Friday, June 12, 2015

The Next New Thing?

I know my mouth was pulled into an uncharacteristic, self-satisfied smirk - I couldn't help myself. I was watching my arch-rival (or so I thought) as he read my Creative Writing Competition entry with widened eyes, and what sounded like comments of awe.
          The entry didn't win the contest, but I was convinced that this was because my ideas were too radical - so out of the box that they'd jumped onto a new plane, invisible to the lower minds of the judges. And I validated all these thoughts with just the look of respect I'd recieved from a fellow-teenage with his own meagre experiences.

That was more than three years ago, and today, as I felt that same satisfied smirk crease my face again, I was about to come to the same conclusions about my creative ability - that my art is just out of this world.
     This time, the object of my pride wasn't a contest entry, but an idle doodle that had turned into an intense art project. But then I really looked at this doodle - this picture of the earth, and Jesus, and an aloe vera plant/ fiendish fire of hell - and I doubted the creativity here.
       Yes, I'm fairly certain that the Jesus-aloe vera combination hasn't been done before (I'm making it sound more blasphemous than it looks - really), but is the never-been-done-before aspect the only requisite for creativity, for art?
      Anyone can put two highly improbable ideas together and that can be original/new, but is that creativity? Is that art?
I mean, just because something is out of the box of conventionality, doesn't mean it is creative and artistic. My doodle of Jesus and aloe vera, for example.
Can you spot the Jesus?

Art has to mean something - it isn't just the inane juxtaposition of random ideas that haven't been put together before. If the unconventionalism in your art is just for the sake of being unconventional, it's not art anymore - it's just an empty clash of vague ideas, like the output of a scrambled computer.

For years, I've heard the cry to think out of the box, to innovate, and create new things, but I've never once heard anyone tell me to create something meaningful. I've been "thinking out of the box," "and creating new things" this entire time, but I haven't really been doing these two things with an end goal of creating meaning.
       My aforementioned contest entry was a mess of ideas - Robin Hood meets Lady Gaga meets Oliver Twist - without any clear ultimate meaning or purpose. It was flamboyant, but empty.
          My doodle, as already described, was about the "decaying fungus of humanity in hell" and Healing. Again, I didn't really put those together the way they needed to be put together - instead, I garishly pasted two different figures of healing (Jesus, and Aloe Vera) on top of the "fungus" - juxtaposing them, but not really giving the whole thing any real meaning.

So far, for me, art has just been about creating new things that no one has ever thought of before. Somewhere along the way, the "innovating," "creating," and "thinking outside the box," became more important than the end result of creating something meaningful.

I'm really only speaking for myself here, but it is possible that, in this world of social media and the rapidly changing trends, art is more about being the next "new" thing, rather than the next meaningful thing.