Welcome to Cafe Anxiety Drawing Club International.
Nothing to be anxious about.
This is the world’s first and most introverted drawing club of all Via Instant-Messages —the 21st century’s exchange of great minds.
This is not your neighbor’s ordinary drawing club but an intense social experiment of image flow algorithm of humane attention and care.
Those who accepted my absurdly romantic invitation have entered this metaphorical café. (in a mobile group chat, aka i-message)
There we share our moods, clues, and anecdotes using only our drawings and other forms of images, virtually every day, without any verbal interaction.
These members are expected to get to know one another’s drawing marks and personhood over a given period of time.
The rule is simple: to share a drawing in our café chat, one must refer to someone else’s drawings/ images in the current thread with a microscopic observation regarding:
1. the resemblance of appearances
2. narrative thread
any other unarticulatable connections.
(that computers can't)
Easy glance and clicking “Like” are prohibited in our café.
(because this is not “mini-Instagram.”)
One shall respond with his/her own image instead. (to show one's appreciation)
I believe that looking at another’s images in detail as a prerequisite to sharing one’s own art is a form of care and affection that we need in our current political climate in the artistic community.
As we entered this place tonight,
we are asked;
"What's Love Got to Do with It?"
This project is my answer to this big question.
In recent years, I not only lost my interest/ability to paint my own images due to trauma from an eye surgery but as an obvious result of it, I poorly appreciated and passively overlooked images that others created.
To sabotage my bad habit, I initiated this drawing club as my manifesto of how I will never go back to the apathetic past: my brand-new statement of how I will cultivate kind and keen observation as a collective daily practice & rescue with a group of artists that I believe in. (a care group disguised as a drawing club.)
Beyond drawings, we can be each other’s collective witness spread in the world in our given time together, Because I believe drawing is close to one's heart and moving image of each other's mind that I cherish.
Sustainable mutual inspiration,
Resolving daily isolation.
The first week of confusion and excitement, what was noticeable the first was that participants tend to behave just like how we are on Instagram or other social media:
Clicking “likes” as our default mode of showing appreciation to the images we see.
(Do colorful heart emojis carry deeper sincerity?)
Unfortunately, this appeared to be how our eyes & minds are tamed: we passively receive images in a sequence that social media’s user flow-based algorithm.
And we show our easy glance and simple “likes” as appreciation, even to those images from our friends and people of our dear interest & care.
The first Time out.
I had to clarify that we’re experimenting something entirely different than our default mode of image reading & responding habits.
And I asked the participants:
“Is it possible for us to outsmart the default algorithm—based on tracking data, user flow, and image analysis that social media has trapped us with?
Could we possibly make our own algorithm of image flow humanly—of care, telepathic moments, and attention with our own marks, drawings, and images? I wonder if it is due to our ‘convenient passivity’ to blame if we’re doomed to fail.
And I will gladly take any blame if we are defeated by boredom."
And the artists who, again, accepted my absurd insist continued this project with me.
(Some dropped out eventually but most of us didn't give up)
That was our humble beginning.
In Café Anxiety,
We’re drawing athletes— image-wrestlers. This can be a Tinder for drawings to meet (i.e., you can respond or skip your turn for someone else to respond), and we’re comrade-muses in each other's pockets.
Since the launch, myself and the members slowly but surely have created our own image interlocking algorithm and our own "unspoken" culture —one even better than I envisioned in my invitation statement.
Gut health, gut instinct.
Other miscellaneous routines/features in our cafe:
1. There are 6+ different language speakers among the current participants. Without any verbal interaction, (besides my announcement) our images flow organically: built and demolished like a Babel tower, but multiple times a day.
I suggested to be clever to find unique ways to avoid contaminating the thread with written texts; Handwriting or screenshot can be options if needed, but drawings can speak more than words can do.
2. Most participants do not know each other. (but now some are familiar with each other's drawing qualities)
3. I send a piece of music from my studio
to set the mood each day.
8:01 AM EST during Chapter One.
Currently only via vibes.
4. Café is closed for 48 hours weekly:
A (drawing) Muscle Break.
5. There are many rules I have suggested to overcome our time zone differences (9 different time zones, ever updating);
the one most successfully adapted rule is “summon the image that you missed”
This helped the members to bring back images that passed while each side of the world’s asleep. (screenshot)
Also, I believe every drawing is worthy to look multiple times.
7. Participants must turn OFF the new message alert from chat so that it doesn’t interfere with their days.
I asked the participants to be a cool "Regular" at the cafe.
8. When I introduce a new member to existing members, the new member enters the cafe with:
(1) an image represents themselves
(2) name to be saved
(3) current location.
In our café, members do not say,
“hello, welcome” or any conventional greetings but just welcome the newcomer with our famous "exquisite" image responses.
9. There are regular surveys and questionnaires to resolve difficulties that were experienced by members.
the questions in my surveys often are notorious. but the responses I got are thoughtful and sincere, that kept us going and growing.
With the works we originally shared in our mobile chat, we made our first exhibition in New York last summer and more international exhibitions and publication to come.
It seemed virtual, however this is a real thing.
I assume now some of you may want to join this club, but here I suggest to take my idea and expand your world and practice.
Create your own drawing club like mine to help your daily isolation with the people that you believe in their possibilities.
If you want to make your own
SUB-Café Anxiety, I have some advice.
Despite the name, I advise don’t actually invite who are too ‘anxious,’
because the drawing marathon 24/7 with strangers can trigger real anxiety.
Find CORE members who are image-encyclopedias:
Recruit extraordinary drawers who have drawn every possible thing in the world (who has a solid stack of cards to play)
Recruit those not only good artists but have generous hearts, genuinely enjoy
being a part of your drawing club.
Recruit a knowledgeable analyzer to have in-depth image reading for your group's image archives.
No Dressed Man on the Nude Beach.
Make sure your group has no spectator.
If you ever start your drawing club like mine, make sure your participants know it's a "potluck" that everyone brings their best dishes to the table.
Sure, sometimes food sucks, especially when there is no spoken theme, maybe there are three pies that are all sucks. However, you can be the "heroic ice cream" of the night.
We've surely seen great dinners made in our cafe anxiety table with our collective effort. Unexpected, multicultural and very fun dinner.
Tonight, something in the air brought us here and maybe, we're standing on a near latitude of our thought wavelength.
As now you know I love taking risks, I am gambling on our telepathy with the drawings you brought. Will the roulette align?
Café Anxiety is taking a table here tonight and you're a part of it.
Drawing "Tinder" tonight?
You tell me, what's Love got to do with it.