When the pandemic hit, we began gathering around the hearths of our screens, for news, or in solidarity with friends and family, for the cold solace of a cocktail-hour booze-Zoom, even for preschool, the grid of domestic scenes and small, hopeful faces meant to relieve us of our isolation, somehow only succeeding in reinforcing it. (Even those of us who tend naturally toward solitary endeavors find ourselves running low on interiority these days.)
We don’t know yet what life will look like after we emerge from our Zoom grids, but surely this time has already changed us in all kinds of ways we can’t see yet. The Rona is anything but distant and selective: None of us really has the luxury of opting out, of just not thinking about it. The 2020 pandemic will change the way we see art forever, too, and artists and writers have already begun doing the work of illuminating new shifts and losses, documenting the small kindnesses and cruelties, the large failures of leadership, technology and society.
Under normal circumstances, illness is a largely private event; even a common disease is suffered individually. But a pandemic isolates us collectively, as the grid illustrates almost too perfectly; we aren’t alone in our loneliness. When we Zoom, we “connect” along our metaphoric edges. We’ve existed in such grids for a while without really acknowledging it, one might argue, imprisoned in our small geometries of perspective. Grid life seems all too easy a metaphor for a society stripped bare, exposed for what it has become. But that’s the thing about the grid; live with it long enough and one forgets it’s there, until the next catastrophe.
Thank you M.OGrady