What can Dewitt Jones (photographer) teach us about his creativity in practice?
In this video clip professional photographer Dewitt Jones talks about an experience he had taking photographs for an advert he made in Scotland. His narrative reveals what he thought and how he felt as he was faced with the reality of the situation and his explanations of what happened reveal the way he interacted with his environment. Through his story we can appreciate how his thinking, emotions and practice combine in ways to enable him to create new and original artefacts. What can we learn from this story about creativity in/as practice? Do you have a story that illustrates how your creativity enabled you to gain something valuable from a situation?
Gillian Judson A few things to contribute today! First, what resonates with me is that connection between learning more about the river and his imagination being engaged...he keeps repeating "now I'm getting intrigued" (at first he was unable to see the extraordinary in this "ordinary" and somewhat (at first) disappointing location. He needed those experts (I would call "story-tellers") to show him what was unfamiliar (Who wears ties for fishing?), extreme, unique and ultimately wonder-full. I also notice he juxtaposes the "intellect" and "intuition"--"turn around Dewitt". He was seeking what he called "the place of most potential" and "the right answer" (ultimately he found many and he surprised himself over and over again. Knowledge. Heart. Wonder. "Attention") he said he was "paying attention"--a full-body attention as far as I can tell. An attention fuelled by what seemed to be a quest for some kind of "magical" result. "By being creative, we really do fall in love with the world."
Mar Kri some quick thoughts on this : some of the things I hear in his story ...
"I done my homework I had images on my head..."..i understand from this that pure intellect isn't sufficient to get us in that space.. that DJ did more than engaging his intellect or formulating a pre planned/pre thought plan on "how to do it".
he shows how entering that space required from him an attitude of letting go of his "intellect", and making allowance to different forms of knowledge - or rather knowing to emerge- , eg: he was willing to enter a space of not knowing... this i think is hugely important when we play with the idea of creativity This particular bit in his story reminds me of an article i read recently that reaching a space of disequilibrium is significant in order to reach a sense of equilibrium and meaning all over again...a very important factor towards him reaching this creative space was his willingness and determination to go there on his own..."to the place of most potential"; this communicates too a trust in this unknown process?
Also for me what comes out very distinctly is the relationship between man and nature and the space it creates affords for our engagement and birth of creativity...
"my intuition s screaming to me"....if our intuition has a voice , a story to say ,then its imperative we begin to listen more closely and expose these stories, in our attempt to "get back in that space"..
Paula Nottingham A humbling story really, seeing the process rather than the act of creativity. I realised thinking of the story that limited circumstances for the creative happening abound because many things are pre-planned. Perhaps the key is building in elements that are not planned.
These comments triggered a number of thoughts. Firstly, DJ is a masterful story teller and I guess he looks for story in what he is perceiving. Perhaps story is a way of discovering, representing and communicating meaning. I liked the way GJ connected learning and imagining and it seems to me they combine in a synergistic way to motivate him. His enthusiasm grows as he learns and uses his imagination to see more potential in the situation to achieve his goal and he then has deeper insights into what will be the sites of greatest potential in his unfolding story. 'Intriguing' is a a good word to describe this state of being sucked in to another level of awareness and his story is all about self-awareness and having his whole sensory system engaged with the unfolding situation. The images he finally produces fit well your notion of a quest for something magical. I was looking at an interview with David Hockney and he said something very interesting in the context of art school education. "You can teach the craft its the poetry you can't teach". Perhaps what we witness with DJ is him using his craft to search for the poetry in this situation.
I think MK & PN are right to highlight that this story is all about working with uncertainty and an unfolding and unpredictable situation requiring a mode of being that is open to the feedback being received and sensed from the environment. These are conditions that are often the opposite to what we try to create in the higher education environment so it is little wonder that learners are not prepared for such situations. How can they develop intuition for situations and circumstances they never or rarely encounter in their disciplinary studies?
My own contribution to understanding his practice is to try to relate it to the idea of an ecology of practice.
DEWITT JONES' ECOLOGY OF PRACTICE
Learning from Hockney
I got side tracked today - actually I enjoyed it and it ended up being well worth it. My wife has decided we need some art work on our bare walls. I have been saying for years I will paint something but never got round to it (50 years ago! I painted a lot and had hoped to go to art college): I sensed that this time I was going to have to go along with it. So I began to search for inspiration and turned to one of my favourite artists David Hockney. I came across a wonderful documentary in which Andrew Marr (himself a masterful practitioner) interviewed David Hockney about his work just before his major exhibition at the Royal Academy - The Art of Seeing. And for the second day in succession I was 'enchanted'
Jennifer Willis The art of seeing
Apologies for not joining the conversation sooner – having been coughed over by countless poorly children for the last week or two, I have inevitably succumbed to the same virus. Nevertheless, Norman has coaxed me into action with his suggestion that I view David Hockney’s wonderful video, The art of seeing.
My preferred artistry is through words and thoughts. As I watched the video, I was bombarded with inspirational ideas and memories. Just this weekend, I was driving back to London from my aged father’s home in the Cotswolds. It happened to be one of the nights when the harvest moon dominated a clear sky. Driving directly towards the gigantic orb was mystical: trees were silhouetted as I chased its ascending path. Surely this was an example of my seeing ‘with eye, hand (in my case, mind) and heart’?
Earlier in the day, we had visited an antique shop where we purchased a large glass kilner jar filled with mesmerising shells. My husband wanted the jar, I the contents. Hockney also says ‘We always see with memory’. Was my attraction to the shells a regression to the four year old me who collected shells on the banks of Lake Habbinya, lovingly filled a plimsol bag with them, only to have to leave these treasures behind when we were evacuated back to England at the outbreak of the Suez crisis? Whatever the reason, taking out each shell this week, touching its surface, admiring its natural formation, colour and smell has brought me many hours of pleasure and revitalised my need to create.
The sense of loss and joy was another theme I played with as I watched the video. Throughout, it was clear that Hockney has been strongly influenced by China. There was an unspoken reminder of the Zen paradox: we need, for instance, to have experienced pain to truly appreciate pleasure. And perhaps this brings us back to the stage of learning: with age and practice, we become the skilled expert, but that does not necessarily mean we retain the keen emotional component of art. As Hockney observes, ‘You can teach the craft, it’s the poetry you can’t teach.’ He has succeeded in retaining the poetry, whilst being an expert, yet also having that essential quality of curiosity and adventure. He is not afraid to move into unexplored media and return to being a novice. He does this by knowing how to see. It is this ability to remain young in spirit that keeps him (and the rest of us who defy our chronological age) sensitive to the beauty of nature and immersed in life.
I thought Jenny had provided a great example of finding meaning in the film that is deeply personal and linked her insights in a memorable and creative way to her own life experiences. I think I will always now remember 'seeing with memory', which I hadn't paid attention to before.. but my goodness how true it is that our perceptions of the world are always constructed through memory.
I enjoyed watching Hockney paint in his field environment. It gave me a sense of how he immerses himself in the landscape he is painting and how he sees and feels and then makes his mark using his tools and his medium. I was intrigued and I kept searching YouTube for more clips of him painting. I was infected by his quiet enthusiasm for digital painting on the ipad - he made it look easy, which I guess is the mark of a good teacher - someone who eases the challenge of learning. I thought I'd like to try and paint something and I looked up how he used his ipad to paint. Then I found a lovely clip by Jeannie Mellersh who showed me that one of the ways we can understand someone's practice is to try and emulate their practice. In the video clip she explains and demonstrates how she used her ipad to paint his April 28th picture. "I've been looking at David Hockney's exhibition in London showing his I ipad paintings I've recently bought an ipad in order to understand how he painted one say this one on April the 28th [Angie is looking at the catalogue] I have attempted to recreate it on my iPad" This practical down to earth demonstration really helped me understand her practice and david's practice as an ipad painting craft.
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What can Hans Zimmer (musician/composer) teach us about his creativity in his practice?
Here are a bunch of short video clips of Hans Zimmer the famous film composer talking about his practices and showing where he practices. You don’t have to listen to them all (unless you want to). The invitation is to dip into some of them and identify something he is saying that resonates with you and your practice and explain the connection.
Hans Zimmer - influences and backgrounds
Importance of mentorship. Seeing how other people solve problems.. You have to put your hours in.. great believer in 10,000 hrs to get good at something
Reveals a process but not the details of practice.. appreciate a set of relationships..and interactions between people (director, musicians, family) story… stuff emerging in action
The conversation and interactions between Director and Composer. The Director pushing.. Huge amount of experimentation.. 9000 bars… ‘joker is there but you have to find it’
Works in a very particular space, tools, books lighting, and surrounded by other musicians able to have a conversation with other musicians
I don’t have confidence. I have no idea how to so this I’m not good enough to do this .. it happens on everyone..
Every movie I work on I try to have a concept … I do try to figure out some new ideas and a new tone and a new style…