and so on.

How can you help ?

In two ways, but ... first a heartfelt plea - we HAVE to raise our first funds within 2 days to even appear on the indiegogo website campaign browser so people can actually find us, so to all our supporters, please visit the campaign page and make a contribution - the minimum is just $1, (about 70p), so it's not going to break the bank!  Also the more visits we get, and the more comments, the higher the campaign's rating is, and the more it is likely to be featured on the site.  Now read on ... and thanks!
  1. Contribute
    Obviously we'd love you to go and read about it & watch the video by clicking here, and contribute a small amount to the project. In return you can get trial issues of our artwork, with extra pieces FREE!  The sooner you contribute the more choice of perks there will be.  The first 50 contributors will be put in a prize draw to win an original dragon drawingby Martin worth £150.
    (Note: By contributing to the project you are not committing yourself to any subscription or membership. You will not be re-billed. Later on we'll ask nicely whether you'd like to take out a regular subscription.)
  2. Share
    Crowd-funding will only work if thousands of people go to view the project page onindiegogo,com. That will only happen if people like you tell others about it. Please click here to open a form in your web-browser which you can use to forward this bulletin.Please send it to your friends, colleagues and professional networks and ask them to forward it in turn.

    If you have a mailing list to send to, you could copy and paste this link into an email (all on one line, with no spaces!). It will link to our campaign archive:

    There are lots of other buttons for sharing just below here - please use them to share onevery social media site where you have an account:


If you´re a journalist, broadcaster or blogger, please consider featuring our project - a new and exciting way of presenting art.  You can contact us at the address below and via phone or email (see the website for contact details) for further information or interviews!
Find out more!

Click on the links below to take a look at:

indiegogo.com/wowlookwhatigot - the crowd-funding page where you can contribute to the project.

wowlookwhatigot.com - the main website where you can find out much more about the project, including more about us, about the idea, and a gallery of sample artwork.

wowlookwhatigot.blogspot.co.uk - the project blog, with loads of information about the whole idea, crowd funding, video making, blogging and much more - how we set up this whole thing!

There will be regular updates on our progress throughout the campaign - we hope you enjoy hearing all about it! You never know, maybe it will inspire you to set up your own project!

Until next time,
Martin & Vivi-Mari