Thursday, 24 January 2008

Creativity with limits

I doubt this is a new idea, but I've been trying to think about how to articulate it for a few weeks now, and it hasn't come to me. So I just thought I'd try writing what came to mind. Ad-hoc like? Sweet.

I want Faris to tell me the name for this, but broadly, what I'm interested in at the moment is the subject of the post. Creativity with limits.

It follows discussion with a friend in a band about creative competition as well as with Richard about, breaking through, gaining attention and otherwise being successful in an utterly saturated world.

Maybe first we need to ask why it's saturated? I think the answer is opportunity...

Technology. The ubiquity of personal creative technology, cameras and computers etc - on top of the commercial technology that allows us all to be fed without slaving in the fields...

That means that the competitive landscape is full. People don't know where to look and people don't find new things like they used to.

Suddenly, things with seemingly no creative merit in an 'olde world' become very fashionable.

- men who make art out of carving pencils. I'm sure this was just a silly craft skill bored old men in the outback would've done. Now it's art
- Paper art
- Jack Kerouac
- abstract expressionism
- gonzo

I’ve read somewhere before that some of these things were considered to be part of the cult of the amateur. I don’t buy that. And even I used to slate art forms that didn’t look like master crafts. However it’s simply the way we are forced to express ourselves in an arena where a painting that took 11 years to complete may be worth less than some LSD inspired dots that someone who is either an artist or just a very savvy businessman (is there a difference..?) created. It’s also the way to cut through, it’s the ultimate USP.

Hey look, this is my art gallery, it’s filled with expressions of city life that all took 11 minutes to paint, or indeed here are some portraits, I painted them all on Parisian metro tickets .

So here's my thing. Fine craft still exists, and it can triumph. But for now, I believe that successful art, literature and music of today will consist of things that have been made within limits imposed by the artist. I think that what happened in film with the Dogme 95 is linked with this, but slightly different, as the limits they imposed were not media limits, or limits of form, but imposed rules of behaviour within that media - i.e twitter with film would mean making a film in 1400 pixels, or twitter in a dogme 95 form might mean only tweeting using palindromes (you get the idea).

My own personal take on this is that with James Bell of Seeing Scarlet, I'll be making some demos around concepts like 'conceived and recorded in an hour' and totally ad-libbed lyrics. I understand this is not a new thing, but I like it.


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