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  • Writer's pictureHassan Ragab

Ushering the World into Aesthetic Mediocrity?!

Updated: 1 day ago

It's strange to have millions of people around the world notice you in just a few months. I think I forget that it's probably not normal. I feel weird about it. I always grapple with the meaning of success. I'm grateful for the love, messages, and comments—even the hateful ones—because they mean I'm being noticed. It’s probably something I've always sought without really knowing it, or understanding what would happen next. I think I'm lucky to have had a small taste of fame without the real impact of paparazzi surrounding me. I've always felt, and probably always will, like a struggling artist—or just a person. I'm not really sure what being an artist truly means.

On the other hand, one thing I've always tried to escape is mediocrity. I think being complacent and mediocre is almost as bad as death. For many reasons (which I'm still figuring out whether they're right or wrong), I've associated mediocrity with going mainstream: doing something that someone else could do, something usually applauded. Over the years, I've realized this might be part of some sort of narcissism that tends to look down on everything, sometimes even the narcissist himself. It's an ego that doesn’t want to let go. It’s a useful monster, as long as one is aware and able to control it to some extent. In my case, I was fortunate enough to experience imposter syndrome, ironically connected to a sense of inability and continuous dissatisfaction with everything I do, yet luckily balanced by a sense of euphoria (and perhaps vanity) associated with creating something I haven't seen before.

And here’s where it all started. As you might know, you are probably reading this now because these contradicting yet integrating storms of sensations have led me to use AI in creating architectural concepts at a pace that I, and perhaps a few others, think is breaking many boundaries and rules. This has made my work go viral in ways that actually caused me many worries (more on this later). And like everything new, there was a fascination many expressed before understanding what AI is capable of, as it continued to be developed. Older models were not photorealistic, and prompting was much harder.

I can’t remember how many comments I have received, asking about prompts, or workshop requests that I was hesitant to delve into because I didn’t feel I fully understood everything yet. I've also received countless messages and comments from followers admiring my "creativity." As newer models emerged, they were "inspired" by such "creativity" and then their posts went viral too (and then they unfollowed me, probably because I never followed them back).

Simply put, in about a year’s time, I have seen the world flooded with concepts that I helped develop. Collectively, they have become mainstream, mediocre to an extent that I sometimes despise. It’s something I am always trying to get away from, and still am. To this moment, I feel like everything I create adds to the fire of mediocrity (of course, I don't own it; it's like a loop, and I'm just part of it).

I think there has always been this pure intention of searching for meaning, which is something I don't really believe in, yet I feel like I need to because of so many things (not now, I said!). My work with AI started with the quest to look for a new visual vocabulary, which many are now turning into a replication and mutation of mediocrity. Part of me acknowledges that this is an extremely harsh description and judgment of other people's endeavors, which are basically similar to mine (I also disagree with that at the same time). The beauty of these tools is in self-expression, regardless of the direction, because, ultimately, meanings do not really exist; the only thing that matters is our connection to each other and our understanding that we are part of an emergent fractal system, and so on.

Yet, with everything I do, I feel the responsibility of ushering the world into something that I am not sure of. The only thing I am sure of is that we are part of a greater whole, and the only thing that should have collective meaning is that we should be kind to the world around us and lose our sense of self (of course, this might contradict what I am saying, but this contradiction makes a lot of sense because, well, everything is connected). For so many reasons, I've been feeling the meaninglessness of creation amidst this "creative greed" that envelops everyone, myself included. What's the point of creating something that others will just brainlessly replicate for more likes and followers? What's the point of exploring themes that are important to me, like identity, only for someone who's never even been to Egypt to use the pyramids as the backdrop for their next luxury hotel destination? And even worse, there are those platforms that take my previous work, celebrate it in a shallow, incorrect form to churn out "content" for those who misunderstood the work's original intent.

There are no virtues in absolutism, and work, content, almost everything, is tied to its creators. No judgments—from me or others—should be an absolute verdict on beauty or authenticity, combined with collective conscience and the relentless pursuit of external self-fucking fulfillment. The fact is, reaching some of these levels might be one of the reasons why everyone, including me, falls into mediocrity. And while this fucking social media wormhole has been sucking everyone into this mediocrity, it seems like nobody really fucking cares as long as they make a buck, or worse, gain an extra follower.

The truth is, this is how the world has always been. And I am part of that chain, probably on both ends without even knowing it. But if there is an ultimate reason for why I do what I do, it would be to escape mediocrity, which in itself seems like a self-entrapment mentality. Sometimes it's like a self-destructive way to demolish your vision, or a fucking excuse, a way to victimize yourself. And so, in blindness, in self-guilt and probably absurdity and immaturity, I march on; blaming myself and others for existing in this weird, cruel, mostly tangible and physical world we've created, grounded by the single fact that I know nothing. And everything that I feel as I write this now, is just a fling that will pass, just like our short lives. We just tend to exaggerate the importance of the moment; only in tragedy.

There is no point to this text other than putting this into words so I can read it later. Making it public only made sense because of my feeling about what I am ushering the world into. I know that I overthink and that everything is a compound effect and a reaction, and everyone is entitled only to their actions. But, in this world of influence, one that I hate to influence anyone, it seems like there is no avoiding it, for so many reasons. I stay up at night, thinking about what I am doing, and the last thought in my head is, it doesn’t really matter as long as I am true. And even if I am driven away from that authenticity, well, because I am human and all, all I can do is try to hopelessly find it back, to hopelessly find hopeless hope.

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