Blog as art

I have a link over there on the right to a couple of wonderful blogs, namely 2dgoggles and Mustard Plaster (I found the latter thanks to the former’s creator) . Both show, in different ways, the creative uses to which the personal blog can be devoted. 2dgoggles is the gorgeous-to-look-at-and-fascinating-to-know webtoon devoted to VERY fictional yet superbly researched adventures of two real-life English Victorian mathematical geniuses: Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first design for a powered computing machine, and Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Byron and inventor of programming.

They did like each other and work together in RL, but Sydney Padua, the young female animator/cartoonist who is perpetrating 2dG, has extruded Real Life forward, or maybe sideways, into a satirical, history-juggling and tech-loving fantasy where the dynamic digital duo are – um, sort of – crime fighters and adventurers. So far they have confronted giant robots, a runaway Economic Model that threatens to destabilize the British Empire, a fiendish underground cartel of street musicians, and the mind-sapping drug of Romantic Poetry. Sydney researches, writes and draws it all in her spare time, supplies copious footnotes and links to great source materials, videos, etc., her devoted commenters lap it up – and the whole thing is huge FUN. Also Art.

Her friend and fellow Londoner “Miss Hathorne” is the mother of Mustard Plaster, an exceedingly different thing: the careful yet free spirited blog of a Smallholder. A smallholder is the owner or renter of a small property for farming purposes. Misshathorne’s piece of heaven is in far southeast Greater London; from a nearby Victorian cemetery you can see the dome of St. Paul’s in the far distance, on a clear day.

She cultivates, she studies nature, she starts her own seeds and onion sets, she cossets hens, she trolls tastefully through the ‘net and (I suspect) through actual libraries for splendid oddities about plants, beasts, and people past and present. One of the photos on her site shows a dignified looking man with a full beard that apparently is composed entirely of live honeybees. She takes lovely photos of her potatoes and radishes and the other fruits of the English soil and her labor. She creates weather charts. She writes beautifully. I believe that in her non-farming hours she is a professional artist or designer of some type.

Following another link from the esteemed Sydney, I found myself this darkening afternoon at the very end of February, at, the blog of an anonymous Briton (sex  not revealed or germane)  who lives in Spitalfields in London, and has pledged to write ten thousand posts, or “stories”, more or less regarding life in that ancient and colorful part of the East End, one per day. “The gentle author” is also a photographer, and the daily, beautifully written tales,  are illustrated by his/her clear, evocative images. An individual post may be a full essay on an historical event, on the life of a local resident further enriched with their own family photos, a meditation on the personality of the author’s cat, on the natural life of a local cemetery, on the ghostliness of a Midwinter’s night, on the human presences revealed in Victorian street photographs. It’s investigative, and elegaic.

These people are in a different country from what I’d gotten accustomed to thinking of as “bloggers” – my stereotype being slanted to an extent by the habit I formed early on of following a small group of leftie US political blogs. The blog, however, is so loose a form that it can be made into just about anything that involves images, thoughts and words that can be conceived. The three mentioned here are producing ongoing shared art, gratia, as the old saying goes, artis.

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