A friend of mine teaches English as a second language at a High School and as extra credit offered my illustration “cropping” up for interpretation. To give some context she tells me most of her students are 1st- and 2nd-generation Thai, and a handful were actually born in refugee camps built as a result of Vietnam fallout, and that “this is definitely work that resonates with them when they see insta-celebs gramming beautiful photos of elephants.” This is incredibly ironic to me, because just a few months ago I was traveling through South East Asia doing just that – taking photos of beautiful elephants (albeit as ethically as we could) and posting them on Instagram.
I’m no stranger to the guilt of the travel we do and this illustration certainly reflects that. It’s part self portrait, part warning sign, part satire regarding the part of my career that intertwines with social media and my own demons with it. Kellie and I travel a lot and are constantly confronted with these issues, we often travel for the sole purpose of volunteering or supporting Kellie’s school in Kenya and try to seek out ways to better the places we visit even if it’s just taking some plastic off a beach when we leave it – but it is still difficult for us, at the end of the day we walk a fine line between the first and third world when we visit some of these places and that balance is a regular topic of discussion for us. I think for Kellie and I it’s all about trying to see the world without being ignorant to it’s problems or avoiding the less fortunate people or impoverished areas in it, because as we have both learned over the course of our travels is that some of the most amazing moments can happen in the most unexpected places.
I don’t think I have ever had my work interpreted is such a formal way and it was and it was fascinating to see how the piece was viewed through the students eyes. A lot of the time I illustrate when I can’t find the words to express my feelings on a subject and I think the combined interpretations below fill in my blanks perfectly.
“The purpose of this image is that the author wanted to show the audience that everything in social media is not all true because people can hide thing that they do not want to show the world.”
“The purpose is to acknowledge that there are wars happening around us, yet some people in the world can careless about what is happening around them.
“The speaker is someone who values happiness and fun, but still cares about what is going on in the world.
“The audience would be people who can make a difference but choose to notice something smaller.
“Show how people spend too much time and effort to look at and look good on social media instead of looking at the world around them. The man isn’t even looking at the girl, he’s looking at the phone.
“The speaker is trying to show the audience that “this is you. This is what you’re doing while everything is happening.”
“I think the speaker is mindful of what people think beauty is nowadays. Instead of why is it beautiful, what makes it beautiful. The speaker appreciates beauty for its story and not just simply because it is appealing.
“The purpose is to show that we shouldn’t be worrying about which filter to use or put on our newest and most impressive photo but instead use that time that we have to voice concerns that are happening around the world.”
“This piece of artwork speaks about the troubles that others are facing in less developed countries, but how many don’t get to see those struggles since what is portrayed on social media are only the good things.
He cares about how much people actually neglect the real world and would rather live their life on social media. He values more of reality because he’s basically describing what social media is doing to us. Social media is a MONSTER.”
“Based on this image, I can tell that the speaker dislike how people post pictures on minor things when they should worry about bigger things like the war and orphaned kids. This person has a strong sense of justice and wanted to state the problem in society and careless people.”
“He’s trying to say that everyone is so attached to their phones that they don’t realize the things they are doing. There are so many obstacles and hardships that people are facing, so many countries that are facing conflicts and war. There are so many reasons why we should visit these places and acknowledge the meaning, the tragic, and even the foundation of these places. We’re supposed to admire the beauty and learn from these hardships. Yet, people are going on these tours to take pictures and be “couple goals” or “friend goals” or even “tumblr, instagram, and aethistic goals.” People are visiting places to be on their phone, to take pictures, to be goals of the modern society. They’re so attached to social media that don’t realize the things that are going around. They don’t take the time to appreciate and to admire. But most of all, they’re too blind to see the real meaning behind the words of explore, adventure, love, and having a real life.”