The Manageable Challenge — Social Media Challenges and the Absolute Impossibility of Ever Completing them

This is a cross-post with my tumblr where I put stuff that I have found and liked and which you can find here.

I want some challenges that “we” can do “as a community” that is, sharing them on social media with a hashtag, for example, that last for a week. I say this because, like most people I know here, on Twitter and on tumblr, I am a bit too mad and busy to commit to vlogging or practicing yoga every day for a month, or drawing a picture everyday for the next year, or writing an entire dissertation or novel in a month. But I still like to draw and write and tell stories and sing and read and sew and maybe make videos.

I think this could help people like me who are mad and busy but passionate. Or who want something to focus on but for whom a month or more seems like an eternity. Or for people who have so little free time due to family or burnout or friends or disability or work that committing to sit down to write 1,000 words at the end of each day is not only daunting, but nigh on impossible.

The idea is to create small online spaces to create without judgement or fear of being judged. If you like it, let me know, and I will set up a hashtag and page on my blog in which to store both the instructions and your contributions, or a separate blog altogether.

Here are some ideas so far:

FOUND FLOWERS — Drawing Challenge


Simple – each day for a week you find a flower and draw it. You can find the flower in your garden, online, or in the public park. If it is somewhere you can pick it, and you would like to, do, and maybe press the flower on the opposite page to your drawing. If you don’t recognise the flower, try to find out what it is and write it down, or ask on here!

The drawings can be as abstract or as representational as you want. You can take five minutes or five hours to draw them, depending on what time you have to give to the challenge each day. You could even paint or embroider them, if you prefer. Can’t find a flower you like? INVENT ONE.

This one is cool because we could have the chance to see and learn about flowers that grow in other neighbourhoods, in other countries, in other imaginations.


COMMUTER CHRONICLE — Writing Challenge

Commuting is the worst and everyone looks seconds away from falling down and wailing on the floor with an acute sense of the injustice of their condition. WRITE ABOUT IT.

You could, like James Benning might, simply observe your commute, take a pen and paper and notice the way the light flickers between people’s shoulders on the train, spreading its long fingers across the floor and retracting into a clenched fist. Take Annie Dillard’s advice and put yourself in the path of light’s beam, “the secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”

Be like Hemingway and write a six word story about something that fell from someone’s bag. Or write a six paragraph essay replete with footnotes like David Foster Wallace about men taking up too much space on the train. FOR EXAMPLE.

PHOTO A DAY — Photography Challenge

Similar to your fairly standard Photography Challenge except instead of lasting a month, a whole year, or your WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE, it lasts only a week. A nice, short, manageable week. And which will emphatically NOT require you to purchase a new external hard drive.

A week could look like this, for example:

Day 1 – A Tree

My friend, who is a ghost, has an ongoing project (makes it sound much more formal and much less fun than it actually is) on twitter where they take a picture of this one tree every other day or so. It is excellent, and if we speak the truth, we could probably all benefit from only ever looking at photographs of trees that look like they’re delivering a sermon to other, smaller trees. So take a picture of a tree.

Day 2 – A Window

None of my friends are doing a project of any kind about windows but that is because they’re all useless fools and don’t know at all what is good for them. That is a lie, they are all so brilliant that I can’t so much as joke about them without immediately disavowing it. Windows are brilliant, too. Sometimes I crack mine open to bring a little of outside in when getting out of the house is too much. Give your window some love, take a photo of it.

Day 3 – Water

I remember a tutor once telling me that her muse was water and I thought it was so trite. But I’m beginning to think that p’raps it was water’s multivalence that I found daunting. I’ve been writing and thinking and filming about water for almost a year now. Water doesn’t lend itself well to conclusions. Roni Horn has spent almost her entire career photographing about water. Maybe you should take a look at it, too. A river, the sea, the rain, your bath, the tap, the water in the spin cycle.

Day 4 – The Sky

Forgive me for making another James Benning reference, but I’m going to make another James Benning reference. There is a film he made, it’s called Ten Skiesand it is exactly that. Ten shots of ten skies. I love this film for many reasons, partly because, as I have said before, there is something like resistance that happens when we orient ourselves in the present rather than towards a future, that I think this film facilitates. But also because the sky is such a good thing — if we can call the sky a thing — to think with.


Day 5 – Trash

In June and July of last year I sifted through rubbish for the sake of art. Sometimes I made my friends sift through rubbish, too. I am sorry that I did that thing. Joshua Sofaer’s The Rubbish Collection, was an art exhibition within the Science Museum in London, which, through an interrogation of waste and its multivalence, attempted to challenge our preconceptions of what is and is not deemed valuable within the space of a museum. We collected, sorted through, and photographed thirty days of waste from the museum. It was pretty interesting. We found a lot of shoes. You probably won’t find any shoes in your trash, you will probably find yoghurt. Which I also found a lot of. It was mostly being used like a jacket for cold cuts. BUT IT STILL MIGHT BE INTERESTING.

Day 6 – Abstraction

Your only instruction: Be the Uta Barth you want to see in the world.

Day 7 – #SelfieSunday

All in all, this has been a pretty broad and artsy list, but this is not the kind of list that has ideas above its station. This list knows how goddamn beautiful you are. This list knows that nobody has eyebrows like you. This list also acknowledges that perhaps your selfie doesn’t want to be a selfie of your face. Perhaps you really love your cuticles, the dip in your hip, or your ears. This list likes the symmetry between the photograph of your iris and the water in the spin cycle.


One thought on “The Manageable Challenge — Social Media Challenges and the Absolute Impossibility of Ever Completing them

  1. Pingback: pocket-sized projects launches | Little Time

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