Flux #12 | Guest Intro: Medium as Mind

expression that flows

Hi there it’s Kelsey! I’ve been visiting the Junto team this past week after moving back to the US from Sri Lanka!! I’ve been hanging out in their cozy, book-filled Bronx abode, exploring the museum of alternative milk that is their refrigerator (rice milk anyone?) and having some of the most revelatory late night (early morning?) chats about all things internet and society with the team. When I’m not at the Junto house, I’ve been on a dizzying escapade through the New York art scene trying to catch up on the exhibitions I’ve missed while living abroad. 

Before I decided to spend my time looking at other people’s art, I used to make my own. After a day spent painting, I would look up from my canvas to find the world around me completely transformed. I’d easily become lost in the pink shadow in the dip of the orange MTA subway seats, mesmerized by the rainbow of blue-greens at play in a swimming pool, or intrigued by the yellow puddle of light on a notebook. I saw potential for paint on every surface of reality.

Be it the paint on a canvas, vibrations of sound in the air, or a collection of pixels on a screen, a medium is the transitional space where an idea becomes a piece of reality. To choose a medium is to choose the parameters and constraints of that medium too. For example, to choose to photograph is to choose to crop. It is to choose stillness over motion, to choose color and shadow over tones and pitches. It is to choose to express an idea through an image rather than a sound, a dance, etc.

But what if we become so bound up in one medium, our minds begin to take on not just the possibilities of the medium, but the constraints of the medium too? 

When I was living in Sri Lanka during a coup, there was a brief period of time when I could only get news from social media. Most newspapers were owned (and influenced) by wealthy, politically-involved families and cable news stations were all in the local language. Twitter became the only option for any semblance of “objective” information, and I spent far too many nights drooling over my newsfeed pulling the refresh lever like a gambler glued to a slot machine. My mind, once teeming with long and windy ruminations was overtaken by emotionally charged staccato-like thoughts (none exceeding 280 characters, of course). And, when I, finally numb to the dopamine rush incited by a new tweet about the coup, tried to read a magazine article instead, my eyes wandered off the page when I was a mere three lines in. The medium (Twitter) had reshaped my mind in its image. 

As I retrained myself to read and think in full sentences (a difficult thing to do mid-coup!!), I wondered about the implications of the limitations built into these communicative mediums that we use so frequently. What would the world look like if we all saw with Instagram’s gaze? How would we be empathetic if we understood emotion only through the categorical Facebook react buttons? Where would innovation come from if our thoughts couldn’t exceed 280 characters? Facebook’s like button, Twitter’s character limit, Instagram’s square frame, Snapchat’s disappearing images— we made these mediums— complete with their constraints— but the mediums have also made us. 

So next time you choose a medium— be it for communication or expression, interrogate the medium— its possibilities and its restrictions. If our mediums reshape our minds, would you want to be in your head? 

For now, if I have to hand my mind over to any medium, I think I prefer the quaint medium of paint, but hey maybe Junto can change that ;)

Have a nice week fraaands!

xoxo Kelsey 

(for my thoughts filtered + cropped to 280 characters: @ables_kelsey)


What’s new

#VolunteerInitiative

  • We just rolled out an official volunteer initiative for Junto. Essentially, the goal is to provide anyone the opportunity to contribute to this project on a more official, hands-on basis. We’ve set up a Slack channel, formalized the first cohort, and will begin monthly calls starting January. Volunteers will be involved in anything from outreach, writing and design to being the first to test the beta and recommend new product features moving forward. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, fill out this typeform and we’ll get back to you as soon as we begin onboarding more people.

#Dev

  • We’ve finalized our UX/UI for this initial release and are on track to finish building everything in January. We’re going to test the beta out with our volunteer community first and then open it to those who waitlisted. Stay tuned!


#WeeklyResonations

Here’s what our team found valuable this week:

From Yaz:

I quite enjoy this funky dude.

From Drea:

Today after reading Kyle Hornick's comic Shrubby, Self (which was conveniently left out on our dining room table), my brain felt completely exercised and refreshed in all the right ways.

10000/10 would recommend.

The following is what I wrote in my notes while reading, some phrases quoted directly:

what are you, and are you separate from your environment?
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our brain compensates for the blind spots in our vision, so our brain constructs what we see
your neurons create your field of view and the image inside of your view
you are the space in which the contents arise
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you are what you’re aware of
the experience is constantly changing awareness
it becomes whatever occupies it 
an ever shifting fluid song of thoughts and sensations
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my awareness arises because of the environment
the environment arises because of my awareness
my awareness is the environment
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i am my experiencing of my environment
i am the environment of others’ experiences
i create my environment and my experience
we all create everything we know

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the end

We want your feedback.

Like what you see? Share it! Think we can be doing things better? Let us know. We’re open to ideas so DM us at hi@junto.love or drop any of the team members a note at their individual emails listed on our website here.