Call and Response: part 2 Imagination or Chance

I continue to try and chip away at the phenomenon I referred to as ‘call and response’, the way in which we take in information and sensory stimuli and turn around and put it back into the world. I introduced this idea in an earlier blog entry.
I approach this idea as an artist, not an academic, philosopher, or anything else. I base my reflections on real life experience and honest contemplation and curiosity. I use this blog as a journal of process and making as such…nothing more, and nothing less.

I find that my creative ideas come to me in two ways. The first and more common way is by allowing a list of conscious tools to play out during the art making process I simply call Imagination (as I list below) and the second way is to trust in the seemingly random occurrences that happens to me which offer new ideas and ways of thinking…something I call Chance.

The most common way I begin a work of art, as Lewis Hyde suggests is with “perception, experience, intuition, imagination, a dream, a vision or another work of art”. I find that all of these possibilities crisscross and intersect with each other at different times of the creative process. I often begin a sculpture by following a remote possibility and move material around until my intuition takes full flight. It is not until part of the artwork has become visible that I then allow my imagination to enter the picture. Yes, believe it or not these awareness feel different and I they tap into a different part of your senses. And on truly rare occasions are as Hyde explains,” the unrefined materials of experience or imagination are finished works in which case the artists is merely the transmitter or medium.” Meaning you just finished a piece of art and you have no idea where it came from, it flowed thru you with such speed and certainty that you were left wondering where it came from.

You become the “transmitter” of something truly greater than yourself. This experience leaves me dumbfounded. A surge of gratitude comes over me and I feel a deep sense of humility and reverence. I trust that something else is at play and I just happened to be the lucky artist to have had this experience graced upon me. There is an urgency to share the work with the outside world; it is not for me but for ‘us’. This is my Response part of the call and response phenomenon.

The second way I come across an idea for art is by Chance. It can be explained best by one of my truly favorite quotes by the brilliant Art historian Alexander Nemerov. He describes with such poetry and beauty the realm of the aesthetic possibility. He writes, “It was the realm of the situation, a chance encounter, an explosion unfolding in a small pocket of space, in which some strange and hitherto utterly unrealized view of the world might for a moment appear. At the heart of that explosion into vividness would be the aesthetic fragment itself, the sliver or shard that shaped the blankness and opacity of one’s surroundings, for just that moment, into a transient yet memorial coherence.”

It is my hope that all people have experienced this, not just artists. It begins with that moment in time, when lets say you are taking a walk and a sudden swirl of leaves funnel up in front of you and it instantly snaps your consciousness somewhere else, the occurrence makes you think about an idea, a possibility that you would not have thought about before that moment. An idea that really has nothing to do with you. It is not personnel. It is this very spark, if you will, that can be truly the gift for a creative mind, especially a mind and heart who has been practicing keeping oneself open to the realm of possibilities.

I will end this entry by saying that taping into these conscious patterns of making becomes easier with time and practice. Twenty years ago I would not have even dreamed that this was possible. So keep at it.

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