Banksy takes his art to Bethlehem

Promotional art by Banksy

Banksy opened up The Walled Off Hotel earlier this year along the wall of the occupied West Bank with the “with the worst view in the world.” More recently, he teamed up with producer Danny Boyl to put together a film called ‘The Alternativity’ which features local children and their families singing Christmas carols ‘Jingle Bells‘ and ‘Silent Night’ in Arabic and English.

The film drops just in time with Trump’s controversial move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which he also proclaimed Israel’s capital. The intermixing of art and politics is intrinsic to Banksy’s street art, but he’s hoping this event will have a real-life impact:

“There aren’t many situations where a street artist is much use. Most of my politics is for display purposes only. But in Palestine there’s a slim chance the art could have something useful to add — anything that appeals to young people, specifically young Israelis, can only help.”

Banksy

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The undivided mind

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Via The Imaginary Foundation

Wonder sits at the intersection of science and art. Combining the two disciplines is what fueled Leonard Da Vinci’s creative genius. The imagination needs time to daydream and gather string, letting the unconscious connect the dots between disparate things.

Said author Walter Isaacson on the artist in his new book Leonardo da Vinci, “procrastinating like Leonardo requires work: It involves gathering all the possible facts and ideas, and only after that allowing the various ingredients to simmer.”

“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand. Why shells existed on the tops of mountains along with the imprints of coral and plants and seaweed usually found in the sea. Why the thunder lasts a longer time than that which causes it, and why immediately on its creation the lightning becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel. How the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone, and why a bird sustains itself in the air. These questions and other strange phenomena engage my thought throughout my life.”

— Leonardo da Vinci

Curiosity unites both art and science to help realize the improbable.

The artist never graduates

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via giphy

Years elapse with no apparent intention of an end.

They want you to finish it to find closure, but they don’t understand that moving on to the next ‘big’ thing curbs the appetite of the maker.

Creators are slow cookers and even slower chewers, interspersed with periods gorging. They expect as many mistakes and regrets as discoveries– overall, full acceptance the unpredictable. It takes time to go forward and ship things, to hurry slowly unless you’re Picasso’s Guernica.

The artist never graduates, trying to be clever without being pretentious. In a cycle of learning, the beginner wades like water over rocks and tweaks days on end.

The Illusion of Christmas

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The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

Hypnotic, dizzying, and trippy. ‘Tis the season:

We have developed our design through the use of 3d modelling software. In doing this, we were given the advantage to view our compositions through mobility and constant change of viewing points aiming to achieve the most effective result possible. This process extends our understanding regarding these mediums available at the moment as “setting the stage” for creativity to be enacted. The final result is an interplay between the “physical” and the virtual.”

The Illusion of Christmas by Signe Emma and Theodoulos Polyviou

 

Bending meaning with Max Ernst

Twists and turns, intended distortions, randomness and the irrational stitched into a collage.

Getting weird makes it more interesting. Becoming interested makes it less strange.

To protest reason is human. Thinking different frees one from the cage.

Max Ernst flirted beyond painting, incorporating bits of catalogs and photos to take them in ‘wonderful directions.’

Adamant about living in the now

“I live in the now so the past is something you’ll have to dig up.”

David Hockney,  the British artist who’s become known as the ‘the painter of Southern California’

“Artists aren’t hedonists. They’re workers.” Hockey’s persistence echoes Japan’s Hokusai who also believed the best work was yet to come.

You can take breaks but real artists never stop noticing. “Remember,” says Hockney. “Our eyes never stay still. If your eyes are still, you’re dead.”

 

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward

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Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward (mirror writing) because he didn’t want others stealing his ideas. Writes Da Vinci biographer Rachel A. Koestler-Grack:

“The observations in his notebooks were written in such a way that they could be read only by holding the books up to a mirror.”

But did a genius who combined art and science so brilliantly really need to hide his work? Perhaps it was practical: as a lefty, he didn’t want to smudge the link. As a contrarian, Da Vinci also strived to be different. As blogger Walker’s Chapters writes:

“Do you really think that a man as clever as Leonardo thought it was a good way to prevent people from reading his notes? This man, this genius, if he truly wanted to make his notes readable only to himself, he would’ve invented an entirely new language for this purpose. We’re talking about a dude who conceptualized parachutes even before helicopters were a thing.”

Read more: Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

Temporary foliage

All photos by Wells Baum

Constant and changing, the Fall comes around and whips durable trees into seasonal characters, reminding us that everything is temporary.

The form is ephemeral, the roots are permanent. The colorful autumn foliage tree jettisons its leaves, falling without regret.

The ‘e’ in leaf stands for effortless; its intuition accepts the will of the wind and the serenity of landing on terra firma. Those that remain appear vivid under the flash of light. The season’s cycle into GIF loops.

Photo by Wells Baum

‘Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea’ ✍

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via Rebecca Hendin

“Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea,” observed novelist Iris Murdoch.

If you think you’re going to write a masterpiece, it’s already too late. It never works out that way. What you imagine in your head rarely translates to the same excitement on paper.

The best bet is to start writing and see where it goes. Writing, like photography and music, is all in the edit. It’s knowing what to keep, what to throw away, and what’s worth tweaking. As Miles Davis declared: “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”

How are you going to know until you get it down?

When it comes to writing, you’ll never know where you’re going until you get there. So you might as well just dive into it. Perhaps writer Louis L’Amour put it best: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

Habit fields: Where we work impacts how we work

Where we work impacts how we work, or play. As creatures of habit, we can let certain zones remind us what to do.

Writer Jack Cheng uses a ‘distraction chair‘ at home to social network and check email while he saves focused work for the desk. Author Austin Kleon separates his desk between digital and analog.


But all habits take discipline. As soon as we start mixing tasks like skipping from Twitter to an important presentation the ‘habit field‘ loses its power as a trigger for experiences.

Whether we read from bed or write standing up, “we become what we behold,” said Marshall McLuhan, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

That tool isn’t just a computer or a notebook. It also includes the couch.

Every variety of thought

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Photo by Wells Baum

When we’re young, we’re incorrectly taught to think in absolutes. We apply certainty to everything. The sky is blue. One plus one equals two.

But when we think about it, there are always exceptions and different ways of looking at the obvious. You can stick two pieces of gum together to make one. Says neuroscientist David Eagleman:

“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”

We infer the truth based on the probability of our surroundings. But it is in pausing to question the obvious that we stretch our curiosity. If the mind likes to play, let it dance.

The world means nothing without the inquisition of nature.

‘It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.’

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Photo by Wells Baum

Success bears responsibility. All of a sudden, your work and words mean something because the first time in your life people who you’ve never met are listening to you.

“It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.”– D.W. Winnicott

The alternative to fame is anonymity. Van Gogh gained recognition after he died. Before that, he had only sold one painting to his brother.

For some, success turns people into leaders. For others, it causes them to curl back into their shell and their echoes to faint. The spotlight curbs their creative freedom.

For the rare few, they keep on trucking and stick to the person they’ve always been. When it comes to any notoriety, self-expression should always trump impression. The latter is never the point of doing good work.

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Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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The benefits of spacing out

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Default mode network connectivity via Wikipedia

Our mind never turns off. Even when we’re doing nothing, the brain is always active, processing, remixing, and imagining in what neuroscientist Marcus Raichle calls a ‘default mode network.’ Writes Manoush Zomorodi in “What Boredom Does to You:”

The default mode, a term also coined by Raichle, is used to describe the brain “at rest”; that is, when we’re not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. So, contrary to the popular view, when we space out, our minds aren’t switched off.

Boredom prompts daydreaming. When we let our mind wander, we’re giving it permission to chew on past, present, and future events; all real, imaginary, or blended.


It turns out that in the default mode, we’re still tapping about 95 percent of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in hardcore, focused thinking. Despite being in an inattentive state, our brains are still doing a remarkable amount of work.

Mulling over possibilities makes ‘boredom an incubator lab for brilliance.’ There is no reason to rush to a stimulation of dopamine when creativity begs us to take our time and let the hard egg boil into ‘the winning equation or formula.’

We suffer from closeupness which is often disguised as mindlessness. Some of our best thinking happens when we think we’re not thinking at all, instead disconnecting to the spontaneity of mind-wandering.