Symbolatry: A Digital Portfolio

Welcome to the Atelier of Craig Duckett

Symbolatry is the HTML-based "atelier" (studio, workshop) of Craig Duckett, a graphic artist and technical engineer who started crafting art before there were programs like Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, and Illustrator. Craig would produce images the old-fashioned way, with paper and ink, paint and brushes, pens and pencils. Today, all that has changed. In the 21st century, art can now be created and produced in a virtual environment, in a digital world devoid of camelhair refinery or pastels or pigments. Art, in every sense of the word, has become artifice, a synthetic and digitalized ideation of the mind, unfolding in virtual reality, traveling upon a network woven through binary abstraction. The Matrix has become our museum and our gallery, our library and theater, a song without voice and a picture without paint.

When the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning.

— Jean Baudrillard (1929 - 2007)

Although Craig has been employed in the computer and web industries for over fifteen years, he is not your typical techno-geek. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Humanities from California State University Dominguez Hills (emphasis on Literature, Philosophy, History, and Art), as well as Bachelor degrees in English and Philosophy, both from the University of Washington.

For many years Craig was something of a factotum. He has worked as a chef, a waiter, a bartender, appeared in national television commercials, and has produced original artwork and murals for Seattle-area businesses. When he has time he also writes a little fiction (see Writing).

Craig is also a technical writer, industrial designer, technical instructor, trainer, and software test engineer. He's produced courseware, e-Learning software, and online testing for a technical school in Bellevue, WA. He has also written white papers for Intel and Microsoft, and taught classes in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Software Testing, Web Testing, Visual Basic, PC Hardware and Troubleshooting, Introduction to Networking, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop.

Some of the Tools Craig Knows and Uses

Perception is Reality

Take a minute to scan your surroundings. Are you in a familiar place or somewhere new? Stop reading this, and just look around you. Pick out an object, maybe something you hadn’t noticed before, and focus your attention on it. If you really focus, it’ll get brighter and more “real” than it was when it was just an unnoticed piece of the background noise of your life. Now, try to view your surroundings from the point of the object. Some people can do this with no effort, and for others, it takes some concentration. Depending on how adept you are at focusing your concentration, you may notice a slight shift in your perceptiona weird jump in realty, where you are suddenly viewing the world from a different perspective.

Did it work? Whether you noticed anything or not, your perception did change, albeit for an instant. It’s important to be conscious of your perception, because if you’re not, someone else will create it for you.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

— Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Trick the Eye

Things aren’t always what they seem. Marketers and magicians rely on this fact to make you see thingsthe way they want you too see them. Artists do too.

You may have seen Julian Beever’s amazing pavement drawings. He utilizes the Trompe l’oeil technique, which means “trick the eye” in French. He uses his drawing stills to create a perception. Like an optical illusion, our mind attempts to fill in the details of something it either thinks it already knows, or doesn’t quite understand. This works out fine, when that’s the intention - momentarily letting our world be shaped for fun. But wandering through life, letting others create your perceptions, can make for a very unfulfilling life.

Art, whose honesty must work through artifice, cannot avoid cheating truth.

— Adrienne Rich (1929 - )

Change Your Story, Your Perception, Your Life

We all get caught up in our stories. Most of us think we are our stories. It’s when those stories take on a life of their own, and that life isn’t the one we want, that things start to suck.

Think about the story you’re living right now. Who wrote it? Did you consciously decide to create the reality you’re living now, or was it mainly shaped by society, your parents, church, friends, spouse, school, or the media? If you don’t like the story your living, then change the perception. Envision how you’d write the next chapter of your story. Better yet, actually sit down and write it. Focus your perception on creating a new reality, one where you are in charge of the story. Take back the job as screenwriter and director, and stop just being an actor.

Human kind / Cannot bear very much reality.

— T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

Everything begins with a decisiondecide now to be in charge of your own perception of reality. Because if you don’t, there are plenty of folks whose sole purpose in life is to craft that perception for you. Do you trust them to have your best interest in mind?

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Featured Examples/Samples/Links