Tag Archives: alienation

Trauma by Facebook


I’ve been traumatized in a million ways by Facebook.  By everyone I know.

In small ways.  In a cumulative way.  They add up.

Most recently, a friend posted a photo of a dead cat in a gutter.  The “why” does not matter.

It was an intelligent, even poetic post.  But . . . I did not know that it was “there”, in the ether, waiting to sicken, deaden, and depress me.

There was no warning.  It was just there.  It was just there in a way that sick images did not occur unexpectedly and traumatically in ad breaks during “Green Acres” when I was 10 years old in 1967.

Another recent trauma:  I watched a video of four Chinese workers being accidentally electrocuted.  Again, it doesn’t matter how I got sucked into watching it.  But there it was.

Congratulate me.  Finally, I know what “electrocution” looks like.


I can’t imagine what happens to kids when they see these things, whether on purpose or unintentionally.  I can’t imagine what these things would have done to me – or to you – at ten years old.  I do know what having my dog, Mischka, run over and killed in front of me when I was ten was like, on Lay/Leigh Street in Canton, NY.  I’d love to thank Facebook over and over again for dredging that PTSD back up thanks to a random acquaintance seeking attention.

And remember, these Random Attention Seeking Units, RASUs for short, are the people we know.

Some of them are truly malignant creatures.

They’re easily taken care of.  Unfriend them.  Unfollow them.

But what do you do about the others?  What do you do about the RASUs who are . . . just like you and I are?

I have dreams and nightmares about Facebook, and I am far from a power user.


HOTEL BY A RAILYARD, Edward Hopper 1952, via WikiArt

During my nap yesterday, I dreamed that I was in a darkened room looking out a window toward a window of a darkened room in the house next door.  I could dimly see a woman standing at that window, looking at me.  It was like a Hopper painting.  Me looking at her.  Her looking at me.  Seeing nothing.  Dimly.  More imagination than reality.

This is our age.  Voyeurs of nothingness.

CAPE COD MORNING, Edward Hopper 1950, via Smithsonian

The Strange Case of Charles Sheeler

Was photographer and painter Charles Sheeler a fan of the machine age, or did he hate it?

GOLDEN GATE Charles Sheeler  1955, Metropolitan Museum of Art

At first glance, Sheeler’s work looks like a celebration of all things modern and shiny.  How can that not be the case when you look at something like STEEL CROTON from 1953:

STEEL CROTON Charles Sheeler 1953, source unknown

Which, btw, was probably a distant influence on my own even more abstract work, STRUCTURE from 2013:

STRUCTURE Gregory Fedchak 2013  http://www.greggfedchak.com

Wanda Corn pretty much makes the case for the straightforwardness of Sheeler’s art in her book THE GREAT AMERICAN THING:  Modern Art and National Identity, 1915-1935.  To be honest, I think Corn is correct.  On a gut level, I think Sheeler is in love with all things modern and mechanical.

But . . . then things get darker.  In his VIEW OF NEW YORK from 1931, we are looking out from a very mechanical place, a typesetting shop, and through an open window seeing clouds, clouds of freedom from . . . the mechanical, the technological, the 9 to 5.

1931 Charles Sheeler (American artist, 1883-1965) View of New York, 1931

Karen Lucic talks about Sheeler’s ambiguous feelings about modernity and the changing scene of early and mid-20th century America in her book CHARLES SHEELER AND THE CULT OF THE MACHINE.  Like most people, he felt a tug toward the traditional, and often painted or photographed early American objects and architecture.  Also like most people, he was comfortable with his powerful new cars and the financial rewards of 20th century life.  He could go either way.

Mark Rawlinson, in his CHARLES SHEELER:  Modernism, Precisionism and the Borders of Abstraction, goes all the way to the extreme and makes the argument that Sheeler may  have been a covert critic of the machine age that he lived in.

Little things in his work are “wrong” in that objects/subjects are inaccurately portrayed in terms of lines, shadows, and perspective.  Everything is odd or edgy, “not right” as in a “Twilight Zone” episode.  But it’s subtle.

Look at STEEL CROTON and GOLDEN GATE.  wtf?  It’s so precise, so realistic, and yet . . . so wrong.  Which is, of course, why Rawlinson titles his book ” . . . and the Borders of Abstraction”.


I know how I feel about technology in my painting, STRUCTURE.  Tech is broken, shadowy, incomplete, weak, sketchy, dangerous, hidden, evil, ironic.

As I write this, my wi-fi has gone out several times, thwarting the saving of my work.  I don’t know why.  Neither does AT&T or Apple.  I live with it.  My work could die at any moment, for no good reason except that I am working with high tech.

I no longer feel wonder toward tech.  I feel a deep sense of alienation.

We aren’t sure exactly how Sheeler felt.  I’m sure he felt good/bad/ambiguous, but, back in that more optimistic time of the 1939 World’s Fair, it’s the good that (mostly) shines through.