Post from June, 2018

Art Impacts

Monday, 18. June 2018 2:00

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that Anthony Bourdain passed away a little over a week ago. I was a fan—not an “I’ve seen everything he ever did” fan, not an “I want to copy his tattoos” fan, but a fan nonetheless. If the press is any indication, so was a large part of the world. The articles about him are legion. Indeed, a simple Google search on his name yields nearly 47 million references. This is not another of those. As big a fan as I was, one of the things that has struck me this week is the extent of Bourdain’s influence.

Those writing about him are not just foodies, but are also humanitarians, politicians, artists, bloggers, novelists, musicians, actors, musicians. The list goes on and on. Those writing about him are not people who have merely heard of him; they all seem to know something about him—something he said, something he did, some attitude he possessed. It seems that Anthony Bourdain touched people in all walks of life, which is pretty remarkable for a chef, even a celebrity chef.

Bourdain was a poet of food who was outspoken on any number of issues. He seemed to genuinely love not only food and its preparation, but all of the people associated with the restaurant industry. That he was a poet is evident in virtually everything the man said and did—at least in public. That he thought deeply about humankind and human culture is also readily apparent. He was a poet who went about speaking the truth as he knew it. And he had an audience, an audience that was huge and diverse and appreciative, and he touched them. Thus all the memorial tributes.

It’s the sheer size of his audience that I find significant. Even given that Bourdain was famous, a world traveler with his own television show, the response to his death has been overwhelming. The number of people that he really touched is amazing. Bourdain might have said the same thing, given his state of mind at the time of his passing.

And that is something that we as artists need to remind ourselves of. We may not have our own television shows, but our audiences are larger than we can ever know, thus our influence reaches further than we can possibly imagine. Even on our worst days, if we are putting our work into the world, we are influencing people. In speaking the truth as we know it—using whatever media we favor—we are having an impact. And there is no way to know who, what, or when that influence will strike.

We all have experienced that one moment when the work of an artist spoke to us, or impressed us, or inspired us, and that moment changed our lives in ways that matter. And it was likely that that artist never knew that his/her work had such a profound impact on someone. So it is with our own work. We make it; we put it out into the universe. It impacts.

For that reason it is important that we keep producing our art. It is important that we are putting truth into our acting, directing, painting, sculpture, choreography, writing, photography, music, thus putting ourselves as well as our art out into the world—because we cannot predict or even anticipate when our work will speak to, impress, or inspire someone. We cannot even guess when our truth might change someone’s life. All we can do is produce.

Category:Audience, Productivity | Comment (0) | Author:

Trust Your Gut

Monday, 4. June 2018 0:15

Photographers spend hours deciding which prints are worth showing and which prints are not. Likewise, artists in all genres try to decide whether this choice or that choice will work the best. Countless hours are devoted to making these decisions. Several artists I know actually agonize over the choices they have to make.

Many thinkers would tell those of us who are fretting and worrying over artistic choices that we are wasting our time. We already know the right choices; we are just hesitant to act on them, and have to go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to come to the same conclusion that we had the first time we looked at the images.

Theories abound about how we are able to make choices so quickly. For example, Author Malcolm Gladwell says that we decide things in an instant through a process that he calls “thin-slicing,” or making a decision based on instantaneously gathered information.  His book, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, provides numerous examples and explanation of the process of making snap decisions—that usually turn out to be valid.

Osho, in his book Intuition: Knowing beyond Logic, says that both instinct and intuition work without consciousness or intellect and tell us things that are true without any thought or reasoning.

And now there is scientific evidence that shows that we actually do have a “second brain” in our gut that not only controls digestion but influences our mood and well-being. It’s called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and “goes far beyond just processing the food we eat.” There are evidently significant links between the ENS and the brain.

Even the old folk advice to trust our gut instincts has been proven true. Whether it comes from the “second brain” in the physical gut or the subconscious, the first decision or choice is usually the right one.

The problem then is not in knowing the correct choice; evidently that comes instinctively—regardless of which school of thought we follow. The problem is in accepting that that instinctive choice as valid. It happens too fast. How could we possibly trust it? Is it really the gut or the subconscious or some other mental skill?

Exactly how it happens doesn’t matter. Our body/brain tells us the correct choices—almost instantaneously, and we, for the most part, ignore them. We insist on examining the product for balance, unity, and any other principle we can think of; we apply analysis and logic in extended internal dialogs—when the correct answer has been in our heads from the very beginning.

The problem is that we don’t trust our own instincts. Instead of accepting the answer that came to mind immediately, we argue and apply artistic principles and find rationales and play all sorts of intellectual games rather than accept the answer that we knew all along—the answer we got instinctively, simply by looking at the work.

We waste a lot of time in needlessly justifying our choices. Just think of how much time and aggravation we could save if only we would recognize that our instincts are indeed valid. We need to trust our guts.

Category:Creativity, Productivity | Comment (0) | Author:

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