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Arts Life

The right problem to solve

Finding the right problem to solve — is it that appears in front of us or behind us, invisible to the naked eye? We strive to make a circulation visible from the darkness of webs.

In assessing what is known and unknown, including our blind spots, we cram into the intensification of discovery.

Never underestimate the cost of being stuck in boring equilibria. Stillness promotes the bonding of the dormant and the new. It widens our circle of discomfort — through tension emerges understanding.

Perception is a type of therapy if we can force the eyes to see. Eureka is a feel-good sensation to be jumped around in as an acknowledgment of the right direction.

We learn how to investigate, ask questions, and realize that the entire process makes sense only after we stop thinking about it.

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Arts Life

Connecting tiny pieces of information

The internet was made for aggregation. The abundance of information is impossible to swallow and puzzle out ourselves.

So we, in tandem with AI machines and social media curators — pluck the highlights and the most useful stems.

Collecting artifacts online is an educational experiment, a place where peer-to-peer networks share bytes of genius. Most of the time, learning improves our reasoning and behavior.

Unfortunately, some users lean hard on data that supports their views. Such knowledge (or misinformation) can be used to propagandize and carry people beyond the parameters of good sense. After all, news organizations prioritize entertainment over quality reporting.

There are no limits to floating ideas that can become instantly sensationalized and highly contagious. “Being informed” feels like an accomplishment. It can also be dangerous, firing up our emotions to the blindness of unnecessary action.

But suppose despite the confirmation biases we kept an element of distrust at bay. Cognitive flexibility is what makes the internet more than just a plain-vanilla copy-paste machine.

When we treat information raw, as medium-neutral, the brain makes space to think differently. Frequent experimentation allows one to connect more information to that existing information, like Harry Reese combining peanut butter and chocolate.

Collisions of thought are at the heart of a remix and the birth of innovation.

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Arts Life

Too unique to be a freak

A brain fogged away by alcohol, conventionality, and dopamine dependence. The head no longer wields attention to its unique advantage due to being manipulated at scale. Are we not entertained into generic beasts?

A clean glass of water wipes away the tears of indulgence. A proper sleep guts the head of neuronal waste. Any subsequent information channel that funnels standardization is mostly trash. Maybe lucid dreaming is a portal to seeing the reality of things?

Dead inside, clinging on to the necessities of good feelings. Memories help keep skin in the game, especially those trophies that celebrate the weird self. The mind curates a movie of life’s encounters. To the pessimist, luck is temporary while the optimist never gets weighed down by the nitty-gritty. How does one counter their private self with public accountability?

One experiences twoness until restitched by the alchemy of time and consciousness. Our best thoughts volley to each other, satisfying two distinct but connected appetites. Who else wants to give themselves a pat on the back for experiencing the brain’s synchronicity?

The experiment with authenticity continues, even more so as the world intrudes on our model. The interior shouting for more assimilation remains futile. Every progression made in this world emerges out of self-interest. After all, being different is attractive. When did any individual care about the science of standardization and likability anyway?

The hipsters round out the edges. The freaks are overly tilted. Both groups align toward the narrowness of culture. The true fence-sitter remains cautious and sharp, balancing the art of acceptance and the resistance to conformity. Doesn’t the economy and the precision in art depend on the free-acting creative individual?

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Arts Life

Starting the process, dancing with maintenance

The room of our mind decorates itself with doubt. Anxiety is a thinking problem, a challenge to contain the inner narrative that bears the footprints of our decisions. 

Extreme self-belief and passion offer the antidotes to quitting. Immersed from the start, we dance with persistence when times get difficult. 

Evolution is an imaginative process. As we gain exposure to the world, it becomes our oyster for exploration and experimentation. 

Each creator finds their own problems and lets their identity roll. We build and sustain a system of habits to avoid wandering about in the fog. We do, however, remain changeable as we mine for secrets of the interior self. 

But it’s not just the drive to begin. Finishing matters most. The world is a better place for those that ship projects out the door. Artists need feedback. “Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance,” once said Kurt Vonnegut.

So which is more difficult — the start or the maintenance? Both are equally important as an emphasis of action

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Arts Life

Doing it our own way

To do it our own way, for you, regardless of external interpretation and expectation.

Individuality is all we have. Character is destiny.

Sure, it’s in our DNA as social human beings to want to receive feedback on our creative outpourings. But making is therapeutic in itself.

Output is the manifestation of input. What we cultivate is a reflection of our inner narrative. And yes, a lot of it is trash, because most creative pursuits are temporary.

As they say, a good idea is an accumulation of a lot of bad ones. We aim for simplification as the most durable storage.

Being all things to all men is a foolish endeavor. We no longer chase other people’s dreams, nor our own. By running after our ideal selves, we run foul of authenticity.

We simply ride the wave of chance hurled at us, adrift on the storm-tossing sea of luck. We dance with all the uncertainties and anxieties in our work, following through even on the most unrewarding tasks.

Real makers talk as themselves, not about themselves. What matters is the creator’s point of view.

Devoid of context — it’s the viewer’s challenge to try and sense where the artist is coming from.

Complexity is the by-product of uniqueness, as people make out only what they know how to see.

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Arts Life

Reborn ideas

Life arises out of nonlife, developing as a consequence of the random workings of nature. 

Similarly, creativity arises out of noncreativity. Concepts are non-existent without chance execution. All ideas are dead ideas until further movement. 

Yet, it is procrastination that brings some of our best work to the forefront. Clarity emerges during idle times — thoughts coalesce in the shower, taking a walk, playing with the kids. 

Focusing on something entirely different helps break down the blindness caused by closeupness. Eureka moments are therefore myth; instead, we toil and stumble toward realization. 

The shadow that lies between focus and disconnection compels our actions.

Layer by layer, we keep stacking resources and exploring ways to curl the mind, and then we take periods of rest to examine the forest for the trees. 

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Arts Life

Artists are scavengers and tweakers

Artists are scavengers, modern-day hunters of information. And they pluck inspiration from everywhere: people, places, and things. 

They even gather resources through error. Mishearings, misspellings, and mistakes are idea producers. 

The creative process is two-fold. Ideas bloom, and then they require execution and management. The producer thinks about them, reads about them, talks about them, and ultimately acts on them. What emerges is something fresh and original.

Artists are continually developing novel techniques, ways of seeing, thinking, being, and diligently applying those efforts from various tools onto the canvass. 

The painter studies the way light falls on an object; the sculptor manipulates a hunk of marble to carve a figure; the poet converts a banal phrase into a haiku; the photographer reveals an obscure item plain eyes miss; the musician observes how a note lingers and uses it to create a melody that fits the song’s mood.

No matter what medium is involved, the creative process is the same. It starts with experimentation, struggles with tweaks, and ends with precision.  

The best artists study, learn, practice, and perfect the skills they need to imagine and design. Creativity is impossible without attention and effort.   

The never-ending search to consume and build something unpredictable keeps life interesting. Like nature, art is not static and remains subject to change. 

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Arts

Creativity is a game of inches

It comes as no surprise that lousy work begets good work — the more one creates, the more they have to play with. 

People mistakenly believe that successful artists excelled all along. In reality, what the viewer sees are remarkable stories told by people who decided never to give up

The internet is a great liberator because it allows anyone can show their work. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anyone’s going to see it. 

It’s nearly impossible to stand out when everyone’s an Instagram photographer. The world’s drowning in jpegs that all look alike, punctuated by countless candy-colored apps begging for attention. 

It’s no surprise that artists do their best work while toiling in obscurity. They may emulate conventions at first, but starved of significance, the creator begs to be different. 

It takes a lot of time and a ton of practice to develop both good taste and a unique craft. 

When we create for ourselves, rage into our work, the world becomes our oyster. “It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found,” once said English pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott. 

From stylization to originality, cultivating talent unfolds slowly into a game of inches. The only guarantee is the willingness to try repeatedly for a breakthrough.

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Arts Life

Tighter the brief, the deeper the craft

Once we commit to a creative project, we make choices within it. We narrow down everything into a tight brief so we can build something conclusive.

The frames in place help guide our unconscious decisions. There’s no blur between what we’re making and what we want to make. 

Slowly but surely, we commit to a process despite all the doubt. We gather a proper stream of blood flow and breathing, focusing free-flowing talent into a concentrated effort.  

Distracting opportunities have to die for the most important craft to live. 

We don’t need more of anything; instead, we play with what we already have. We hunker down on the front lines and figure out how to shape our materials. Boredom is welcome, as it provides the opportunity we need to have the next big idea. 

And once the art is out there, it’s out there. We try not to take feedback personally — not to repress or ignore negativity — but to acknowledge we shipped! 

How we perceive our work is more important than how others look at it. Society is either too polite or doesn’t care. Passion, care, sticktuitiveness — these traits are leverage. 

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Arts

The critics

The critics try to impinge as much as possible on the artist. It is their job to find weaknesses and room for improvement. 

The irony, of course, is that they couldn’t repeat the artist’s work. Critics are inadequate makers, no matter how masterful they are in their feedback. Said French-American painter, sculptor, and writer Marcel Duchamp, “Not everyone is an artist but everyone is a fucking critic.”

“Not everyone is an artist but everyone is a fucking critic.”

Marcel Duchamp

From the artist’s perspective, criticism is at least more actionable than a handful of compliments. Creators learn from negative feedback: what to ignore, what to tailor, and how to approach the next project, even it’s to double-down on their existing craft. 

The artist does it for themselves. They create what they want to see in the world regardless of humiliation and fear. What matters isn’t always the most popular

It’s not the artist’s responsibility to predetermine interpretation. The brain makes inferences whether it likes to or not. The maker makes — work so straightforward it echoes like an answer through a marble hall. If the craft becomes the lightning rod for criticism, so be it. 

The viewer or the critic, for that matter, should judge without prejudging one’s possibilities. However, they’re still permitted to scan with remarkable precision. And the artist goes unshadowed by their threat. 

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Arts Life

Adventure by design

A step into the wilderness with no path in sight, the only certainty is the next crunch of leaves.

One can’t see the forest for the trees without first seeing a tightly sealed version of the world. Each stick of bark aggregates into a sum of parts individually wrapped and bending into each other — passing signals above the shrubby floor.

Nature holds the strongest connection.

For better or worse, humans have the elemental need to keep moving on terra firma. Unlike water running effortlessly over rocks, we force progress by messing up the Earth that feeds us.

We put our minds in the void and bleed design everywhere. Restless, the mind and energy keep going. Life is one big party. 

We build societies, unplanned, over and over again “on top of ruins“, sucked into history. While humans may be disorderly, at least the cosmos tells the truth. Now we have to consider the unexpected and negotiate for a vastly more dependable calm. 

For every action, there’s a reaction. Thankfully, while the left brain remains fixated on the individual trees, the right brain plants new ones. Growth by giving back also flows from brain to brain, in accord with more universal vibrations.  

As they say, “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

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Arts Life

Crafting confidence

Confidence is fickle. Better to start before you’re ready than wait until you have full faith in yourself. 

The key to crafting confidence starts in the imagination. If you can armor yourself with enough courage — even if it means acting slightly overconfident — you’ll have revved the engine for risk-taking. 

Synchronicities also tend to happen when you’re feeling more upbeat than depressed. Anxiety and darkness, while integral to artful thinking, impair memory and squanders productivity. The maker wants to establish a long-term rhythm of creating rather than weaning off the fickle energy of short-term dopamine.    

Even the wisest men need psychological tactics to regulate the monkey mind. Expectations drive achievement. Of course, one should expect sensible outcomes — no one becomes the best or gets rich by merely thinking it. 

Patient with results, impatient with action

Pace, purpose, and practice are everything. Only a few are geniuses; most are late-blooming opsimaths. Like the Japanese artist Hokusai once said, Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Do anything enough — even if it takes decades — and you’ll begin to find your own style and workflow. Hard work usually compounds into something greater than expected and ultimately supports the joy of living.