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David Ni

CONTRIBUTORS Chloe Chen Sara Choi

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Adam Herold Minzie Kim Gloria Shi


Lily Stern Clement Xu

07 08 09








In Jorge Luis Borges’ short story, Del Rigor en la Ciencia (On Exactitude of Science), Borges illustrates the Ludic fallacy through the example of an empire’s cartographic development. He imagines an empire whose desivre for a more accurate, exact map subsequently leads to the continual increase in map size and detail, so much so that it spanned the area of the empire itself. This story is used as an example of a simulation, or an imitation of the operation of a real world process or system over time, in Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. As the empire expands and falls, the map remains the sole record of the empire, regardless if it followed the empire’s progression or not. The Borges’ map becomes the basis and record of the locations in the empire in the future; in essence, symbol precedes reality as the “map” creates the “domain.” In short, people imbue strong values to symbols and iconography, creating simulations that in turn overtake reality. While Borges was mocking scientists who believed they were uncovering and recording reality (hence the name, On Exactitude of Science), the vulnerable nature of reality reaches beyond the bounds of academics.


II. THE IMAGE AND DIGITAL century, the computer has come to replace MEDIA Inthethemap.21stSimple lines of code start to replicate non-digital life. Our consumption of digital media itself can be considered a form of simulation. Algorithms and personalized data analysis filters visible content, making it so that we cannot discern for sure what we are viewing is pure or altered. Our digital life is shaped and controlled by others. Therefore, our perceived reality is different from the objective reality. Digital media and the internet have become the “maps” of our reality. The malleable nature of digital images is foundational to this virtual cartography. Images and online content, having become the navigators for our decisions, are created, edited, and discombobulated beyond the realm of truth.



Hito Steryerl’s In Defense of the Poor Image describes this nature of images as, “swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities… defiance and appropriation… conformism and exploitation… it is about reality.” This re-rendered, copy-pasted image is described as the “poor” image by Steryerl, where the image has “deteriorated.” Common examples of the poor image include torrented movies and most images and texts we see on our social media’s “for you page.” In contrast, the “rich” image is the original, un-tainted version of the image or object. The image is thus classed; the poor image is widespread while the rich image is exclusive.

III. OUR “DIGITAL GARDEN” The nomenclature of the “poor” image and the “rich” image is both literally and metaphorically relevant. The poor image is for the impoverished, distributed for everyone to access and view. The rich image is for the affluent, exclusive to those who can afford it. This is more apparent in regards to physical artworks, and the level of access people have to museums and galleries. But how does this connect to the idea of simulations and wealth?

The intentional pr oduction, application, and circulation of images shape the viewer’s life, regardless of whether or not they are “true.” The “poor” image is circulated to the less affluent, to those who cannot afford/reach the threshold for the “rich” image. This indicates that those who cannot afford or have an entryway of sorts to the “rich” image are more susceptible to manipulation of their reality and views through the media.

Consider political advertisements and information. Are the Trump administration’s statements about the lack of Russian involvement in the 2016 and 2020 elections true? Individuals may doubt and be barraged by opposing statements from all sides (the “poor image”), but only Americans and Russians with great governmental authority and those rich enough to clear such obstacles have access to the truth (the “rich image”).

Returning to Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard described the successive phases of the image as an iconographic influence as:

The algorithmic personalization of these simulations lead to personal “digital gardens” unique to each individual controlled by an “extra-digital” entity. It is an echochamber of manufactured reality and reinforcement. Using the internet is not an active choice anymore - it is integrated into our daily lives so seamlessly that opting-out is almost impossible. If we are neither the source nor the editor of the digital media that we consume, it is inevitable for our autonomy of perception and reality is taken away as well.

Despite what we’d like to think, we are likely to take an image at face value, assuming that it’s true or that we’re not susceptible to manipulation. Without the base source image or knowledge, it is near impossible to discern the truth. Those less affluent therefore have a different “digital garden” and different mindscapes to those of the affluent. While the rich are given the opportunity tvo forge their own path, the poor are destined to be guided and misguided by the whims of those who control the digital landscape.

1. It is the reflection of a basic reality. 2. It masks and perverts a basic reality. 3. It masks the absence of a basic reality. 4. It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.


We live in a world where digital overproduction and over-visibility conceals the truth; where there is more and more information and less meaning and clarity. It is impossible to discern reality within the confines of our digital garden. The same way the map is not the territory, the digital abstraction of something is not the image itself. With the encompassing and omnipresent influence the digital provides, one day, it will no longer seek to transcribe the past; instead, it will seek to render the future.


MEDIUM DESIGN COLLECTIVE When visiting an art museum, certain exhibitions may compel us to question its validity. Such displays, ranging from household objects to single strokes of paint on white campus, or even food, all evoke a similar question; that being, why would something

so seemingly ordinarily be admitted to such an exalted institution? Contemporary art is oftentimes considered radical, sensual, or even extreme. Artists’ works and opinions are rarely understood until they have explained themselves. Even then, artists’ opinions were rarely accepted, as many perceived acceptance as more a challenge than a goal. For many, art then becomes more than just the form, it becomes a method of expression, articulated through the use of hands and mind.

These pieces of art are indicative of the

resides in that of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

work was perceived as repulsive and shocking. His

artist’s individuality and the market for such art

frescoes. Rejected by the church for its nudity and

creations intended to shift the focus of art from

is usually valued at a high price, depending on the

graphic violence, the Vatican officials deemed his

the artist’s physical craft and skills to the mindful

artist’s skills, popularity, and uniqueness. As time

work too obscene, denying patronage and alienating

interpretation. Yet through the simple act of parody,

continues to pass, contemporary art has become

Michaelangelo. Obscenity, of course, was no idle

Duchamp is able to re-imbue the detritus of society

a collective of expressiveness, representation, and

artistic license, but a profound (and as yet deceptively

with value. Whether it is true that value comes from

history and the market value continues to reach its

simple) act of rebellion against the dominant powers

sensationalism or actual artistry is up to debate.

highest level.

of his age. However, with the separation of church

Modern Examples and Commercialism in Art

As society increasingly fetishizes commodities, art

and state and the decline of religion as the primary

So, what is art now? What determines the value of art

has become materialistic. Whereas previously art had

patrons of the art, artists started to find work severed

today? Art is still being used as a form of expression

previously been treated as a symbol of dedication,

from God.

politically and socially, however, its value has been

affection, and understanding of the Church and

DADA and its VALUE

reconstructed due to artists like Maurizo Cattelan,

government. It has become a demonstration of

Artists have continually challenged these problems

who is better known as Banksy. Banksy’s $120,000

one’s wealth and their appreciation for high class,

through their participation in a variety of art

installation shocked the world when he used a piece

and refined tastes (whatever that entails is more

movements. One such movement that transformed

of fruit to challenge the fundamentals of today’s art

than likely dictated by the last season issue of the

the public’s views on the value of art is Dadaism.

industry. This banana peels back and in turn, reveals

Sotheby’s catalogue). Rather than a focus on the

Originating in Switzerland, Dada reflected the

the corruption of how art is publicized and how its

talent and message behind the art, investors are now

philosophy of those who rejected the logic and

value is being determined. After even more social

buying pieces for their future value. The appreciation

rational aesthetics of modernist-capitalist society

media exposure, the value of the banana taped to the

and understanding of art continue to stray further

in favour of expressing nonsense, irrationality, and

wall soared significantly. Modern and contemporary

and further away from what it is really being used for;

anti-bourgeois protest. One of their pioneers, Marcel

artists continue to expand the definitions of art to

replacing expression and reflection for the thrill of the

Duchamp, was instrumental in creating and expanding

more than just dimensionality. In addition, the media


the influence of this movement. Through his term

has come to play a significant role in how art is valued

Premodern Art:

“Readymade,” Duchamp’s use of everyday objects

today, being integral to branding and marketing — an

The norms in art have always been set by the highest

awoke society’s eyes on what can be art and what can

effort all artists need to make to receive an income.

echelons of society; in early times, it was dominated

be expressed in art. More than just visual pleasure, art

But perhaps even more importantly the media plays a

by the church. The Catholic Church is still to date

shows us the corruption and materialism in society.

completely reinvented role in the value of art today; it

one of the most important collectors and patrons of

His use of these often unwanted and purposeless

much readily ameliorates the value of art, a welcome

art. Because of the clash between the church and

items was created into what was titled “found art.”

aid when so many and so much go towards hindering

government, art was constantly commissioned by

One of his more prominent creations was L.H.O.O.Q.,

the creativity and freedom of art and artists.

the Church as a means of political alignment and

a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa on

propaganda. The power of the church made art elitist,

which he drew a goatee and moustache with a pencil.

Artists, free from the traditional paths of the agent,

biased, and also impossible for ownership for people

The name, when pronounced in French, is a coarse

the gallerist, and the auction house, are able to

of a lower class. Thus, access and themes in early art

pun — “elle a chaud au cul”, translating as “she’s got

command their own direction and profit. But lest

was restricted by their dominated governments and

a hot ass.” This remake is not being considered less,

one be too caseless, the seduction of the art market

religions, their value in the market was also extremely

the Mona Lisa still represents a prime example of

is intoxicating where the worst punishment is being


classical aesthetics; the L.O.O.H.Q postcard remake

labelled a “cop-out.”

Premodern artists’ realms were thus limited only

alternatives a user’s perspective on what should be

to the divine: God and Crown. One such example

considered art. Turning “trash” into art, Duchamp’s


In Disdain of Art by:

Chloe Chen













Beep beep. Beep beep. My phone lights up. 7 am. The garbage truck is here. I fumble for the light switch. 7:30 am, dragging the comb through my hair, it’s stuck, I pull harder, pricks snap. 8:10 am, I crack an egg in the pan, the smoke alarm screeches, “Fuck, not again.” Open the door, slam it shut. Locked. The neighbor’s kid bumps into me, my right ankle twists. Wincing with pain, I see his mother’s pitying look. 8:40am, I stretch out my hand to hail a cab. A girl came up next to me, glanced at me then went back to her phone. A yellow cab stops in front of me, the girl gets in, the cab drives away. I am running late. Run. Run. Run goddamnit. Should I take off my heels? Should I run barefoot? Scraping shoulders in my rush, keep going. Bikers zoom by, blowing my hair into my face, keep going Accumulating sweat under my arms, keep going. I arrive at the base of the 100-floor glass cladded behemoth, I stop. 9:19; 19 minutes late, Jenny looks at me in disdain, and without a word she hands the day’s list to me. I scan through it hoping for something interesting, different, alive. There’s nothing. This is what I worked for, what I wanted. Powering up the computer, it says “good morning” to me, my first “good morning’’of the day. Waiting for it to load, I watch my coworkers at the coffee bar, smiling, laughing, chattering, how can they be that happy this early in the morning? I don’t have enough energy at 9:31. Is this what I thought I wanted? The glare of the computer screen, the rhythmic drumming of the keyboard, the click-clack of the mouse. I shake my left leg under my desk, up and down, up and down. I check my phone.

Beep beep. Beep beep. My phone lights up. 7 am. My feet searching for slippers, brushing past a pile of clothes, knocking over cardboard boxes before stepping on something prickly, “wtf is that!”. It’s my comb. 7:30 am, I dab some lip gloss on. 8:10am, can’t be late again, no food. Strapping up my heels, I half run half stumble out my apartment door. 8:40am, no sign of a cab.

I start clamoring, A malodorous smell drifts over, keep going. Children zig-zag in front of me, keep going. A gust of wind blows my skirt, keep going. I see my reflection in the shop windows, keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. You’ve got no time. Don’t stop now. I arrive at the base of the 100-floor glass cladded behemoth, I stop.

I am 2 minutes late, Jenny peers at me. She mouths “get a watch”. Settling at my desk, I pant and fan myself, she gets on my nerves. This is what I worked for, what I wanted. A coworker scans mee, wrinkles her eyebrows, and whispers to her companion. I duck down. Is this what I thought I wanted? The glare of the computer screen, the rhythmic drumming of the keyboard, the click-clack of the mouse. On and on. It’s 7 am, again. 7:30 am, I force a smile on my face. 8:10 am, I burnt my toast. 8:40 am, no cab ever stops for me. I start my rat race. Keep going. I’m late, I work. I’m tired, I sleep.

I wake up; the toast! I work; the salesman smile I sleep.

I wake up; food?; I work; well?

I sleep…



Cold are the pitying gazes, the judgy glances, the disregard that cloud my senses, I can’t feel anymore. Cold are their whispers, their fingers prodding me, each a wave pushing me down, down, down just when I touch the surface. Cold are the doubts, the questions, the hopelessness that chills my bones. There’s me, thrashing in the waves, gasping for air, screaming for help yet they all walk past me, do they not hear me? Warm are the tears streaming down my face, blending with the waves, melting the mask, the fake smiles, and the pretend laughters. I’m tired, the wounds in my clockwork tightens, tightens, tightens then snap, shattering into pieces, each washed away, drowned. Warm is the calmed water bundling me, I can’t move my arms anymore, and so I let go. There’s me, in the depth of the water amongst bubbles and fishes, accepting a fate I dealt myself, is there not a way out? Hot is the pain ripping through my lungs, uncontrollable, unstoppable, I can’t breathe. Hot is the anger when I bang on the glass and no one even sees me. It rises inside of me, envelops me, consumes me. Hot is the frustration boiling inside of me, why do I do this? Why am I clawing for an escape, when there’s no door? There’s me, alone in the center of the room, trapped in a fish bowl, a display no one cares to see. A jump through the top is all it takes to be free…

I don’t wake up in my bed. My head throbs, the hard surface isn’t helping. Opening my eyes, I make out the silhouettes around me, or lack thereof. No bed. No chair. No desk. Where’s my polly dog? Perhaps it’s too dark for me to find them. A glimmer of light peaks through the drawn blinds, pulling them apart, a strong breeze whooshes my hair up. My windows panes have vanished, someone must have stolen them and my bed, my chair and desk, yes, that must be it. I move my hand towards the void, maybe if I get close enough, it’ll solidify. It’s empty, an opening. Peaking out into the streets, a man in a suit is walking a cow, they are matching! White on black, black on white. What time is it? I can never keep track of time. My phone knows the time, where is it? Not on the shelf, not on top of the shelf, not even under the shelf. The thief took it, I’m sure of it. I did find a comb under the shelf, I pulled it out, examined my tangled hair. “Not today, today I don’t care.” I push the brush back under the shelf where it seems it wants to be. The closet door is locked, I wiggle the handle, nothing happens. Glancing down at my feet, there’s the shirt from Texan Horse Camp 2001 that still fits, this will have to do for today. The kitchen is dark, the twin red lights from the smoke alarm shines, daring me, challenging me. I stare back at it, it stares at me, it blinks first, I win. Getting to the door, the left heel of my only pair of heels is gone, lost, can’t be found.Whatever. The door is stuck, I pull on it, it pulls on me, it lets go of me, I fall. I wake up on the floor. My room is bright now, the waving of blinds makes light dance across the ceiling. They start

moving away from the ceiling, jumping to the shelf, sliding down the blinds. The first one is a little boy, quite like the neighbor’s boy, I watch it slip from the blinds and fall, oops. The second is Jenny, no, not quite Jenny, her eyeballs are moving in a circle, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… round and round, tic toc. A third one is a girl, strutting around her gaze never leaving her phone, she doesn’t see the shelf edge, oh well, at least she got down there fast. There’s me, reflected on the ceiling, coming in and out of focus, fading from reality. There’s me with a never fading smile, a wind up key on my bed, a few twists and there I go day after day. There’s me, flopping on a cold-tiled floor, gasping for water, gasping for air, suffocating. Am I happy? That can’t be me, I want to get out. I don’t just want to survive, I want to live. A jump through the top is all it takes to be free, so I grew wings and leaped through the windowless windows. 7 am, I awake naturally from a long swlumber. 7:30 am, I look at myself in the mirror, a smile stretches across my face, moving muscles I forgot I had, a smile just for me. 8:10am, in the sizzling of the egg, the trickling of water, time stands still, moments lengthen, I’m learning to live. 8:40 am, I take a deep breath, send the long overdue email to Jenny. She must be thinking, “late again, what else is new”. Settling down, I start writing about two dreams, one I dreamt last night, one I’m dreaming now.




The nature of the problem is always the self: I am….

There are everlasting doubts that last until the ‘self’ is consumed. “Artist” has gradually become a form of identity which (as every artist knows) often carries with it as many drawbacks as benefits. Consider that if artist equals self, then when (inevitably) you make flawed art, you are a flawed person, and when (worse yet) you make no art, you are no person at all. Control, apparently, is not the answer. People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to make art that is risky, subversive, complicated, iffy, suggestive or spontaneous. What’s really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. Cast away the comfort.



Sara Choi

n m ? ou oi t ng m se sa tak I es ab ’s g wha thi ith my t e w g ng y th st en e le ll a g lp e in al tia th in he tun sk g ju wh tun ut a in ch ar g ow o n e p s s p e hi kn ty t g in just do lik i in to at’ . es it’s yt d h is I y , ad lly T s e r b th h er an ocie ayin like a e nk v y ay rg re tim e. f t en , m thi h e ws s s st k, bl d de ’t t l o h ife a u t e l n n i l e co I ne thi like hec ob es U as th min a e w nt er e: w e c r f p m m de . th e. I w ke ov mi ate th r o rt is in , m ta a fro or stu ace Ja d ng e a lf tly ng ti e i b p e to ad em er ys es oi a lik n’t en ed t f of sp re m th m on d at ot, did ev rn en xt y a e o ing g. : H een ep a l I or lea om nte d m th ep oin ine b st lf se f g I m co nee ke d er ’ve a yse cau ld in !” he I I’m th I gs m e ho th oh n t nd b “ Ca ing thin ed lf on est n, e” i n a a b a m th g ct yse m i in egle m ing the like e T hu n ith yth ly t “M a w er ab jus d I’m ev rob as too ke, p w ers li It d lso un t a bu D EN

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an re ne Ko sce ing e iz e es t ar ak th tha ili y t ake a l al e fam inl r t ed ea o ik nd l is m d f arn ecr so ou el uy I oo le o r I al we f e t ar fe g ut e e I’v g r. e e B be e th th k in ea or om g y f . m n a ck hin tr t y e t s din to t t es he ah pa I t lot las y b bu win a t sto ge k w h t ha re I ma ke ry, and bu d a en e d ard art w 9 . e t d sha D-1 h t li I s s ss t . n n V r i s , rs ng k tm th t ho O e e le tA e e l pa e ki oo ar f o e w s w the C rpos ro n o m b? ick ts; il Ic p e u e’s pr er o u ent t a s o e o d c n t s you yp er e th t tud ing g. y en IT’ tim rj ie ato th s y u n ll s dur rivac bout . i m n th ’r o ha c ith d t e ou a s p h rne y e we ch s t ow c w re ra in in he ow th ea I’m t o m t Co rker for g d us o ea e i h er of in om elf fro ’t d wa em at kn by wo al wo used tell m an ning ca ls s w lik ow th e rt ? ht i ie fr ims rs on st th rs ou ed een you wit enti pa to be al no ’t kn r o tim st y d ust u y r Jam e i h h k t ess ve b an d is iew isle as j RT I d j of oo , on ’t fo f ju t te rd y a s r i R e o ’ o g y l a fl h as e, c erv o t. om e S TA me in o it w at ll or w isl in to I d on ca t it’s n int ves yms oye y na ing ou t fr som the th rea s av for t R din get ess , I d ypi a lo n, it’s ntl s did eir li udon empl t t my ork ar, rre at a t it’ l rf an u t lo k , e p u t f e y d ) u c d u e r o nt t e f th Pse Ac bu us g er d gu al s dw e t ? a i e j t m s e a o e i h d t s , t a ic. I’m so yo lo in h an I en o B hs s in t s s t i t r d rie dem a stu you d s to I star ere l g? ug cau m sw ose I’m . t’s o rk o er ing ing th sp ’t an k pa s n rs r cl ays n. ha u n wo to oth th in if we isn stin (La be my ne pa a: As what gue CS. ed th e d r d n eri I wo n I t r de st ral W o e h u t. g h d a w e t r . e t y . e g o r e : c Sa and ell, ring i e I liv . a k m l r Ca ies f do ra o li a e So th it igh hi dis pa pin n ay o t le gen age? I p d g r a n sel ie: W majo caus r me e is stud Sa art ie: om on o. ose do y n e w of ite ee I ca nyw kin r a the I’m m e o ma on Jam nior tly b ent f y na Asian ing nd r or stati ng p m s c to ll to cl lls ver lac nd vor sw so r a ac k, o t kly, me s i e i e r a p e a ork r a s a p i u c o e a n n v e a e u J a ju l mos nven re, m r’s in s t k f h th asy at f is thi eo qui r s ak er rai teve ser er n w ye . l of clo w en g ut ire d y k e y ha lly co e: Su aste town bee ore e a t wha ines erev o h n I t m th le n o d n m l u o p h ty rett stu ini lls b en y a ot m I lik t’s e ve t d t tly, r ta inda ng it rea heri my llege e yo phom to b work hot tw p e r d ha he ess t n ly . I ’t li ar en s fo k k thi se om peo t i ng ou up st co hav y so rk l k t Ca r s h e o u n j t g w g m i I h m rsu g in ng itch ju a r on rw ec er or g au f e g o s I u . n n o ut t i l t a ’ y w pu on sw ot in n y s w d fo d rd w on c d th i ’ e l o c e I l r n t r g po How rted didn ld no ostl to ) b do Ko di an ea , i : A ss nd ok in e o to w y b fo ow So d a m I y g t u n r D? hs I t . e s o e e ra: n e ng ove ,h cle r ad e le a lo do th in l m , h n d VI ug gs e b e l I n b a t t d i Sa ie: I e, lik bly c o, bu y. I t y g cki t lik at er min little on’ en al tr ck fu or hin eI all. CO t (la hin on che n by Jam ploye roba me Risle st f o her s? th ath ty a I d be om I’m pa It’s n I t t p t ru , la ith ar f t d ie ith em t I gned es a w C g. S ilit as t fr g. ’ll t. he igh e. w p o be ear t et er t rs I b i n y r n bu i a , i e t t s r s t pr and pa ss h ke i etti ed tha , w e r stak ed rite ms to er y ass dish las e hi pon ntac regis table rds th og n e w e e li g r a co ke th i n vo ter ve a e the mai me. tarted y wer n res e i s n v h e n i r dp g ec h i y sc lik , l ys a m cha fa In ha T e s m the y put e: I s w the r ma an th t ’t rese th th a” an dinin e Bu see e be just id how lwa ke ob my w. gs l i i n a j ’t p a the heri d I sa e you have ’s w don ar w yadd ave a peop ly n it e’v e t tu r ’s m r n no hi e l t a h m i y ’ s I Ca , an t ar ’t w t de it n’t ou l is ty e t ter cia .W dd lly f s n a e e a a ff e d a a s o y t h so ing on and do as y stil iori inc foo a: W I d ecau e sta om l zed, norm right t, esp para n r i s r a th w s it h ng pr e Sa ie: in b ull-tim les f sanit . We hem o th a se ey ca m lace ing ow ani a ow t o d f Jam ple s or e tab een ant t lean can y has so th m. p ck : H le ely e n s b I r o h pe nage se t has hey w f us c eals, Risle tely, r the etime s pa ra e: C nit lik t u o Sa mi efi eel ma just table n if t one o ng m ens. epara t it f som dien g i d If e e a J we “this it dow nt or serv aller od s go g like ingr s it’ e, da f re ific ns r fo ust ings, and say i a o c e c lik e s ’ll j ten ple m at term th sp old th and I of th oxes i roo ve. In le w to h this” nch l b be lea peop ainer rved a bu d la t e for con I res do ck an t ho “hey e: I e ba n say heri in th t Ca ork I w

rno ,” w e lik “wo at e, lif ike here tak l ry e ng ivi just nce s I’v eve ack b til ie g e n s ’m er in lik o u h g p l t g ex e fee n I ird hin ily m I he we e t ar ll s a so e o us t w be th es e e l ca bu to al ec iat ak be ful ng like ot n rec m e i d n app to m e in go elt r m g’s It f ke… t I hem fo t I’v t li u y in e. u th her felt t? B for y. earl , b se e t o lo k el he n ife d a too af too d m st d i us as it g s le ge ng un lubs , w hi e rt nin litt an e t t aro d c now er ffo pe a ch u es n th d e reo it’s it’s all ing a ut rt e m nn es b po ak k ys an e s p t s e k wer thin wa ru las time d o an l so th c a o Ic e, ys n o ey e: I big m r lik wa to o g e to in ny in al get ices of a ? Lik no f er a el t th ng r t e ow ni be to ac or at wi . urs kn ed ea em ing pr s s alu ow ure yo rt g m em try nd wa ev r n ict g sta din I r d, gs a old t, re fo he p ldin fin ys. rgra tin n h ese ace of t bui re da de ee e o to r n p ut un d m g lif e ow of o ou an vin or m my rt e y ha ty f s at n so ar ni ing tio ow th aliza H ci ra: Sa







p fu , el ow ys kn as t o u m g ou d B in , y to g. nd ep n ed on lf a ow ke g o ne al yse lf h e n I gs m e m

this er all w aft s life, so o n ly erent ut campu family ur so diff bo orks us a bit a ow is yo w It H s. ? ld it u o b y t o a y ss. M day h g. You’ve life for e I gue h has tin s m , o ju d h d o ic a t y go City], wh all of abou prett [ f what doing New York ginning o cause ? g e in ’r o e y e d e b in h T e ’s r ere b leav: th e h t t ie e is c m s g ’s in Ja in y s e y n m a r t o t s e y… bett every . The res sad famil and a lot d of d oo t in ll e n k a n e t ly e t m e ’s p n go he o s of o t of lo but s ent is s kind hich kind g in abou this ’s m t e r h in s w apa rida they’re do ink health rk so her lo o F Y in w ew I th ld be u o ing N family is nd out ho r break. c fi fo tion y of m ing so I’ll ead back the situa t h th call every th when I g okay bu ideo oy. I v n a mo ey’re doin er there. doing oka they’re d n th w tt wise d a lot be rents are , see ho m a grow y I’ le pa eck in student? n-up in m hand ine: My h c e to d er ow to se Cath a lot, just I’m a gra ’s the gr who like who ing in on gh. But I y e r n them u n ’s fu heck enou e when not s ing. It t of, I’m ke who’s c sleeping ic li or it’s n k in on e up, s anymore, r if they’r up? Like ec o y g lso ch in a w ld famil ’ve eaten o r u g o h f s o y I , but if the hat’s part ys? n me t se da ay. g the been ok r think hecks in o in o d c ’s u ve it o o m y t o r s . e a e m d t p ar ssma ion to nd da ou. How he most a la c r e t y h h t otiva I feel rly ct wit e for Sara: I feel lik to conne ve the m I have ea : a n d e h ie r h a m o w h t Ja f lly hard ind o pecia It’s k and it’s g class es in r m u o d Zo e ntrat conce




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om zo n e r ag i ll v g o n b sti hin bea un. I c t e rf a rtd w sam fo po an the I did . im be w e t no on hing sam ally n i so o lly m ng e t re w rea t th d the bei ome t the is e i h s t s no u ste v re t i a b n e us t’s ur tu e io te onew c nc sam as j ut i ect yo na opl ID ere the it w n b conn see by pe COV man f it in ff i e ith as ’t ike ow r u o d o n a t h e e s ag lly i m. L n my man ting vers g w ow h eep valu ta n tha ips, rea dor w o t hu eres ser ecti y. H to k the s e wa nsh eoth it no Tha int s as conn awa nage ? Or p io ar do ra: s so job ike it all ma r life ye elat h of ’ l r n r u t c t a u l a S t. I you ou ook yo yo n a i u no m o ak. sh tant h a b an se d y ust t how rt of t e r s u d bre e d f sub t wit ca l an ic j s of l pa ce ce c for ther ed m … cia ndemterm ntra oti very onta g n o w ke n e n I c ei an ho s li pa u in a c n’t ing ere I lost er ne b like le s d it’ whe a h yo ction e? t m p n w e t o e ’s k l o a c m s ne ur lif Som end brea r su very e fe h pe run, ls ni here i er e t e e t : m r i t o g v e f e y i y jus nt o o ith to t w on It f ow I D t of Jam of m r wi als w w that ntac the l em. u kn V n e s t CO mo like lo ov the t no on, n co h in th th yo d e t ht lik and Righ pers ep i s wi ct wi an ug , like ests deo e u e r d . t l h a n k p ak p i to yo I t firs nte pin t as ien ont e ing t at on i ake jus br et u ble be fr in c ut to h t m ere f m se me ing a still eep es o w d o up om as k Be o I’d e to each re. e kin t so n c o w who o wh hoic ne r the s th jus ed to d nds s a c meo ship It wa I was ba sed frie r e so ation ine: nd wer g I u s fo a rel ther ay ips thin it wa h e Ca k aw nds om ally too frie ut s rigin B my op. ike o kp ns, l sig



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m Ca orni ca the ng c un n re rin lass m der ally e: I es, to ana gra ask gue I jus kin tim gem d bu for ss I t fe wo d o e, li ent t I c . Gr ’m d el li Sa rk. f p ke o . I s an ad s oin ke I fo ra: Oh, aran ver till s say cho g ok ’m n im r yo This and oid Zoo ee s I’ve ol is ay. ot t Ja por u in re to , lik m. om gott de I fe her do mie tan all mot vot e I o I do e of en finit el li e. go , lik : I a t to of t e lif e. I m nly n’t my a lot ely ke t wo ing e m lwa you his, e is ail go go o old be a st hat’ re uld bac y fa ys l tha or j pre ed m out ut frie tter ep u s all m gula for k h mi iked t ge ust tty y b for muc nds abo p fr we sta y sis rly) a n ome ly a tal ts y som rou allo gro h, a fro ut t om all y h ter up orm , it nd p king ou t eth gh. t th cer ctu m t ime ho chi ome to f whe al y wa are to hro ing Wh e o ies ally. ime go me ll bu all eel n I ear s fo nts peo ugh that at’s ther and I’m Ca ing a lo t th the sep mov and r a and ple the ’s a a c day for lik the thro t. I en tim ara ed I k mu m reg da lway onst . s b an wa e I rin ugh jus I ge e. I t ted to It ept ch l y si ula y? ee t to tch was e: I sc t lik t lon ry t from hac that ong ster rly a n h o . e e a b (t er n ke d in us e o E c d l o t ep m e. ed ol a o y a all th ec alk tim sp s th usic mo to nd talk t sc her ers aus ing e ecia till os t t h t l e sho ion be r are to o oo and sinc e it’s o p han ly co w an ea st th l so m e s ea eop I r nn s w d ak he s lly es er m l e y ec e s tio ith f othe into ed peo etim su ha for ns rie r k k by ple es re s t o s , I nd -p -po it. h s th o th s. op p at I c e’s ink It’ da in ar all s en pa be nc un ’t rtl en e c de r y be kin lub gra ca d o s a d, us f n e ha d of rd m y

em th , of ing s ie az w or am at l st h a m it’s w re ra o a ag And d t re her st In al. are The ted re m mp ll. an mo co rne r gr lot ver Co fo a a e en e’s rid d to on Flo use a to et ll m t I g rne bu Co tra o ex e w t th re su t Ca t into , li digit ke, GOT a 7 as acco l art is I wa ju s u othe nt inste st kind . I design r a o e new fans st d to st f fun s d them o o a b f r r r e I e t ien c e s a d m t a u a ll d y is expe ds that cove y desig rted an se w p n c r art t in e s a e o y g d a , p n li note le who d to. It wa ke in a it. I mad d then s s jus o p e Sara for you n’t eve t nic lace I n some n : k Y n eah, . ow y e to kn ever recan o b o lo w u o w ther a lot e pretty ng dis ill le ta ave nice but of peop hard to nce so th c le m tact ere wer I’d gon aintain ial relat . io e w e rem ith. It w always to scho I lost to nships e u a the mber. E as a nic few wh ol with ch with s s e t f eelin o I stay for year Jam rength o pecially s ed g to ie know in conSara : It sho f some r with a w p e : Jam (Laughs s you w lationsh andemic people h ie ip ) testin seem : And w Yeah, y o the re s. g e al on it es a beca s like ev h every ah. re. e u t or a se you ryone’s hing b n d o n’t h able to eing virt obs ything u a li c v k u e to a tack mo al, it ju real re time e that s ccou s r o a beca nt fo e on no t Sar nymor use you ca w r e a , . : y o u kn n meet travelin cha It’s defi a o n n w it g , like… t like th g Jam ed you ely a b is . not r i e a ttitu ig chang hing abou : I’ve de t e. Ha ’s b s the nat t thing ecome oward s io d a n a al fr s, espe ily lif pandem lot iend c s in ially be more a e at all? ic c V p a ie p u r t s e n e I am have ciative and I in c a n see tertheir


er a







(T)RACE By: Mitchell Lin



E (T)


cases decreases, but due to a lack of distancing Absurdism is represented in our current life in

and containment each individual gets reinfected.

many ways, the most prominent being the coronavirus

In the second scenario, circles actively avoid the

pandemic. The failure to follow masking and social

infected, and the infected circles halt in place

distancing precautions, the growing distrust in the

upon contracting the disease, preventing a mass

healthcare system, and the public’s skepticism of

spread. This simulation creates clusters of infected

statistics and science has aggravated

our current

samples, whilst healthy circles avoid the infected

situation. My original idea was to simulate how

circles until recovery. Once each cluster recovers,

infection rates would alter depending on changes in

each circle return to original positions. Although

precautionary measures such as social distancing.

this simulation is not a completely realistic

In the first simulation, each circle would move

scenario, it succeeds in representing the blind

without restriction, freely infecting one another.

faith in ones self and the blind distrust of third

As each individual begins to recover, the number of




Panel I:

Panel II:

Floating, cloud, sky, edge,

Darkness, moon, concealing, flowers,

Chance, gentle, rain, cotton.

Remembrance, cold, solitude.

Butterfly, wings, lamplight.

Past life, ruined, sleep,

Slow dance, in,

Fearful, impending, good-byes



Panel III:

Panel IV:

Lightly go, slowly go,

Flower, the other shore,

Keep, one night, tears.

Leaves found, flowers wilt.

Fearful pain, elapsed speech,

Crescent, moon, deep, frost.

Sunrise, tears, dry.

Ephemeral, smoke, forget.


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In conjunction with the visual aspect of the eight

forms are not neutral in themselves, and as such cannot hope to

photographs, a literary component has been added. This literary

represent absurdity. Each word in itself implies a reckless plethora

component will consist of a poem written in cipher. A key will

of syntax, etymology, history and subtext, and when invoked in

not be provided, as the expectation is that the poem is not to be

speech, they imply not clarity but meaning, oftentimes at the

translated but to be viewed in gestalt, as part of the image in itself.

price of obfuscating abstraction. An interesting exercise would

The goal of the cipher presentation is to represent the third layer

be to present the third layer of untethered abstraction and use it

of abstraction in written language. Language in its current form (or

to explore a message of absurdity. The ensuing system of cyphers

at least written language) will perpetually be inadequate for fully

is not tied to etymology, nor is it weighed down by history for its

articulating or representing the meanings of absurdity. The fact of

symbols. At its most basic level, it is a manufactured language,

the matter is that language, no matter how difficult and chaotic

prized precisely for its untethered nature and inherent linguistic

in its construction (e.g. English),still retains a semblance of logic

neutrality. Of course, this does call into question what makes a

and validity. As long as language retains its ties to etymology,

language a language, for if possessing the requisite forms do not a

history, and grammatical roots, or even a semblance of origin in its

language make, then by the grace of which gods and which people

alphabet, then it retains its links to “reality� and is, therefore, ill-

are a language sanctified?

equipped to represent manufactured absurdity. This is no more than an exercise in absurdity. Without reification, Writing can be understood as the second layer of abstraction, with

this pretend language, no matter how valid in symbol and logic,

articulated thought being the primary. The fullest, unarticulated

will be no more a language than mere scribble. However, its

thought, ranging from primeval emotion to abstract conceptions,

greatest defect is also its greatest strength. Being untethered

form the primary, the unadulterated source. There is a degree

means that it is not beholden to etymologically set meaning,

of inter-connected influences between the primary and the

allowing it to undertake happily the role of articulating meaning

source itself, given that oftentimes abstract thought is only

in this absurd, manufactured reality. However, no matter how one

conceptualized through the imposition of language. Regardless,

might contrive this language, it will forever be subordinate in its

each time the original thought undergoes a layer of expression

position as an imposter. That said, that status is also accorded

it undergoes a process of abstraction, meaning that the

to that of any manufactured absurd reality well. Rejected from

presentation is distorted from the original. Each medium/method

the world on account of its illegitimacy, it is also the only system

of articulation invariably imposes a layer of meaning that is

capable of embracing the absurd in its comical impossibility.

different from its antecedent, and therefore entirely incongruous. For example, when an Ancient Greek composes a mental image of the Aegean, he sees a shade of blue, however, when he articulates the thought, and eventually commits the thought to writing, he writes of the sea as wine-dark. There are now several layers of distortion in place, each of them valid, but distanced from the original for the perceiver. The aforementioned abstraction in this case does not denote neutrality. Rather, to take the comments of Said in The Word, The Text, and the Critic, out of context, discourse and language contain an intrinsic will to power and domination. Language and written

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Beyond Absurd: Medium Editorial Winter 2020  

Beyond Absurd: Medium Editorial Winter 2020