Diving deep into the web’s stream of endless ephemera.
At the end of a long weekend with my family, there came a point when my sister snapped and instructed me to “stop saying the word ‘Tumblr’!” She was right. I had been saying it a lot — mostly to annoy my grownup and successful sibling with this new symptom of my arrested, dilettante lifestyle.
As a painter, I come across endless images and websites that I find inspiring, so I started using Tumblr as a personal tool, a private picture diary of things I had found and wanted to keep for later. I used to cut things out and paste them in books, but now I had my own endless string of live-linky goodness. I found that I finally had a place to put my cell phone pictures of spotted oddities from the streets of New York. Then I was all about photosets, pairing up disparate images and delighting in their similarities.
I was so impressed with myself as a visual DJ that I decided that having a private Tumblr was zero fun, so I joined the great stream. I squeal with delight at every new reblog and follower. I scan and post old books and comics. Everything I clap eyes on becomes fodder for my insatiable Tumblr hungr. And no amount of followed blogs is enough for me.
At my boring desk job, I refresh all day, gobbling down pictures of puffy stickers, celebrities with googly eyes, anthropomorphic taco people, Weeki Wachee mermaid postcards… I like to sit on the couch Tumblrng while watching TV and inform my husband about all the random nonsense I’m scrolling through: “Oooh, Bowie. More Bowie, ’80s stereo ad, a picture of thousands of Nintendo Games, Bill Cosby’s Picture Pages theme song, naked lady, Jim Lee Wolverine, naked lady, Bowie…” The sense of random discovery and openness of feeling like anything could pop up in front of your eyes reminds me of the joys of flipping cable channels or watching an unlabeled VHS tape.
Though truly the meatiness of Tumblr is found in the carefully curated blogs, like “Animation Smears,” which is a collection of the beautifully abstract liminal images you might see when pausing a cartoon character in mid-movement. I also love the self-explanatory “Awesome People Hanging Out Together,” “What Should We Call Me” for .gif jokes, and “DisneyToonLand” for excellent obscure screencaps.
I almost never read any blocks of text or watch videos. I’m just there for the pictures. I follow a few comedians, but mostly I’m looking for a window into the internal visual explorations of strangers. I follow artists who post their work as well as share what influences them.
My best, shiniest Tumblr moment came when I saw one of my own paintings on a blog I like that posts pictures of sexy sci-fi babes. Unattributed, of course, but that doesn’t bother me. I was thrilled that my work had been tossed into the sea and resurfaced on its own.
To follow me on Tumblr, look for the Tricky Sphinx at meganxburns.tumblr.com.