Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Creative Life: Creativity is Subtraction

Technique Tuesday

Many people believe that if some is good, more is better. As exhibit A, I present super-sizing. Need I say more?

Austin Kleon's final point in his presentation, Steal Like an Artist, is, Creativity is Subtraction.
"It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting. What isn’t shown vs. what is.

"In this age of information overload and abundance, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s important to them."
Less is more: an uncluttered context highlights the creative work--why do you think art galleries have big blank walls?

Think about the creativity of subtraction.

Sculpture is clearly the art of subtracting the extra material hiding the finished form.

Music is the art of sounding only a few (usually) consonant tones out of all possible noises at any given time.

Film is fundamentally about selecting only those images that contribute to the story.

The best writing conveys powerful images, emotions, and ideas with a few, well-chosen words.

In all these cases, the artist creates a model that emphasizes some aspect of reality while minimizing (or ignoring) the rest of the complex world in which we exist. It is through selective focus that we create meaning.

If the subtractive principle of art is still not clear, let me leave you with the image of a Zen garden where a single stone and a bit of raked sand convey oceans of meaning.

From WikiMedia

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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