Monday, September 14, 2009

Felix culpa: fortunate failures as creative process

When working on a project in any medium, it has often been observed that - to a certain extent - the tools dictate or at least direct the end result. This is something that is often met with a sneer by purists, "Oh, I can tell that such-and-such was made in such-and-such application!" or "I know how they did that in photoshop," as if to dismiss the end result entirely if you can decode how that result was technically arrived at.

There's a certain comedy in that, but what I'd like to get at is beyond that- looking at the actual comedy of errors that, for me at any rate, oftentimes dictates the direction a project is going to take. For instance, when developing a design in photoshop, or when implementing it in CSS, there are countless opportunities for "mistakes" - dictated in regard to your initial intentions - to guide your hand. You may set up a class on a div, and check it out in a browser and discover that it did something totally different than you had hoped, or you may apply a filter when producing an audio track, with similar results. Sometimes, those results are undesirable, and you backtrack. But other times, it drives things in a completely new direction.

That for me, is creativity. Not the intention that got you started in the first place.

The control freak in us screams that the results must always match the intent. However, I have always found serendipity a much more thankful muse, and a very dynamic connection with both the chaos that actually dictates life as well as our own subconscious. I rarely get the results I set out expecting or intending, and so it is with life as well. It is equally constricting to set out with a particular "sound" in mind, or even- well, this applies to everything, doesn't it? You set out on a journey, you take the first step with a clear intent in mind- the rest are reactions to what is, when viewed from the present moment, blind uncertainty.

Can you embrace the random and dive in, or will you try to control the end result? Which is better? Which is more liberating?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about photoshop, but I do know you can't make an oil painting with watercolours. The medium can only deliver the message in its own way.

    The best artists, in whatever medium, are often willing to follow their mistakes, or find ways around them. That's the difference between a creative artists and a simple illustrator.

    To do that with your whole life is the art of living.



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