The creative endeavor is generally understood to be a means of self-expression or an attempt to articulate the inarticulable, yet there are myriad alternate motivations for engaging in the act of creation. To be sure, the conveyance of deeply woven facets of one’s inner self likely always underlies the creative endeavor, as does a reaction to—and perhaps attempts to either alleviate or circumvent entirely—the shortcomings of the systems and conventions of standard human expression and interaction (e.g. syntax, language, social mores). However, what can be viewed as a creative endeavor can also be viewed simply as an attempt to transcribe an experience—one that is necessarily finite.1
The Intent of the Endeavor
1 Although there is an inclination to believe that creative expression may somehow tap into an experience perceived as “greater than,” the experience, as manifest by the finite human interactant, can only be finite. As the manifestation—and subsequent comprehension—of values of light depends entirely on the quality and character of the lens through which it moves, so does the
The problem is not the world, the problem is the mind; a fascinated mind can find anything fascinating while a disengaged mind can find nothing engaging. Most media, especially that which is meant to appeal to a broad base, employs flash—shock and awe—to force engagement; character development and story arc and computer generated imagery can be authentic explorations but more and more they are simply flash—like a hundred redundant whistles and finger snaps—to capture the attention of the disengaged mind. Instead of letting the mind expect the
Fluid v. Static Media
In regards to the problem of experience transcription, media which demand the expenditure of time (fluid media2) often present an advantage, as our understanding of a documentation of experience tends to necessitate a movement through time, which is to say: the experience itself is fluid. An experience can be merely a moment, but the mental cataloging and recollection of that moment is never static and dimensionless. Time may not necessarily move the experience, but the experience is never a single instant. While static media does request time, it does not demand it and can thusly fall prey to the particular problem of reach-exceeding-grasp.
experience of the “greater than.” The element itself may surpass the finite, but the experience cannot transcend the finite lens through which it shines.
2 This is a difficult idea to convey concisely with a single label, so the shorthand of “fluid” must suffice; but it is to be understood as moving, evolving, and time-dependent.
world to entertain it, instead allow the mind to involve itself in the myriad minutiae that fill existence. Study the patterns and variations of everything, study the dirt and the dust and the blades of grass and strange things tangled within, and innumerable details will emerge. Allow the intrigue of the fruit of the natural endeavor to engage, inspire, and ultimately seed the human endeavor. Where these two endeavors intersect can be of immeasurable value in regards to growing a collective understanding of the interface between human and nature.
Resolving the Dilemma of Static Media
Given this difficulty of static media not explicitly requiring time, it is tempting to disown static media as a tool for documenting an experience, but this does these media a disservice. For, as no experience is time-less, no act of expression is time-less and no act of documentation is time-less.3
The problem becomes determining what can counteract the seeming disconnect between static media and the fluidity of experience.4 First, it must be considered that most creative work is not manifested
3 It does not exist independent of any passage of time.
4 “Seeming” is the crucial word here, as, although it is obvious to reason that no-thing is truly static as it exists in the realm of human comprehension; i.e. there can be no experience of a thing without coupling the lens of internal-external perception with the lens of the “passing” of time, convention dictates a delineation between fixed, static images and more fluid media as they are traditionally perceived to be distinct on the chronological scale.
The human/nature interface is the macrocosm of which the goals of visual experientialism are a microcosmic aspect. The goals are simply to document experience, and through documenting, gain knowledge of that interface. Through experiencing the interface, the experience and knowledge of it become part of the interface itself, and so on, throughout the creative endeavor. The more honestly this is chronicled, the more refined the understanding becomes. Much like zooming in on any aspect of a fractal, there is no apex to
in an instant, but is itself a fluid process, necessitating a chronological transition. Second, given the recognition of the first, the problem becomes not that static work has no connection to the fluid experience, but that the ultimate product may exist to the detriment of the experience from which it was formed.5 Accepting these two points, a basis for a counteraction can be resolved. As with anything in the conceptual or creative realm, there is no single, clean solution, but rather many potential mechanisms of counteraction. A single mechanism will be explored here for the sake of brevity.
Continuity of Commitment
This is an approach reliant on clarity and consistency. Attention must be resolved and focused. As the focal point of attention moves throughout the idea6
5 Effectively, the static end result, despite being the product of a fluid act, detracts from its own substance by the very nature of its finish.
6 Either a conjured, non-physical concept, or something produced by the interaction with a physical object or space.
this endeavor, only larger or smaller arms on a spiral. But a lack of a conclusion should never be a deterrent to refinement, particularly of understanding. If the act of observing the self (observing the self) observing the object can lead to any semblance of self-resolution, it cannot be considered a wasted effort. Furthermore, the record of the effort can be propagated, imbued with potential to be a catalyst for another mind to engage with an interface of an object or idea, continuing a dialogue which exists independent of convention.
it should be left to move as it will.7 The practitioner allows the observation to define the output, without overbearing interference.8 Through this mechanism, the process becomes a record of itself, as the creator allows the interaction with the idea to become the entirety of the experience and, through commitment to the mechanism, finds that the continuity that comes from this loop (resembling a feedback system) in turn becomes the commitment itself. This is the perpetuation of a finite experience; a self-determining elaboration of the finite struggling to understand its own finite-ness in a spiral.9
7 There is little need to force a preconceived framework onto the method of applying attention. There are many instructors who insist that a hierarchy is necessary for a coherent visual statement, but this is not true. See “Problems of Problem-Solving.”
8 As with most creative acts, the best results spring from the appropriate balance between indifference and self-correction.
9 This spiral can expand in either an outward or inward motion, the effect is still the same. It is a finite occurrence, as it exists only through a finite lens, but it has the appearance of something approaching infinite. This is merely the result of the limitations of the finite lens through which this spiral is perceived.
Process as Product
Employing a counteractive mechanism and allowing a static medium to more completely embody a fluid experience has the capacity to generate a product that exists only as record of process. In this way, the creator can convey a more expansive comprehension of the nuances of any given interface and ideally engage the end-interactant10 more completely. Sharing these explorations, or manifestations of experience, effectively providing a platform for collaboration and growth—a manner of dialogue with the potential to transcend the aforementioned shortcomings of the systems and conventions of standard human expression.
10 In this case, the end-interactant can be considered any experiencer of the final product.
Problems of Problem-Solving
Continuity of Commitment, or any other counteraction to the dilemma of static media, should be conscious of its relationship to conventions of traditional process. Tradition11 has inarguable value, if efficiency is of concern to a creator. Internalizing the constructs and frameworks of convention can give the creator a valuable toolkit in regards to experience transcription. However, relying on solutions to previous problems is inherently incomplete. The creator should always remain aware of the shortcomings of excessive solutions, as traditional notions and frameworks12 leave the end-interactant an easy escape route.13 Becoming more comfortable with solving less will generate a more open-ended product with the capacity to bolster dialogue and, again, transcend the shortcomings of human expression.
11 Shared learning, i.e. educational systems developed to expedite the accumulation of solutions to commonplace problems in a given medium.
12 E.g. hierarchy, repetition, composition.
13 If the majority of the problem-solving is done by the creator, then what is left for the end-interactant to achieve?
Lines concretize our mortality, our emotional life, our reason, and even our spirituality […] they are our weaknesses and our desires, our faculties and our contrivances.
Lines do not exist. Our perception tends to manifest through contrast, and our sight has led us to believe in lines, despite their nonexistence. They are a convenient illustrative shorthand and a tremendous symbol of both the powers and shortcomings of the manner of seeing. Much in life is relative, and, as any color seems to change based on the colors around it, so can any facet of perception. A thing is what it is as much because of what it is not.