One Thing Leads To Another

Let’s put the creative horse before the cart. You may not know what rewards are in store. But, invariably, one thing leads to another.

Degree of Collaboration

A few years ago, I put on a live music event that incorporated elements of dance. One of the dancers was a student in her last year at university. She invited me to create a soundtrack for her final degree piece.

This dancer is also a fine artist. After graduating, she was awarded a residency at a local arts studio. At the end of this, she was to put on an exhibition of her works in the studio’s gallery. For this, she decided she would, once again, collaborate with other artists.

Different Perspectives

So, we met in early 2020, to discuss ideas for the exhibition. Her vision was to create something that reflected our different perspectives: her as an artist starting out in professional life; me as someone who has – for want of a better term – been around the block a couple of times.

We came up with the method of interviewing our respective friends and contacts. Their responses would form the basis of a soundscape, which I would create to accompany the visual works. In this way, a piece would be generated that reflected our differing circumstances, without being present ourselves. 

Creative Responses to Challenges

It turned out the best way to achieve this was to send out a list of questions and ask participants to record their responses on whatever device was at hand. For most people, of course, this would be a mobile phone. However, the quality of audio would vary according to the actual phone used, the acoustics of the space in which the recording was made and any ambient noise in the  background.

I was happy that these variations would provide technical challenges in blending and mixing the voices. I also knew that these challenges would help to trigger creative responses in building the resulting soundscape. What I didn’t know, at that time, was that we were about to be plunged into lockdown.

Extra Layer

As work began – and the recordings started to come in – we were already well into the first Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. So, this added an extra layer of social context to the participants’ contributions. And, of course, I too was immersed in the strangeness of what was happening to us all.

Before long, it became clear that the exhibition, originally scheduled for the summer, was unlikely to proceed. However, by this time, I was already invested in the creative process. I’d devised a method for combining and editing the voice recordings. And I had started to build a soundscape around these.  So, I ploughed on, regardless of whether or not the exhibition would take place.

Intrinsic Value

And here is the crux of what it means to be ‘an artist’, whatever your chosen discipline. In the main, artists create work for its own intrinsic value. Naturally, in most cases, an audience completes the work. However, whether or not there is an intended audience, the work is its own reward.

So, with no specific deadline or outlet for this audio production, I continued; thoroughly absorbed in the creative possibilities it provided. And – once complete – there it sat, largely unheard. Until, a few months ago, I received a call for submissions for an audio installation. This is a curated audio exhibition for an arts festival. The theme of which is the precarious state in which our society currently find itself.

A Life of Its Own

Now, my work, which started life as a collaborative project for an art installation, will have a life of its own. It could easily have been shelved and forgotten. However, the impulse to complete it, for its own sake, has meant it was finished and ready when an opportunity for presentation arose.

As a creator, one can often have the sense of working alone in the dark. It can sometimes feel self-indulgent to be spending long ours on something that is, to others, a ‘mere’ hobby. However, without this toil and commitment, there would be no end product to share. And, every so often, that sharing leads to recognition, appreciation and broader communication.

Shared Experience

Sadly, we are conditioned to see the value of something, primarily, in terms of the money it generates. But, for most of us, the truly valuable things in life are not quantifiable in this way. And, very often, these will comprise some form of shared experience.

Ultimately, what we know as ‘art’ facilitates such shared experiences. Working creatively with children, we provide them with the experience of exploring together. This then leads to sharing what they have created. And, in many cases, the process will generate some form of mutual understanding, whether of one another or the subject of their endeavours – or both.

One Thing Will Lead to Another

Through the creative process, we learn that concrete outcomes come from abstract thought. Ideas lead to actions. Actions lead to reactions.

In a nutshell – keep creating and one thing will lead to another.

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Just Do One Thing

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