“All these photographs and videos are our way of trying to see the world. We feel compelled to make images of it and share them with others as a key part of our effort to understand the changing world around us and our place within it.” (Mirzoeff 6)
To me, this statement indicates deterioration in human interaction, which is simultaneous with our technological advancements as a race. It forces one to question why should we share images with one another as a means to communicate the world we live in, when we can go out and actually live in it.
“Sure enough, people worldwide are actively trying to change the systems that represent us in all senses, from artistic to visual and political.” (Mirzoeff 7)
This statement seems to be a positive one in that it tells of the human race continually striving to better themselves; but I also perceive an underlying note of sinisterness. It seems to warn us that by progressing too much we could potentially undo or overwrite the history we have built up over our many years on Earth.
Critical thinking is the conscious act of acknowledging one’s own thoughts and questioning why we hold certain perspectives. It allows us to process what is on our minds, and therefore apply these reformed mindsets to everyday living.
Without critical thinking, there is only subconscious thought – the tiny judgments or ideas that flicker through our brains on a whim. Critical thinking allows us to hone these and turn them into fully formed thoughts.
One such example is if you were to see an overweight passer-by wearing tight clothing; an immediate reaction would be “they shouldn’t wear that, it accentuates their flaws”. Critical thinking would enable us to change this opinion to “they are obviously proud of their body”.
If we apply critical thinking in any situation, we are able to alter the things we have been subconsciously conditioned to think or believe, in order to make these thoughts our own.
When you are raised in a small town, you will develop one of two mindsets. The first of these mindsets is that moving elsewhere is not an option. Your birthplace is the place you remain, because it was the first place you ever knew; therefore it is your home. The second mindset is held by a very marginal collection of people. These people feel imprisoned by the dusty customs and officious beliefs they are expected to adopt as their own when they live in one of said small towns. This feeling of imprisonment often results in the mindset that ones’ current home has nothing more to offer and that to glean any sort of fulfilment from life, one must leave. My mindset is that of the latter, and I am one of the people who left behind my small town.
Te Awamutu – my previous home – is a town where tradition will always be favoured over innovation and originality, and where physicality is valued more than intelligence. I was always a “weird kid”, who’d prefer to read fiction and write poems instead of playing sport. “Weird kids” – the kind of kids who grow up to be artistic outcasts – are not truly welcome in small towns like Te Awamutu. They find these towns suffocating, anyway. I found my home suffocating, so I set out to find a new one.
Wellington provides me with the freedom I need to live a life where I can “breathe”; and by breathe, I mean “express myself without fear of oppression or dismissal”. Wellington is where I belong.
Here I can aspire to be like the people I have idolised since I was very young.
Neil Finn, who escaped from the same small town as I did and managed to “make it big”.
Chris Riddell, who found a niche in the field of illustration and used his work to inspire children to explore their creativity and aspire to great things.
Tony DiTerlizzi, who created other worlds with ink and brush in order to keep alive the imagination of any child who felt they might be losing theirs.
And Chuck Jones, who “took his work, but not himself, seriously” (Chuck Jones), and inspired me to do the same.
These four men have been my constant sources of wonderment, laughter, and hope. I want to influence others the way they have influenced me. If my art – whether it be illustration, painting, model making, or digital design – can be somebody’s reason to smile, to strive, or just to keep breathing, I will have reached self-fulfillment. The leaving of my small town will be justified. I will be content.