Joseph Reyes

April 23


It’s weird to actually have a perfectly good and normal day. Looking back, it’s rare to have an objectively good day, a day I could just repeat over and over again. Maybe my medication is finally working, but I genuinely felt that last Sunday was a good day. I wish I took more pictures of that day. The sun was out, people were nice, no depression or anxiety, things were great.

Then Monday came along and I have to deal with new problems at work. Good-bye, serotonins! It was nice knowing ya!

Thinking back, it’s hard to remember many pure, perfect days… perfect holidays that I just want to re-live over and over again. I think I’m not alone here. People have a few perfect days that they re-live in their minds. Last Sunday wasn’t particularly special, but it was just a good, anxiety-free time. And in this day and age, at this stage of my life, that’s a big deal, I guess.


Been suffering from artist’s block lately. It’s been a week now and I haven’t been inspired to draw anything. I hate this. I hate this as much as the nagging need I have to draw or make art when I’m inspired by an idea. It’s always nice to finish a piece and finally be able to walk away from it, admire it from a distance. But afterwards, there’s the gaping hole where art-making should be.

I’ve tried to force myself to make art before, to basically just power through and make something until it looks like something inspiring, but I’ve never been happy with the results. They end up looking like something that cringes me out months afterwards, which is far less time than my regular art makes me cringe afterwards. Usually, it takes two years.

Anyway, I hope the art gods are kind to me and bless me with inspiration soon. I want to make art. I have so much time I could be filling with art that no one will buy. 

 

 

May 6


Looks like my team won’t be making it to the playoffs. Or even if they do, they won’t be making too much of an impact. It’s frustrating how the Winnipeg Jets was doing so well about a month ago, only to have so many unnecessary losses recently. The team just has a problem with consistency. I never know what kind of team will show up on the ice. And unfortunately, lately, it’s been a lackluster team that has no business making it past the playoffs. I enjoy watching and following hockey. It’s one of the few things that provide me with an escape and brings me back to my hometown. Too bad they can’t maintain their momentum and not fall apart right before the playoffs. Whenever I get asked about hockey, it can be very challenging explaining Winnipeg Jets’ situation to people and why I’m still following them.


I produce a piece of art every two weeks. This goes towards my Instagram feed, and the self-imposed two-week posting schedule keeps me motivated to produce works. It also forces me to keep on thinking and re-thinking ideas for works. If I don’t post, I feel like something was missed, like I dropped the ball. I mentioned this before, but during the pandemic, Instagram is a godsend. It gets me to post my art, get instant feedback, and even introduced me to people online who I can shoot the breeze with.

There are a few things that bother me about Instagram however. First off, it’s part of Facebook. As much as I have disavowed Facebook and try not to use any products sold by the company, I’m pretty much stuck with Instagram at the moment. I get pangs of guilt every time I turn on the app and see “from Facebook.” This is the company that is causing so many of the world’s problems at the moment, the company that fuels vaccine trutherism, instability in the Middle East, the rise of racism and nationalism, etc. It’s horrible. And every time I use the app, I kinda wish they weren’t bought by Facebook. Which makes me wonder why even bother putting “from Facebook” and remind users about Facebook? That’s not going to make people go back to their old Facebook account. If anything, it turns me off Instagram.

Another is that it kinda demotivates me from looking for real-world gallery opportunities. With the pandemic and everything, it’s very difficult to have shows in the real world. Even sending out works is impractical financially and logistically. It takes forever to send things overseas, if the postal service will even allow it at all. And with the instant gratification and interaction I receive off of Instagram, it’s very demotivating to even try with real-world galleries, especially with many of my past shows bereft of interactions with patrons due to me being overseas.

The third thing that bugs me about Instagram is that, I feel like my work seen online is ultimately just content for social networking services. It’s not high art or anything. My works, which I tell myself is the product of self-therapy and a means to cope with internal as well as external stresses, a personal means of expressions free from the pressures of selling work as an artist, they are all just images used to keep people in social media. Most importantly, they keep me in social media. I’m creating images, maintaining a schedule, all to produce unpaid content to a social networking company that doesn’t care about my time.

I’m not saying I’ll be stopping posting works on Instagram soon. I’ll just feel extremely guilty doing so.


I remember feeling a tremendous amount of glee when Donald Trump got banned from Twitter. I myself was banned from the platform due to my language against Newt Gingrich and Laura Ingraham. When Trump got banned, I was like, “ha! To think Trump and I are now on the same Twitter boat!” And now I learn that Trump is now essentially blogging as well. It’s a bit of a letdown compared to his announcement of launching a new communications platform. Well, technically, it IS a communications platform, for Trump, the same way Wordpress and Blogspot are communications platforms for anyone who wants to blog. Again, we’re pretty much in the same boat, the same blogging boat. It’s like 2005 all over again and all of the kids are blogging.

Actually, it reminds me of an episode of The Office when Creed launched a blog at www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthought, which is really just a Word document a coworker set up for him, calling it a blog. I can just imagine an assistant at Mar-a-Lago just getting a Wordpress account and calling it a “platform.” Trump might think it’s actually an SNS platform much like Twitter because his blog entries are essentially tweets. They’re not long drawn out articles like on would expect from an actual blogger. Or perhaps this just give us a window into how Trump’s mind works. He can’t stand reading more than a page; he probably can’t stand writing more than a page either. He is only capable of thoughts or ideas in small chunks. 

Artist

May 13


Korea has the highest suicide rate in Asia, and depending on the year, has the highest suicide rate among the OECD countries. I didn’t really feel how significant this is until after some sad news last night and much reflection.

Last night, my friend’s mother-in-law passed away. They believe it was suicide. It’s especially tragic since my friend just got married last year, and I do remember meeting her mother-in-law in the ceremony. I noted how she doesn’t smile much even during such a happy occasion. I suspected she might not be too thrilled with the marriage at the time, but looking back now, she might just be dealing with depression. The tragic thing is, the death was days after the Korean holiday Parents’ Day. She was visited and presumably showered with love and attention by her children, and yet days later, she takes her own life.

Two years ago, someone committed suicide in my parents-in-laws’ apartment building by jumping from the 14th floor. Last year, the mayor of Seoul committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. This is the same way the former president Roh Mu-Hyun committed suicide. It’s also quite common to hear about suicide attempts among celebrities in the media. I myself have been thinking and writing about suicide more often lately, I admit, to an unhealthy amount.

Looking back to my life in Canada, it’s very hard to think of anyone who has committed or has flirted with suicidal thoughts. Honestly, as of this time, I can only think of one person. But here in Korea, it’s scary how commonplace it is, not just cases of suicide, but reminders of it. Bridges have messages of encouragement and affirmations in order to prevent people from jumping. There’s a law that makes the victim’s family responsible for paying for the recovery of their body in the Han River, making it seem like the family is at fault for the victim’s actions and perhaps adding a burden of guilt to people in order to dissuade them. Train platforms in the country have full suicide prevention barriers, not like other countries where there are sometimes none or only a waist high fence prevents accidental jumpers. Despite all of these preventative measures however, the rate is still high, and even higher in the past year due to the pandemic.

According to a report by the OECD, Koreans complain more often about “relative deprivation” than other countries. This means people compare their lives more with other people and end up being dissatisfied with their current situation. This is not unique among South Koreans, but I can honestly attest that I’ve seen this several times, and instead of viewing this as petty or just thinking “be happy with what you have,” people view this as legitimate reactions or good conversation. “Did you know he drives a BMW?” “Did you hear that his house is all paid for?” “I think he earns more money than his friends.” It all sounds extremely shallow. And of course it’s a neverending struggle. Someone will always be more successful than you.

This, compounded with financial stresses, societal expectations, relationship problems, and a negative attitude towards seeking mental help, no wonder the suicide rate is so high in the country.

Suicide is like a constant grim specter that haunts the country. It was shocking last night, and I feel like it won’t be the first time I’ll be hearing about similar deaths or attempts in the future. Get some help, everyone. Talk to someone. And be happy with what you have. There’s a heaven and a star for you.

May 21


NFTs are frauds. They’re objects of value just as much as tamagotchis are pets. One of the red flags that caught my attention weeks ago when NFTs were hyped up in the media was that anyone can make an NFT about anything, but blockchain technology will make that assignation to that “thing” unique and that rarity will create value. But what is rarity if it doesn’t really have any practical consequences the way rarity actually works in real life? There were only 69 Faberge eggs created by the House of Faberge. Only 57 of those meticulously jeweled eggs survive today. Perhaps they can be reproduced and mass manufactured, but there is inherent value in the originals.

Acquiring a replica of the originals would also require some effort. A person does not just search for Faberge eggs on Google and immediately have a copy of it. NFTs however, their rarity only exists among NFTs. Being mostly blockchain representation of digital art, their digital art counterpart can still be downloaded from the Internet. There is often no real rarity. This is why NFT speculators burned a Banksy after assigning an NFT to it, to create actual rarity. Stupidly however, I think they just destroyed an actual valuable work of art whose image is available freely online. Maybe I’ll download an image of it and create an NFT of it as well. It won’t be tied to original that was destroyed, but it would also be an NFT that didn’t destroy a Banksy.

Then I see this piece of news from the Art Newspaper: Basquiat NFT withdrawn from auction after artist’s estate intervenes. It read, “no license or rights were convened to the seller.” Now, the seller of the NFT claims that they have proof of purchase and payment to substantiate the authenticity of the ownership, and that the buyer would be free to destroy the original. However, the estate of the artist disputed the claim and the auction was halted. The seller explained, “while blockchain transactions are widely considered a trusted source of authentification and provenance, best copyright practices have yet to evolve for the digital economy.” I don’t know. To me, it sounds like two copyright schemes are at work, and the ultimate real world copyright holders seems to have won in this case. Now, proponents of NFTs claim that the technology will help authenticate works, but I think it just creates just as many problems as it claims to solve. There may be poorly reproduced versions of Basquiat’s work produced and sold from China, but what’s stopping anyone from making equally fraudulent NFTs of Basquiat’s work? In fact, one of the things that was frequently mentioned when NFTs were being hyped is that the author of the original work doesn’t have to be the author of the NFTs. The NFTs are their own thing. The assignation to its physical counterpart is a legal fiction that all parties must agree to in order to create value for the intangible ones and zeroes.

An NFT of the Mona Lisa will never be as valuable as the real one. It certainly won’t be as satisfying staring at it on a wall than studying it on a monitor. When they destroyed a Banksy and said that they “transformed it” to an NFT. They destroyed something of value and now collectively decided that the destroyed value is now transferred to the NFT. Now, some might be willing to join in on that delusion, but I believe many more would see it as foolishness. Going back to my initial comparison, this would be like me killing a dog and claiming that it has now transformed into my tamagotchi.

And just look at the trouble the sellers of Basquiat have regarding the work’s provenance. This is just based on two competing claims which I imagine would appear equally credible to most people if not one of the sides weren’t the artist’s estate. Imagine the headache of having two or more competing NFTs claiming to be the real representation of an art piece. Now, of course, people would say that blockchain technology would prevent this confusion from happening, along with a long-winded explanation. But there’s also a long-winded explanation as to how copyright laws would prevent problems like the Basquiat NFT confusion from happening, and yet here we are.

This all concerns works with real world counterparts, where actual physical ownership and copyrights seem to trump NFT logic. I think it would be even more challenging to convince people of the long lasting value of purely digital works as NFTs. You have a copy of a normally replicable file, only that it cannot be truly replicated, with no other discernible difference from other copies except for the fact that there is some value assigned to it by crypto speculators. This, in a world were people download, copy, and pirate media and computer programs all of the time. I don’t think this will catch on. Looking at several think pieces, I’m not alone on this. The craze seems to be powered more by speculators rather than enthusiasts, and now, things appears to be winding down, with the average price of NFTs going down to a quarter of its peak in February. This could be an effect of the flood on the market, but one can also not ignore the current drop in NFT sales.


Now, I am just as guilty as writing on a platform that no one reads, but I’m just amazed at how incomprehensible the words of Donald Trump are on his blog. He either writes long “tweets” or creates an unreadable wall of text. Seriously, the man cannot write paragraphs! Somebody help him; I understand why many of his supporters don’t visit his blog. 

June 2


It’s really time for the Olympics to get cancelled. It’s time. We all can see the Olympics for what they are. They are a company interested in their own profits. They’re not about sports, camaraderie, or triumph over adversity. The sports and the athletes are just a secondary concern. What the IOC values more is licensing, advertising, and broadcasting the games.

The games have been slowly showing its hand in the past few Olympic games. A couple of years after the games were held in Beijing, people noted the abandoned structures that were hastily built for the games. Then people started questioning whether it truly is worth it to host the Olympics, especially when the money used for infrastructure could be used for so many other things. This was especially true when the Olympics were held in Rio. Last year, the Olympic park was closed due to safety concerns. Hosting the Olympics means spending money on infrastructure that would never be recovered, infrastructure that has a high probability of not being maintained after the games. But yeah, the countries/cities are losing money, but someone is getting rich out of all of the construction and other Olympics-related logistics.


As for the sport, Sochi Olympics has demonstrated that widespread cheating can occur with very little consequences to the athletes. After Russia was caught having a national doping program, they barely suffered any consequences for it, and many of their athletes were later allowed to compete under no flags. Pointless.

And now Tokyo, despite rising coronavirus cases, insists that the city will continue to host the games as scheduled. There will be no spectators, and athletes will not be required to get the vaccine, but will however be required to sign a waiver that they risk illness and death by competing in the city. Why is the UN allowing this? This is akin to South Korea’s old law of revoking foreigner’s visas should they learn they are HIV positive. What if they caught the virus in South Korea? (Instead of having brought the virus into the country) Isn’t that not their fault fully but also the fault of the environment they are in? The UN saw it as discrimination as well as a backwards policy that unfairly treats visitors to the country. In Japan, what if the athletes catch covid in the country and dies? Doesn’t the country or the IOC have any responsibility for it? Doesn’t this shift the blame for catching diseases fully on the visitors and not the country the same way South Korea did before with HIV?

Inviting a host of people from countries all over the world could potentially turn Tokyo into a hotbed for the pandemic and naturally, many of the people in Tokyo are against it. Around 80% of people in a recent survey wanted to have the games cancelled altogether. So the games aren’t really for the benefit of the city either. They don’t want to risk dying from covid should the worst happen as a result of thousands of athletes visiting. Even a group of Japanese medical professionals want the game cancelled. Japanese cities are not doing well with infections and vaccinations. As much as some people are saying that Tokyo has handled the pandemic well. They truly haven’t. They came into the pandemic with so much hubris, even allowing people to go out cherry blossom viewing in spring 2020. And now Americans are officially warning people not to visit the country for the Olympics.

As much as I love Japan, I can’t stand the conservative Japanese government. The Olympics has a policy of not allowing politics to be part of the games, and yet recently, Tokyo has been using a map that shows Dokdo, a Korean island, as part of Japanese territory. This revisionist claim is just par for the course for the Japanese government in the past couple of years. They have denied wartime atrocities and downplayed claims of sexual exploitation. South Koreans are understandably unhappy about the recent Dokdo fiasco and many are pushing to boycott the Olympics altogether.

I believe this push to have the Olympics in Tokyo this summer no matter what is simply companies trying to make good on their investments. I’m sure contractors and other beneficiaries to the Olympics, be it the Japanese government side, the corporate side, or the IOC, who were disappointed last year are still hoping that they can make money off of the event. And it truly doesn’t matter whether the events have people watching them on the ground. What truly matters is how many people will be watching the games on television and online. As for me, I think I’ll be watching better shows on Netflix instead. I can just read about whoever won whatever event on Twitter or Reddit.