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Arts Creativity

RIP artist John Baldessari, the playful artist rebel

The renowned artist, photographer, and teacher John Baldessari past away last Thursday.

Baldessari made stuff that deliberately rebelled against the principles of art.

When he read in a how-to photography guide that people should never pose in front of tree lest one appear to have an elongated head, he did just that and even more, wrote “WRONG” below the picture.

When in 1971 the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, invited Baldessari to exhibit his work but couldn’t afford to pay for his travel, he produced a handwritten note for students that encouraged them to write “I will not make any more boring art” on the gallery walls.

Baldessari enjoyed the freedom of playing with text and imagery, telling the New Yorker, “I’ve often thought of myself as a frustrated writer. I consider a word and an image of equal weight, and a lot of my work comes out of that kind of thinking.”

Baldessari never considered himself a trained artist which permitted him to stay light, sarcastic and explore everything. It was his way of saying that art can be whatever you want. “I could never figure out why photography and art had separate histories. So I decided to explore both,” he said.

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Making meaning removes meaning

gif by John Walters

Making meaning removes meaning. What we make is what we want to make. The only supervisor is ourselves.

But we do need signals — something that tells us that we’re moving in the right direction.

“The muse has to know where to find you.”

Billy Wilder

Accept professions but don’t become them

Tied up in labor, we forget that the day job is the means of survival. Home is where the real sex happens, where we enjoy the liberty to play and rage into our work.

Doing the work we enjoy is the best use of our time. After all, more time is better than money.

Paradoxically, everything we don’t want to do feeds our basic survival. That’s why such priorities always feel somehow aslant.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology

Imagination is a mental scratch pad

Imagination is a mental scratch pad, a place to delve into the urges of the non-existent. It is only there can we see what’s more captivating than reality’s everydayness.

Imagination not only protects us from boredom, it also protects us from ourselves. It acts as a neuroprotective stimulus for brain expansion — we are only as good as what we can envision.

Imagination helps us slice through the bedrock of the present. It moves us behind the boundary of facts. It screams yes to life, even when there’s darkness.

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

What is the imagination good for? Absolutely everything.

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Arts Books

Mechanical paper tech by Kelli Anderson

These popup contraptions are extraordinary.

Created by artist Kelli Anderson, This Book Is a Planetarium (Amazon)  contains interactive constructions of a planetarium, a musical instrument, a speaker and more.

Writes the artist on her blog:

I published a pop-up book of mechanical paper tech.
Expanding out of This Book is a Planetarium’s pages, you’ll find: a stringed instrument, a perpetual calendar, a decoder ring, a spiralgraph drawing generator, a smartphone speaker, and—yes—a constellation-projecting planetarium. With a little tinkering, turning, and futzing: the resulting paper objects actually work! (despite of being made from “almost nothing.”)

The book was designed to showcase the potential of the material world—while making a case for the inherent educational value of lo-fi experiences

their clunky way of functioning, the past’s technology served this unacknowledged secondary function to humanity: These objects helped us —and therefore connect to —the magic of the physical world. By being glitchy and fussy (and by sometimes requiring manual tinkering or duct tape), lo-fi contraptions more transparently revealed the underlying laws of the world to us.

You can find out more about the book here.

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Arts Creativity Tech

Art constitutes thought’s core

We don’t make art because we need to. We do it because we have to. It’s not just an addiction; it is therapy.

Without our work or side projects, we are an empty shell. Each project gives us meaning.

“Art is a line around your thoughts.”

Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter

Yet, the tendency to overthink our work’s value often misconstrues the act of performing it. Sometimes making stuff doesn’t need thought nor interpretation. Like laughter, it just is.

The power to take a picture, draw, run a science experiment, or just write clears the fog of perfection or the need to appease others. The end product is not always for Instagram but for us. Art constitutes our thought’s core.

The homogeneity of stuff begs our mind to make what’s unique to the person. Limits are self-inflicted. Artists are inspired individuals, especially when they are working.

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Arts Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Tech

Brian Eno: ‘Try not to get a job’

What would the world look like if everyone was guaranteed a basic income?

For musician Brian Eno, that society would put a lot more emphasis on time well spent.

“Try not to get a job. Try to leave yourself in a position where you do the things you want to do with your time and where you take maximum advantage of wherever your possibilities are.”

Brian Eno

Of course, not everyone can afford to remain jobless; the harsh reality is that work pays the bills and keeps us alive. But as more jobs get outsourced to robots and artificial intelligence, humans will need new ways to think about their responsibility.

What will we do when there’s no work to be done?

Work defines who we are. It forms the nucleus of our identity. However, a jobless world may encourage more innovative thinking about ourselves and our role in a secular, globalized world.  Perhaps it’ll compel some people to pursue more passionate work, the type of vocations that choose them instead of the other way around.

In such a world, we’ll be makers instead of cogs, thinkers instead of algorithmic lemmings. Writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote: “There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life.”

To work on something we actually enjoy is to live.