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  • Writer's pictureLuca Cusolito

In Search of the Quantified Self: A Create-In-Public Project

You know how you start to work on an art project and it just keeps growing?

That’s pretty much how I have felt since I started conceptualizing a project dubbed A Sunshine State around 2017 with a stack of personal journals and what felt like clouds upon clouds of digital detritus from the time my life started to move from pen on paper into the digital space.

This week I’m percolating on…

The Quantified Self(ie)

#CreateInPublic vs. #WorkInProgress

Preserving creative legacy

Productivity tracking tools/apps

Hard Kombucha + Hair Frosting

Documentation + Self-Tracking

Grants + financing for artists/creatives/creators

The Little Autofic That Can, Almost, Would

The concept for A Sunshine State was going to be semi-autobiographical and explore the notion of home and homecoming.  Personal evolution.  Creative evolution. 

The humor of growing up in South Florida, then spending adult life in the NYC area, and then returning to Broward County as a bonafide Millennial snowbird, Instagram-smug and seeking high adventure.

The highly-stylized vision of my future book’s cover art compelled me to keep moving forward on the uncomfortable task of sifting through my memories from Y2K, both in offline and online forums. 

Not tremendously glamourous, by any means.

I thought haikus were pretty funny there for a minute, so I got to sift through inside jokes of that variety for a moment in my personal history.

There are definitive patterns and themes in how I began to create and lifelog as technology evolved, and that’s been pretty fascinating to observe with all the data points I’ve kept on myself for over two decades.  

And if you know where to pull the thread on your own personal project, the self-discovery process gets more intriguing with time and more data.

Analog Childhood, Digital Adulthood

My ability to hold on to memories and half-baked ideas digitally and analog is both a blessing and a curse.

I am a sentimental creative that was tweenaged when the Internet and AOL found its way into homes.  And my digital self overrunneth. 

I began actively tracking my technology and self-data where possible, especially as relates to work/creative productivity most notably around 2015.

I was equipped with a FitBit ahead of a major arts program that I was heading up, and my step-count was insane.  My work hours were insane.  My sleep schedule was bananas.  My Donna Karen Sport heels were beat to shit by the end of the three-ish month project cycle. 

I didn’t necessarily require data to substantiate what my body (and devices and shoe soles) went through every time I did this work, but having quantifiable data to substitute your time and effort is always something to behold.

Data collected during periods of high production and creativity tell a different story than the carefully polished appearance that any social media post or promotional campaign told.

Hustle culture was brutal for a great deal of us creating online and off in a not-too-distant past.

Work data is firmly affixed to much of the professional success I’ve enjoyed, as many of the hours spent in front of a screen and on foot have been readily collected since the technology became available to me.

It feels therapeutic to examine how I’ve worked and created in times of disruption throughout my creative life with the data I have available, but there’s a lot of ugly numbers in there.

I intend to take what I’ve learned over the last decade or so to create a better independent work-life balance for the quickly-approaching voyage into my 40s.

My intentions and what actually happens are often two very different things, and documentation has become increasingly more precious to me to pick up and revisit ideas.

Immersive memories On Walls

I started getting more interested in virtual reality and augmented art spaces somewhere around 2018.  I began messing with Unity and Facebook (Now Meta) SparkAR.

It would be a book, but better.

Soon the autofic was moving into augmented reality.

I was certain this was the form my creative expression was taking, and I had vignettes drafted and verified against my sophomoric trials and tribulations from journals past.

The scene was cast against an early 2000s South Florida landscape and evolved into a love story with Jersey City.

I began to plan a public art project across two states.  Yes, an augmented reality art project was a fantastic container for my memories. 

Creating large-scale digital projections and an immersive environment was clearly the next creative iteration of this work.

Oh, Wait, Here  Comes 2020

My snowbird residence in Pompano Beach, rented with the intention of building out A Sunshine State soon became declared my South Florida Quarantine Hut where I rode out 2020 ocean adjacent while the beaches were closed.

A beloved family member’s health sharply declined about a month before the first lockdown, and I actively became involved in their care as the Pandemic dragged on.

Project paused. Family mode on. A Sunshine State was getting darker by the month.

Disruption is bittersweet to my creative process, and more painful than productive if not harnessed in the right mindset.

I’m one of those Type A for days people and breaking myself out of rigid expectation is still an ongoing challenge that threatens my productivity and mood on anything I work on.

Well, thanks, data. 

Learning to roll with the punches felt a whole lot like just getting beat up.

I struggled with not being able to get my art studio set back up the way I wanted, not making art with my usual materials, not having time to write code for my own work, and being too burnt out to put pen to paper.

Disruption makes NEW SOLUTIONS (if you want it)

Anything can be hectic if you want it to be.  Even I know that.

The process of creativity has never has evaded me in the midst of disruption, even if my works were never made public for outside consumption. 

At times, creativity felt forced and unwelcome, like a muscle that I had to reluctantly exercise to keep taut. 

The city, my muse, far away North, and my friends and their fashion and loud voices so many miles away left artwork a solitary and uninspired practice.

The Pandemic sucked. Caregiving was an honored but emotionally difficult task.

I had to learn to approach each day determined to discern the good things from each moment and draw from past moments of resiliency to keep on creating. I felt both grateful and betrayed in my process at most moments.

Being creative is a battle in the New Normal when “creator” is now job title. 

Documentation was instrumental in being my own memory bank, for better or for worse, as I can quickly reference where I was at in different cycles of my life, technology, and productivity. Revisiting the past has greatly helped me move forward.

My process, artwork mediums, and energy around the creation process have certainly been refined and redefined over the years and particularly in this New Iteration of the world.

I’m sure yours have, too.  Tell me here and I’ll put together a string of stories to share on social soon.

Let’s Overthink it

My time in social media absence has been spent doing stuff that 2015 Luca and her broken shoes would walk away from, fast:

– Cultivating and refining my mindset and strategy

– Taking tapas-sized, measurable steps to forge forward with my side-quest/backburner projects

– Getting equipped with the latest self-tracking tools to collect data points and publicly lifelog 

I’ll be fleshing out what the data points and tech stack are going to be publicly dissected as we move towards March 17, 2022.

The Quantified Self(ie)

I intend to document to the hilt over the next twelve months to commemorate the creative work performed in the last year of my 30s and maybe carve out some fun stuff in there.

I lost a really great guy in the midst of all of this, and I know he would want me to make happy memories outside of my computer screen. He sure knew how to have fun, and I could learn to take a page from my Pop-Pop.

I intend to monetize content attached to this project and utilize a percentage of ad revenue to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of my grandfather.

Project budget and donations are being documented as part of this project, as well.

Want to see where this goes?

Yeah, I am as well!  Creating in public kinda freaks me out.

You just being here reading this means a lot, even if you are just rubbernecking my digital existence.  No purchase necessary!

I love talking data, data privacy, keywords, buzzwords, trends, and data fetishism.

And I want to use my powers for good, not data marketing evils.

Should you want to watch the behind-the-scenes of my Quantified Self project and its monetization, I am sharing paid members content via Patreon and in a private Discord channel.

Why this may be of interest to you:

  1. I like discussing data marketing, digital advertising, and ethical marketing standards

  2. We are big-time talking data privacy and emerging technologies (Hello, Meta)

  3. You can watch and learn how to lifelog using tools/apps you may already have

  4. How to create a legacy project around a parent/grandparent/yourself

  5. Get new ideas on how to dig deep into biographical work when working solo

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#lifelogging #microgeneration #Biohacking #SmallTech #Patreon #createinpublic #quantifiedself #creatorintellectualproperty #Xennial #selftracking #createinpublic

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