PORTLAND, OREGON | MONDAY 10:00 AM
Human connection appears to be more prevalent than ever today. All it takes is a healthy Wi-Fi connection and a screen to instantaneously come face-to-face with a loved one who resides on the other side of the world. Human connection has reached a global scale, but as the breadth of our interaction increases the proximity of what we care about diminishes.
It’s not uncommon to see a Portlander walking down the street fixated on a video-call. Earphones in, focus gazed on a person hundreds of thousands of miles away. They are just present enough to realize that they need to take a left on Glisan to reach their bus stop. The dozens of homeless and transient individuals camped out on the sidewalk are nothing more than extras in the background of the movie they call their life.
The more we focus our attention on events and people we can only visualize through a screen, the more we miss out on everyday life. Too many of us use our phone as a tool to forget what lies in front of us and instead curate a reality of our own choosing.
Take advantage of the opportunity to be present.
I really enjoy gravity, a platform you have created that is dedicated to sharing stories. There are a lot of conversations compiled into one website. What inspired you to create that?
MARQUIS: I wanted to make [gravity] more streamlined for phones. Technology is going to grow more and more everyday, so with gravity I want to get people to read. Because, you know, it’s in print. It’s so easy to make a video-series or a straight photography series. Most people aren’t really into reading books or anything like that anymore. Most people don’t even read full articles. In [creating gravity] I have to do it in a way that is accessible and that is also not too much for the regular person today. [I wanted to] make something that is a simple concept for a more complex idea.
Where have you learned the most useful information that has benefitted you in real life? Was it in school or in the trials of life?
MARQUIS: I would say it’s half and half, because of what I studied [in college]. A lot of people discredit sociology as the major that football players get or just random people get because they aren’t trying to finish school anyway, but you learn so much about things that are going on today or things that could happen tomorrow. You learn about things that are happening in other countries that you would never have been privy to. A lot of people that go outside just let things pass by instead of being present. In Portland you can go out and pass fifty homeless people, but you could also go out and pass those same people and hear their story or talk to them or observe what’s going on. You know, [find out] what forces could have made them be in their predicament. So, it’s half and half. I learn so much just going outside, but then I’ve learned so many vocabulary words and concepts that I would never have been able to dive into just being outside.
We have shared ideas together through the medium of a podcast before. What is your preferred method of expressing ideas? Would it be via spoken word or a written medium?
MARQUIS: See, it’s different because it depends on what I’m talking about and it depends on the overall goal I’m trying to reach. I’m a visual learner so I wanted to make gravity in terms of something that I can learn myself – looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. In [gravity] you have pictures with words right under them. Now, there are pages where it’s mostly words, but then there are a lot of pages where it’s straight pictures too. If I can add visual elements to it then I’ll definitely do that. Right now, my most preferred method would definitely be through writing. But maybe even audio, because I used to do music, you know, vocals and stuff like that. But I’m not really into that anymore. If I can reach people sonically, that’s a great way of doing it too.
A lot of people need [to feel valued] so they put themselves in certain situations where they can be the end all be all and feel that sense of being wanted. I think that’s the most human thing.Marquis
You dabble in what I like to call mixed media arts. You practice photography, videography, writing, speaking, vocals and beat-making. How do you choose to focus on one of these skills? Or do you?
I actually produced a score for a commercial maybe a month-and-a-half ago for a coconut energy drink. So, I’m trying to do a bit more of that. That’s a great question though because I’m still learning that myself. I feel like I have an obsession with trying to reach people. I’m not trying to impress people or get a certain look by doing certain things. That’s kind of why I majored in sociology [in college] – I love learning what certain things make people tick or make a demographic of people enjoy [something]. I try to always implement that into what I’m doing whether it be tweeting or trying to figure out what pages of gravity would work with certain people. I focus down on what is most completed. I’ll start something and be half-way done and while I’m doing that I’ll think of a great idea for something completely outside of that. And instead of finishing what I was doing I’d [feel like I’d have to] manifest or extrapolate on this [newfound] idea. I focus down on things based on need, otherwise I’m going to keep doing fifty things and not finish anything.
I like to call that the gift and curse of inspiration. It’s a gift because you get inspired so often, yet a curse because inspiration tends to take you away from the task you were attempting to complete.
I believe that inspiration is like a butterfly floating around in a room with high ceilings. Every now and then for a few minutes of the day the butterfly will float just low enough for you to catch it. But once you catch the metaphorical butterfly you must now act upon it. You can’t put it in your pocket, because the butterfly will die if you do. It’s kind of like this magic floating in the air that only gets low enough for human consumption for a very limited amount of time.
In you own words, what is inspiration?
MARQUIS: I wish I could come up with an analogy just as good as [what you described], because that’s basically what it is. You know when you were younger and they had the 99 cents store? They still had the good candy but you knew it was about to expire the next day. You just have to grab that candy and eat it as soon as you can.
Many people spend a majority of their time plotting their next move in comparison to acting on it. How much time do you spend plotting your next move, whether it be in life or the creative field, in comparison to acting on those thoughts? What’s the ratio?
MARQUIS: 75% plotting to 25% acting on it, without a doubt.
Why do you think that is?
MARQUIS: Because I overthink everything. It even goes back to gravity. When I was thinking about [creating] on only screens, people told me that I should print it out or put it in an art gallery or something like that. I don’t want to sell people’s stories, especially if I never paid them to do the interview. Second, I don’t want [gravity] to be physical, because then it’s taking away from what I was trying to do with it technologically. I was inspired by seeing people on trains and I guess it’s kind of creepy to say, but when you look at people on their phones, a lot of people aren’t really taking in information they are just scrolling. They are just trying to waste that time on the subway. Yeah, you’ll be scrolling though your tweets, but you’re not really getting anything out of that. I wanted to make something that people could immerse themselves in while they are in predicaments like that. Whether it’s on the train, on break, or under the covers waiting to go to sleep. It took a while to think of all that because I go though a lot of different steps. It’s like nothing is ever done to me. Everything can always be added upon. I do the same thing with ideas. I’ll have an idea that if fully finished and I’ll write it down and maybe the next day I’ll look at it and think, ‘I’ll add this to it,’ then that will take me five more days to implement the [new] idea.
It feels like that’s the revisionist process, though. That’s a part of the problem for creators – overthinking and not knowing when to pull the trigger.
You are one of my favorite Instagram and Twitter follows due to your satire and your ability to shine light on the darkness of everyday life – in a humorous way. How do you manage to find the comedy in life and deliver it in a witty/crafty Twitter status?
MARQUIS: I wish I knew, because then I could sell a book on it (laughs). I try to bring something that people can understand, like a pop-culture reference, and try to link that to something that’s happening. Somebody can look it up or just laugh if they know about it. There are so many people that just tell straight jokes about nothing and there are people that just give information without any kind of candy with the medicine. If you can do a bit of both then you have the perfect ratio, at least in my eyes. I like getting information with something that I can also smile about or tell a friend about. I don’t like hearing about people just dying and I don’t want to tell a joke about people dying. You know what I mean? A lot of the time you have to get something off your chest, but you have to do it in a way that’s relatable to other people. A lot of people treat Twitter like an online diary. So [often], people speak just for themselves and about themselves. But then you have to realize that other people see [those tweets]. The biggest thing about social media for artists and creatives right now is having a personality that people can relate to. Sometimes I just want to know how you are as a person. What are your interests and what makes you laugh, you know?
For you specifically, what is the purpose of social media platforms in an everyday sense?
MARQUIS: It’s an outlet and it’s a way for me to figure out what’s going on. Especially for Twitter. Do you ever go on news sites like CNN or anything like that? I get my news from actual credible sources of course, but a lot of times I get my news from the actual people that are there [covering the news story] and that’s usually through Twitter. Anybody can be a journalist on Twitter because they are there [at the scene of the news story].
I’ve noticed that if you actually watch CNN or go on their website a lot of their sources are from Twitter.
MARQUIS: There you go. So, if you’re getting your news straight from the people [that are at the source of the news story] it makes you more interconnected with everybody. And with Twitter, everybody is on Twitter. I follow people from South Africa, Norway, and all different kinds of places. You learn about different environments that you would never or haven’t yet ventured to at that moment in time. From one individual’s perspective, I can learn about South Africa or certain aspects of Iceland or something like that. Twitter is an outlet yet it’s something that you can take in at the same time – even though there are a lot of Russian bots and misinformation in general in 2020.
You are a traveling man. What would you say is one commonality amongst all people that you have encountered?
MARQUIS: I think that everybody wants to be heard. And everybody wants to be valued. People try to get that in different ways. Some people talk a lot and a lot of things they say might not have any kind of structure or any kind of real meaning to it, but they talk a lot because they aren’t heard at home or amongst their peers. And a lot of people need [to feel valued] so they put themselves in certain situations where they can be the end all be all and feel that sense of being wanted. I think that’s the most human thing.
How would you describe your platform gravity?
MARQUIS: It’s just sharing stories. That’s all I like to describe it as. It’s a project where I try to share as many stories as I can from a diverse [crowd] of people that are important to me. I just throw in my thoughts along the way. I just want it to be cohesive and so that you can get something out of it no matter what.
Thanks for reading. Follow Marquis’ work at isitforever.com