Fruitful Constraints in creativity & the wall of “I don’t know this”

I wrote an article about Fruitful Constraints & Creativity in 2017. Here it is :

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 invented 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). Take notes!

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.

 

Today I’d like to extend this. If “constraints in Arts” is a well known concept, what about life, or culture?

Obviously, it’s linked to the idea of “Comfort Zone”. Let’s take movies, or music…

If one listens to the music they love, good to them. But how do we discover other musics, in fields we’re not used to dig? We have to think, make efforts, find a way and a place, informations. Then we begin, and our brain is surrounded with constraints : we don’t necessarily feel pleasure, there are things we don’t get, and our lazy head pushes us to stop.

It’s the same for painters we don’t like, movies we usually avoid, etc.

Out of our comfort zone, we have to make efforts, we must use an amount of curiosity, we must find or draw maps. In fact, we build, we extend, we grow.

The wall of “I don’t know this” can be an obstacle. Do we skip over, making efforts and feeling the fecund constraints of the undiscovered, or do we go back to the mellowness of what we already love?

Is the real new fruitful for us? How?

If exploring is sometimes unpleasant, is it worthy to fight the unpleasantness (OK : displeasure) and why? You have to invent new tools to think? You could find pearls and emeralds and gold?

What haven’t I explored until now?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Trent Parke

Delicious Toxicities

I thought a lot yesterday after my article, about the fact that some artists, some stories, some movies are disturbing, or hard to understand, or even toxic to us. Some persons too!

I talked a lot about this idea, which is like an obsession to me.

I could listen to Abba all day but sometimes I feel I have to explore Mahler, even if it’s very complicated. I have to read, to listen many times, it’s a mess. I need to make efforts. I have to work.

I watched Mission Impossible 6 and it was such a pleasure. But I need to watch Manchester by the Sea, and Ladybird, and Phantom Thread, and Bergman’s Persona – I needed 3 evenings to finish this last one. Efforts : it was like a puzzle for the mind, it was complicated.

“Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué”, say the French. Why being simple when you can be complicated?

How come I want to explore things which need… efforts? I don’t know. Exploring is a good feeling. And I love structures : I dream to watch every movie of 1960 just to have an idea of the mood of the era. I will attack Miles Davis one day. I promise.

Mahler is hard. Proust is hard. Bergman is hard. Bacon (the painter) is hard. And learning a new language too!

I don’t think it’s about efforts, even if it’s needed. It’s about exploring. Extending something. Enriching? Of course, one solution is to quit, or to give up on these beginnings. But I won’t : I need to be disturbed, I beg.

Why? Because it changes things in you. Progress, it’s about. Evolving.

It’s like when I see a new challenge in Gurushots. I have to take a steampunk photo, and I don’t have any pictures of that. I have to invent one. It’s… a challenge – I had great fun.

 

Thanks for reading!

Happily, the challenge today was “Green”. Not to hard :

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