Over the course of the semester and through weeks 6-10, the aim of this class is to help students situate their creative practices as a flexible responsive system rather than particular media form. What this element of the course requirements is, is a final compilation of all six of the categories from Weintraub compiled into a single document, or “Creative Plan.” Although, some work time will take place in weeks 6-10, most of the work for the final assignment will be developed by the student outside of class time after the course coverage. Each student will present a short version (10 minutes) of their plan to the class on the last day of class.
Notes: In class discussion suggests a document of approximately 4000 words.
*confirmed by E-mail to Owen: Presentations 10-15 minutes with time for Q & A
12.06.16 Creative Plan, Presentation
12.16.16 Creative Plan, Final Draft Due
In the Making Reading and Class Journal Links
Scoping an Audience
Crafting Artistic Self
Expressing Artistic Attitude
Choosing a Mission
Creative Plan, Draft 1
The apocalypse has been cancelled. Computers are not going to take over the world. Robots will not be traveling back from the future in the form of naked muscle men or hot teen-aged girls. There will be no need to turn LA and NYC into Techno-punk prison islands. The morlocks will not be sending out invitations to long-pig barbeque. Put down the MREs and step away from the shotgun. A zombie apocalypse is wildly unlikely. Everything is going to be ok.
My work seeks to decrease fear and glorify intellectualism and the growth of human knowledge. Human knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. It is so fast and so great that many people are overwhelmed by fear and insecurity. I want to show them that the expansion of knowledge is not a fearsome thing. The world is changing and will change further but that change can be awesome. We have the opportunity to build better lives. The paradigm of thought has shifted. We have deeper meaning and greater freedom than ever before. My art embraces the change and encourages others to do the same. It is inspired by human achievement. The work will be of relevance to those who wish to celebrate and act as a gentle guide to those who are afraid. It employs satire and irreverence but stop short of direct assault. There is room for explicit instruction as well as blended layers of implicit and obscured meanings. The work asks only for engagement that sets it to memory and perhaps later to influence.
Human knowledge is growing rapidly and it isn’t about to stop. Buckminster Fuller determined in 1982 that human knowledge doubled every 18 months . More recent research suggests that even this accelerated prediction was too slow. A shift from linear to exponential computation indicates much faster progress. If knowledge is not merely doubled, but increased exponentially with each calculation it eventually reaches a point that has become known as the “technological singularity,” a state in which technology has been extended beyond human limitations. Some researchers believe that humanity will be technologically capable of the singularity as early as 2045 Maybe this is over-stated, but whether the speed of development is Mach 9.5 or merely supersonic, it is moving fast. Not only is it growing at barely-imaginable rates, it is also spread out beyond the control of isolated individuals. Whether we like it or not, access to information is relatively easy. Human knowledge has reached a critical point of growth and distribution. It can no longer be realistically stopped or even effectively controlled. We might be in trouble if that zombie apocalypse manages to make headway, but otherwise the course has been set.
People are scared. Technophobia. Xenophobia. Chronophobia. Metathesiophobia. Panophobia. Fear of everything. People are choking on their fears and suffocating under the weight of it all. They label the fear with big names and give it identities to focus on. They blame science for giving them ideas they don’t understand and technology for making tools with awesome power. They blame the media and the people around them for inundated their lives with ideas that contradict their safe, secure continuity. They are overwhelmed and so they think that if they simply close their eyes all of it will go away. They withdraw and in withdrawing they become less able to adapt and more fearful and it begins a cycle of withdrawal and fear and more withdrawal. Stop learning. Stop thinking. Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. The evil will go away. But, it will not go away. The world is changing and it cannot be stopped, but it does not have to be terrible.
The growth of human knowledge has given us the potential to build an awesome world. Maybe we haven’t quite gotten to hover boards and flying cars, but we have many things that make out lives better. Modern society is healthier and safer than ever before. The vast spread of information that we have generated is now so large and open that knowledge no longer needs to be limited to the intellectual elite. Everyone can have the opportunity to learn and to use what they learn for the betterment of all. Maybe we don’t do all of the things that we could do. Maybe society hasn’t quite caught up with what is possible but that “possibility” exists is powerful. For the first time in history, we can. We can feed, shelter, care for and educate a global population. We can and if we can, perhaps someday we will. It is time to change the way we think.
The old ways have passed and we are free. Certainty is in its death throes. It kicks and bites and claws at us to pull us back into the rigidity of the old thinking but it cannot win. We live within a new paradigm. We have learned that there are no absolutes. The meaning of “life the universe and everything,” is not an answer. It is a question. An infinite question. Every string of “but why” continues past the last known point of knowledge, into “insufficient data” and interminably on into a string of unknown. There is not, and can never be, a universal “theory of everything,” because its revelation could only lead to yet another “but why.” There is no answer to provide a scientific theory, a god, or a philosophy to conscript into bearing responsibility for us. We must bear it alone and that is as it should be. We are responsible for ourselves. We are the bearers of our own meaning. We are free and it is time to celebrate that freedom.
Art can be a celebration. My work seeks to celebrate the growth of human knowledge. It works to make intellectualism desirable because now is the time. We are free to embrace the joy of knowing. Too long has learning been shaped as drudgery and work. It should not be a short phase of life that we pass through on the way to something else. Learning should be a lifelong process. We should be engaged every day in examining, thinking and analyzing. Learning is how we will overcome fear. The more we know, the more we will be able to participate in and enjoy the world we have made.
The work is inspired by all that has been learned and achieved by the act of intellectual exploration. The Arts reside close to Science and Technology as each influences and is influenced by the other. There is an overarching impact made by great works of literature. The words of many writers have preserved the thoughts and ideas that shaped mankind’s journey towards enlightenment. I have read so many thousands of texts that the works necessarily add depth and richness to my own, even when their focus is obscured by countless layers of interpretation. They still provide an interconnecting web to bind ideas together. The act of writing is also a source of both inspiration and organization. While there is a role for the creative play of words, it is the organization and recording of information which has the most profound impact on the work. Documentation creates order in the mind that can then be reproduced to guide others more effectively through the paths of an idea. Science and Technology provide quite direct inspiration both in what currently exists and what might potentially be. Science shows us the past. We can look at dinosaurs gone from the earth before we were men and we can imagine that we know them. Science gifts us with the details of life, the smooth, alien greenness of the praying mantis and the impossible perfection of zebras stripes. We can see inside the human body and understand how it functions. Science grants us new eyes to see microscopic life and it brings us to the depths of the oceans and the height of the stars to see the strangely similar entities that reside in both. Science gives us the keys to technology to break the atom and smash particles we can only even see as shadows of themselves. It is spectacular and full of wonder. And still, it does more because it also provides the tools to imagine what could be. We may never know life beyond our planet. We may never find the origin of dark matter. We may never know, but we can be inspired to imagine what is possible so that someday we might do it. Intellectual exploration is at the heart of my work.
The work will appeal to those for whom knowledge already bears celebration but it is also for those who are afraid. Those who love to learn will find the excitement in my work. They will recognize the spirit of adventure and hopefulness that resides within it. The work hopes also to appeal to those who need guidance. It provides a path to help them find a way towards embracing a changed world view. There will always be a few who are too fearful, to steadfast in their beliefs and too deeply entrenched in their sense of place and order to consider the work. They will be angry or dismissive but that cannot be helped. The work cannot bow to cowardice.
The work is brave but bravery does not require aggression. It is light and fun. It employs satire and irreverence but it refuses to push so far that it becomes an assault. Humor makes difficult subjects easier to address. It can be funny. It does not need to take itself seriously. It invites laughter and promotes pleasure. When people are laughing, they are relaxed and open and far more willing to accept what they see. Satire adds bite to humor as it calls for change in the viewer but it is much easier received than direct confrontation of beliefs. Irreverence is the most important of all because an indeterminate world does not have room for beliefs that are too scared to be challenged. It is through challenge that we are able to learn, reform our ideas and ultimately grow. No entity should be allowed to stand immune to growth or change. The work provides a medium to question accepted ideas. This does not require meanness or cruelty. People do not listen when they are angry. They close themselves off and refuse to consider. It is unproductive. There may be times when direct assault is the only choice, but that is not the role of my work. My work should be a gentle guide that helps people to open their minds to new ideas.
The concepts that build the art can be explicitly stated or layered in implied meaning leaving faint signs of the obscure for the most connected observers. Art does not need to be mysterious to be meaningful. Sometimes people need a sign, to tell them where to start. Charts, diagrams, signs and text are useful tools. When it is possible to use them, they should be used. When people have good instructions, they feel safe. It draws them in so that they are willing to consider the work in greater depth. There remains a space for metaphor and symbol. Sometimes it exists in a layer underneath the direct definitions of explicit meaning. Sometimes it must exist on its own. Metaphor and symbol are important because not all ideas can be easily transmuted into simple forms. Sometimes what needs to be said requires poetry. The time the viewer spends dissecting and analyzing the implied meaning, is the purpose of the work. It guides thought. Even if the thoughts are not what was intended or predicted, the purpose has been fulfilled if the viewer allows themselves to think and consider it closely. Obscured meaning lies under everything else and probably cannot be avoided. Obscured meanings have their home in the deepest parts of the mind. They may be incorporated into the work with purpose or as a result of subconscious influence. The viewer who finds meaning in those abstract symbols, finds a connection between the work and their own experience. This creates a valuable and intimate bond between art and viewer.
The work asks for success only by engagement. To engage the work, is to fulfill its purpose. Engagement requires thought. While it may not also produce change, it gives ideas the opportunity to settle into memory so that the influence may remain and perhaps provoke a change in the future. If the work can also stimulate discussion then that too adds a measure of success. The greatest success of all will come when the viewer sets aside fear and replaces it with joy. If the work can open a portal through which to view a better world then the work will have done its job.
The identity of the artistic self that creates the work is only a matter of peripheral importance. The work is not dependent on biography but it would be untruthful to say that biography did not influence the work. When we create, we embody a persona that empowers the work. I know that I can be arrogant, intolerant and angry. These things live inside me but that does not mean that I have to embrace them. I want my work to express my best self. Art is a metamorphic force. It can transform us into the persona that we embody. If I put my best self into my art, my art can help me to become that self. I decide who I will be. I will be brave and honorable. I will be kind. I will embrace joy and I will value intelligence. These are the traits that I chose to define myself and so these are the things I strive to include in my art. Sometimes I will fail but I hope that failure also has its place. I hope that when I fail, the result will be more intimate and provide a source of connection to the viewer.
 Fuller, R. Buckminster. Critical Path. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1981.
 Adams, Pamela. “The Singularity and Our Collision Path with the Future.” DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker. 2014. Accessed December 16, 2016. http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/the-singularity-and-our-collision-path-with-the-future/.
 “The Future is Coming Much Faster Than we Think, Here’s Why.” That’s Really Possible. 2016. Accessed December 16, 2016. http://www.thatsreallypossible.com/exponential-growth/.