Fruitful Constraints & Creativity

It’s an old tool many artists know : many constraints are fruitful. Mainly because a constraint is a problem calling for a solution, therefore you have to move, to be creative.

All jobs and activities have constraints : budget, environment, other people, time, space, your skills, your tools.

If it’s too loose, though, you feel a freedom, which can be messy. You can not catch anything. Stuck. You maybe need to tight something up, to find “your” freedom within a new frame.

Brian Eno invent the Oblique Strategies (mainly for musicians) as a card game. You pick a card and you have to obey (sometimes it’s terrible!). Some directors are well known to tell the actors to follow precisely something (the dialogs, or the places they have to move on the set, etc) before shooting. Some digital artists sometimes go out in a park with a pencil and a notebook. A photographer can go outside with the limit of 20 pictures taken, not much. And G. Perec wrote an entire book without the letter “e”.

 

Constraints are fruitful. You probably have many disposable levers for these. A poet can obey : write something in alexandrine; without any letter “p”, in less than 5 minutes. You may have to present a project in ONE minute only, and… with no words. What are your levers?

You can pull a lever to Zero, it’s the Total Constraint. For example, you’re a photographer and you go out without any camera. Just your eye. You’ll feel the need, you’ll feel your brain simmering. As you can only watch and… think, you’ll maybe have bursts of ideas (instead of taking pictures).

Of course it’s an example of “Amor Fati”, being content with what happens to you, even if it seems bad. Embracing fate : every constraint, if you can’t avoid it, should (and will have to) be danced with.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : f_pilvi

Schmaltzy Frontier : quiet #piano music from Satie to Eno

Cucul la praline is a very common French “idiom” meaning schmaltzy, ludicrously & overly sentimental. You can put this “ass-ass the pralin” on a person in love or on a picture, or… some music.

Quiet Piano Music draws a line in brains. Before the line, you find it peaceful and great, and after it, it’s… schmaltzy!

Of course this line is personal. I love Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies (I chose voluntarily a neutral clip : if you search YouTube, you’ll find plenty of “beautiful” things with flowers and flying birds). On this side of the line, here are the Preludes from Debussy.

OK, let’s get closer to the line. Eno/Budd’s The Pearl is a perfect balance. Satiesque gorgeous piano and ambient sounds. Try Goldmund, or the much more “melodic” Tim Story, which is, for me, the “line”. I won’t go further. No thanks. Cucul la praline.

Funny game : try the other way. Go quiet-but-more-complex (Berg? Boulez?). Nope? Well, see, there’s another frontier.

Tools/Dials/Levers :

You advertise, you compose, you take photos? Do you think about the Schmaltsy Frontier?

Who will watch your work? Where is the audience? Pleased but comfortable? Disgusted by complexity OR by “two much sugar”?

Where is the risk to lose the audience? What’s the worst?

Is there a way to add “complex nuggets” or “ridiculous nuggets” in a comfortable piece of Art?

Where is sarcasm and how will you play with it? What line would you prefer to touch?

Why is something cucul la praline? Too simple? What could be surprising?

#orsanmichele #firenze #florence #gravure

 

Intention of Effect Kills Effect

François Jullien is a French philosopher and sinologist. Thanks to his obsession towards “Finding resonances between Occident and China’s culture”, he invented plenty of interesting concepts. The little tool I present today is short and nevertheless terribly powerful. A seed of magic against the evil 😈 :

Intention of Effect Kills Effect

In poetry or on Instagram pages, in music, movies, painting, it’s when the viewer “see you coming” with your heavy intentions, your effects. It’s why bad photographers and, even worse, bad poets are so terrible !

The lowest example of this ? Romantic sunset photographies with beautiful lovers. You’re like “yeah yeah yeah…”. And when the efficiency of a poem is based on dumb smart juxtaposition of words. Welcome to the purple wind and to iridescent hopes

Instead of being charmed, or amazed, or interested, the viewer is exhausted by his assessments.

It could be post-modern nudge effect, right ? But it will probably be more like the “smart ass effect”… Exhaussssting !

A good example ? When in a movie you get a syrupish violin-music behind a saaad-potatoed drama. You wanna poke the director on the forehead : “Hey. You. Stop that ! I got it !”.

Intention of Effect Kills Effect

Of course, this is what we all do. In every article of these little pages. On your Instagram posts. We all have an “intention”. We push like bulls. We want prove something to others.

And the audience ? If you’re lucky, they maybe will think “I see you coming, OK, do your stuff”. But the risk is that they squint their eyes and… autopinch nose, voilà. Hashtag LOLs are boring.

Tools :

Subtilities. Surprises. Movement. Elegance. Complexity. Smart dissonances. This is where effectiveness is. Effects from… invisible intelligence !

PS : Eeek ! I talked about this in another article called :
“Slide, mortals, don’t bear down”

Thanks for reading !

Recess Time : “I don’t talk to you anymore everrrrr”

It’s recess time. Kids are running screaming everywhere. And there’s an argument, under a tree : “You betrayed me I don’t trust you anymore ever I will tell it to my mum you are very mean and I won’t talk to you anymore everrrr”. Drama.

Imagine now some more adults word in the kids mouths now : “OK, we have a problem, friend. You broke my trust, do you realize that ? Let’s talk : how do we get out of this problem ? Why did you do that ? What happened in your mind, silly ? Is it because I didn’t want you to talk to me anymore ?”.

Then, you could see the two kids talking quietly while they walk…

I heard many times about whole families on Facebook fighting about parenting or politics or a wrong picture posted on a wall. Everybody is bitter and block everyone. I heard many times about someone who decides to “I don’t talk to you anymore ever” to his own parents. Each time I’m like : Maybe you could try a letter a year ? Maybe just to check if it’s not a misunderstanding ? Maybe to check if the angriness has vanished into memories ? Evolving towards the light ? A letter to forgive, or ask for forgiveness ? Oh there’s a good word, here : Diplomacy.

Lever :

In case of problem, wrong moves and misunderstanding, do you chopblock people, or do you, on the contrary, increase the level of dialog and try to understand, grow up, and climb a few stair-steps together ? Are you a shark (attack), a carp (fear), or a dolphin (elegance) ?

Tool :

Do you need an enemy to regroup and feel safe ? Maybe you do.

Heyyy ! This is another article !

#holderlin #powerless #danger #quote

Enregistrer

Constantly Random is an Instagram flaw

Instagram is a great funny app to use and to watch.

I noticed that if you want many followers, you have to be… persistent. If you take pictures of street art, or portraits of homeless people, or pot plants in black and white, dancers in NYC or “I see beauty in dirty ruins”, macro insects or abstract pieces of wood minimalism, you will get many followers.

If, like me, you take “constantly random” pictures and you wander in all kind of “styles”, you’re done. Many people won’t understand what you’re doing, and the few followers you get will quickly unfollow because they dislike you post a happy bee after a blu-ray movie, a wall texture before a black & white dead tree, a HDR sky next to a symmetrical French architecture.

There are some tools, dials and levers to pick, here.

Dial : What kind of spirit are you ? Are you, like a deep-sea diver, exploring a small territory, or are you, like a bee-air forager, smelling and exploring all that you find (from the art of warfare to linguistics, electronic music to Prussia history, American painters to Russian short stories) ?

Lever : Where do you put the lever, from “I show what I love to show” (with the random effect consequences) to “I focus on one thing only” (with the purpose to be more readable and get more audience) ? What is your blog about ? Food ? Or poetry, images, weather, books, music and politics ?

Tool : Play this game : try to find the hidden pattern behind the apparent randomness. Yeah, dear, bend over this caldron and detect it. The forager bee draws interesting patterns in the air.

https://www.instagram.com/jprobocat/

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Aujourd’hui c’est gris / Today it’s grey

In English, to be sad is to feel blue, which is a bit strange. Blue is the blue sky ! In France, we say : “Je vois la vie en gris aujourd’hui” – I see my life in grey today.

This morning the sky was grey, a still blanketlid of grey. My mood was grey : I smiled and said “Aujourd’hui c’est gris !”, today’s grey. So I chose grey clothes and I’m writing this with my cat Bidou on my knees, listening to…

On YouTube I searched “Hindemith Langsam” (try !) but I picked, at the end, the Apollo of Stravinsky. It’s, say, velvet grey, elegant, a standing up melancholia.

When you feel blue, you can fight it with orange and yellow colors, and listen to Cuban happy trumpetting shit, OR you can sit in front of the window, near the rain, watching the grey, listening to some Satie. It depends on how you’re made, inside.

If today I had to compose a piano piece, I’d call it “I miss you, Swanny”; it would be Satiesque – with a veil, behind, like these clouds under.

Lever : Choose your weapon ! When you’re in a blue mood, what’s effective ? To sing a fake happiness on tropical dances, or try to hold your shit to slowly stand up ?

 

#sky

 

The Casualness Shades of Orchestras

I’m reading a book about orchestras. I liked the pages explaining how different do great orchestras really sound from one another, that’s interesting.

Try this article : World Greatest Orchestras

Cultural differences made me smile. Some American or German musicians hired by French orchestras were disturbed by our… frenchness. Instrumentalists are chatting before rehearsals, par exemple, ohlalaaaaa…

It’s a matter of shades, though. Italian instrumentalists think we are much more rigorous… Makes sense, no ?

In an American orchestra, everybody is on time, all the musicians did their homework, and nobody talks. Not a word. Riccardo Muti, coming from… Italy, was a bit surprised by this American “engine ready” effectiveness and once said to the orchestra : “You know, you can talk !”.

The author tries to be culturally fair. American or German (among others) orchestras are fast and effective, and French orchestras need more rehearsals to prepare a symphony, for example.

He says that the result is great, clean, and pretty much always the same in the United States. They do the job ! In France, orchestras are less like a perfect car and more like a living surprising entity. They do the job too, and sometimes it’s becoming amazing !

Leonard Bernstein always loves French orchestras for this reason : they follow his craziness if he tries something unusual. And… the author says than French instrumentalists are very quiet and attentive when the chief in Giulini or Haitink. Errrr…

Yes, I can link this arcticle to this other one, about following damn rules

So let’s say we can, but we don’t !

After all, the Eiffel Tower has no function, other than a symbol. The Eiffel Tower is uneffective.

I think that in France we just like to do things slightly improperly. Yesss we can cross the road out of the zebras, if there’s no car around. We really do that ! Ohlalala…

Lever : This lever is called “Obey” and has two ways. If something’s boring in your project, because it’s clean and right on the road, pull it here. Try something French. Add wine too.

Josef Krips, a great conductor, once said something like “With half more discipline, the French orchestra would become the best of the world”. Maybe you need half more discipline, then. Pull the lever there. Thank you America !

Day off with #orchestra #pluriel
Day off with #orchestra #pluriel