Monday, April 2, 2012

Collaboration– the Full Monty

In my previous post I alluded to my article coming about through circumstances that mirrored Andrew Pressman's description of the interesting results that can occur when free-wheeling collaborative efforts are at work. He explains that "The serious and sometimes accidental business of generating a good idea is enjoyable." This was certainly the case when Michael passed the Architectural Record article on to me. We had plenty of laughter and knowing glances at each other after the fact.

When he had first left the article on my desk, I noticed immediately the couple of sentences he had yellow-highlighted for my review. The first sentence ("...enjoyable") was the one I quoted above. The other was this:
Collaboration resulting from
the vagaries of Real Life
(on the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

"Describing the process Monty Python used to develop comedy sketches, John Cleese said, 'The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not very good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting.'"

I believe that what Michael was wanting me to see was Pressman's lauding the serendipitous nature of good results in the production of art. Michael and I have spoken often of this principal, and I have written several posts here on such, so it was interesting to see someone else's (Pressman's) take on this. But a further interesting thing was this: beyond the simple serendipity connection, the article was mainly about collaborative effort.

As I read through the article, the gears began to turn in my head, and I found myself rapidly formulating an article on the collaborative nature of my own "solo" artistic pursuits (previous post). This was not Michael's intent, of course, but fully in parallel with John Cleese's description of the amazing twists and turns that usually occur for "...something really rather interesting."

The Pressman article had a couple of other statements that also piqued my interest. He quotes Scott Simpson, principal and senior director at the Cambridge, Massachusetts office of KlingStubbins: "Collaboration is an attitude more than a process..." and it can "...add richness and depth to the project, but this means that ego must take a back seat." There is no question that this is the case. One must be truly open to relating to individuals, thoughts, and circumstances from outside one's self to reap these rich and deep gifts.

Finally, Pressman quotes Len Charney, head of practice at the Boston Architectural College– "It's not technology, it's psychology." Though Charney here is speaking primarily of architectural practice, I believe this principle is certainly germane to the photographic arts as well. So often, I hear fellow photographers, enthusiasts, and patrons ask about what equipment and processes I use in my art. They want to know the number of megapixels, the model of lens, jpeg/tiff/raw formats, printer profiles, etc. It causes me to wonder if, when they view a fine painting, they are compelled to ask the artist: "What brand and sizes of brushes did you do you mix your tight did you stretch the canvas?"

Although all of these technical matters are certainly important and influence the resulting art, it doesn't seem they should overshadow the "psychological" aspects of the result. What the artist was thinking or feeling at the time she produced the painting (or photograph) would seem more significant. Or even– "what do I think or feel as a viewer of this work of art?"– would be a much more important question to ask than: "Is that canvas made of linen, cotton, or a 50/50 poly-blend?" 

1 comment:

Michael A Guevara said...

Brillant! Glad to share...

As artist we find our shelves travelling down a path of creativity guided by our experiences and emotions that act as the catalyst to inspiration, yet it seems to escape us that we are part of a larger experience that is in existence..."the universe" which in my opinion, is never wrong, it only exist and is, just as my art does. It's not dependent on any medium, "technique" or materials ect but exist only in the "now."

Very well written entry Bill, thanks for sharing!