"Urban Light" by Chris Burden

Creativity often defies rational explanation. You can think about the work and break it down into pieces, but you can’t think your way around it. And the hallmark of originality is attention. It’s a rare creation today that will make us stop multitasking and focus completely on reading, listening or seeing.

In school, I consistently daydreamed my way through math class (and then wondered why I couldn’t do the homework… but that’s another story). My mind would travel so far from the classroom that I was practically orbiting the moon. Original creations make that kind of mental escape nearly impossible. They snap you back into the moment and command your attention. They shake you up and change your very thought patterns. The brain connects disparate emotions and ideas in one seamless thread — and whether or not those thoughts make conscious sense, you’re always, always engaged with the experience.

The American poet Audre Lorde said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” We’re all building on the words or brush strokes or visions of the brilliant minds that came before us. True originality lies in absorbing those influences, mixing them in with the mess of daily life, and then saying something completely, uttery true. That’s creativity in action.

Is this original work?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately — and it’s a bar I want to set high.

posted 28 Jan 11 in: art, inspiration. This post currently has no responses.

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