Art and Ants

Post a 6 second video on youtube and nobody cares. “Why is it so short? They could have done so much more.” Post a 6 second video on Vine: “Wow. Look what they did with only 6 seconds!”
It’s funny how something like Vine can take off so rapidly. Youtube and video sharing has been around for quite some time. Have our attention spans gotten shorter, or are we just more efficient about filling our down time with entertaining snippets and having the ability to share them with anyone around the world with the touch of a screen?
…or is there an artist in everyone?
I’ve come to notice, through personal experience, as well as impersonal experience, that if you place a creative person in a big open room and tell them “you can do whatever you want as long as you reach the wall,” they won’t know what to do. They’ll start with an idea and walk one direction, like that band, and then maybe get another idea of equal merit and head off in another direction because “it might be worth exploring.” that phrase is the sappy goop that bogs you down.
From an artistic/creative point of view, literally everything is worth exploring, which gives you no better reason to go one way over the other. But the artist doesn’t know that, so they run around in circles going from one place to the next, running toward the wall, but never reaching it because they obtain this strange sense of empathy with the wall, that by touching one part of the wall they are also not touching every other point on the wall, and thus the artist is not living up to their potential.
The metaphor isn’t perfect, but it’s like an ant wandering around in search of food. It doesn’t know where it is, so it could be anywhere, so the ant goes anywhere. It cannot go everywhere — that is impossible — but the point is not to go everywhere. The point is to go somewhere. This is where Vine comes back into the equation.
What every artist needs, and may not be willing to admit, are restrictions. Restrictions are what force you to move with undoubting purpose. Restrictions are what force you to think creatively. The most common restriction we have are deadlines, and then of course you can go from there. Some people complain about them “…Ugh, and the whole thing has to fit on a 6×6 inch space! Can you believe that?” Yes. Yes, I certainly can. I enjoy these little restrictions because they provide a challenge, but even better yet, they provide a direction and get your mind to tick a way it wasn’t ticking before. Whether you like it or not, that’s called being creative. So as is the case with this whole sicks second video Vine thing, people might not know how to express their thoughts in video form about something ‘trivial’ that may be very funny or insightful, but doesn’t warrant ‘a whole video just for that.’ But then a 6 second restriction comes along, and here you are thinking about how can you condense your rambling, yet insightful, thoughts on breakfast cereal into a succinct and witty snippet. And best of all is when people normally wouldn’t do something creative, now feel as though they have an outlet for it that didn’t exist before, so they start making videos. It’s not that videos didn’t exist, but rather that that way of thinking about videos hadn’t existed to them yet.

“Get from A to B.”
“Okay, I’ll just walk.”
“Between A and B is all water.”
“I’ll take a bote.”
“You need to get there in 3 seconds.”
“I’ll take a jet powered hydrofoil.”
“Now that’s something I want to see.”

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, as I don’t know why I started writing it, but for some reason I want to end on the image of the wandering ant, and then you put a piece of food in that room and the ant heads straight for it. It’s a closed room with walls, solid construction, and locked doors, so you have no idea how a thousand other ants came out of nowhere and started helping this ant carry the food. It’s not that you gave the solitary wandering ant some food, you gave it a goal. Before, the ant traveled an aimless path leading nowhere, but now you can clearly see a stream of ants winding across the room, like a vine, showing you where it’s come from, where it’s been, and where’s it’s going next.

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18 thoughts on “Art and Ants

  1. janetsolem says:

    Reblogged this on Rambled Skegs and commented:
    This guy writes my brain.
    Loving it.

  2. janetsolem says:

    Gahh I think about this ALL the time!
    It is so across-the-board relevant, too. Super pliable. That’s kind of my problem though, everything’s pliable to me. But really. This is great.

    • haha thanks! pliable. rigid. somewhere bouncing back and forth between both… i dunno

      • janetsolem says:

        Precisely. Or not, one never knows. ;) There’s always this “next” thing we allow to keep us from being too steady, but this “now” thing that makes us think we’re so sure! And hell, we are! Sure as toast. A toast to ignorant confidence. :)
        It’s 530 am, I have no idea what I’m doing… Probably should go to sleep.

      • janetsolem says:

        I identify so well with your page title. And subtitle, or whatever the eff it’s called. Absolutely loving all of it. Going to sleep now I promise!

        • haha thanks for staying up and reading, however (in)voluntary it is.
          that’s where i was yesterday. “oh crap, that’s the sun. time to sleep”

          • janetsolem says:

            (In)voluntary is exactly what it is! “Who has time for sleep?” “But I’m so tired.” “But my back hurts so badly I can’t think (what am I, old?), nevermind sleep!” “Well luckily I still have some Vicodin leftover from recent surgery.” “Well not so luckily it’s the last two.” Pain’s about gone though. XD
            Will definitely be reading more-o-yer trezhurz tomorrow, glad the exchange happened (and thanks for reading mine). Happy 4th! Pardon my bizarre behavior. Zzzzzzzzz

  3. I love the way you write. At first, I was totally taken aback by the almost-stream-of-consciousness-like quality to it because that’s what was frowned up on back when the teachers smacked my hand with a ruler in English class. You’re doing what someone stole from me a long time ago, and I should I think what I’m trying to say is that you’re kind of an inspiration? But that’s too weird.

  4. chelawriter says:

    Interesting reflection that artists and other creative people need limits or restrictions to be productive – I see that in some people, but for myself, I feel as though I’ve had to function inside too many constraints for too long and am delighted, now, to be free to write (and bead, and design) whatever I want, whenever and however I want. If what I write is too long for a blog post it becomes an essay or story to send elsewhere – or the start of another novel.

  5. Bella says:

    Interesting that I came here today and read this. I was thinking about the Vine thing, and the other one Keek, just this afternoon. Two of my kids use these video sites, and at the risk of sounding biases, I’m kind of impressed with some of the things they’ve put out there in just a few minutes.
    I feel as if the attention span issue and the ability to cram much into little have evolved together. It makes me wonder where it goes from here. Do the next 2 generations learn how to make things even more compact and succinct? Or does someone along the way develop a desire to go back to the ‘old school’ way of full sentences, words written out properly (not nite, BRB, and kool) and expressing one’s emotions without using smiley faces?

    I enjoy your thought process.


    • Thanks for the thought out comment!
      It’s definitely a big question for me, not so much in terms of art, but it terms of life, culture, human interaction etc. Will there be a sort of split in the futre over ‘traditional’ and ‘untraditional’ art? And what will the oldies even look like in 30 years? When I think about this stuff I always end up wondering what the ‘oldies’ radio stations will be like in the future… hopefully just not too much dubstep

  6. arbiterkitty says:

    Love it, love it, love it. You’re a pretty deep thinker :)

I put this box here if you feel like putting words in it.

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