We’re playing a game, a game that we all can change, and it’s all about copying.

Image
Create and creativity have the same root which is the latin word creātus, the past passive participle from the verb creāre ‘to create’. Hence creativity is the ability to create. It doesn’t matter what you create. If you create you are creative.The verb in itself is from a Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms but it is in essence an old causative verb. Its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.

 

Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ and ‘crescendo’.The word “create” appeared in English as early as the 14th century to indicate divine creation. However, its modern meaning as an act of human creation did not emerge until after the Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment in the late 17th-century Europe emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Over the course of the last decades, we seem to have reached on a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products. But the truth is that creativity can also be defined “as the process of producing something that is worthwhile to someone” or “characterized by expressiveness and imagination”.The problem here is that we’ve been taught that originality is a basic characteristic of creativity. But the truth is that as creativity is a mind skill that allows us to make an idea in any area, the adjective original is just unapplicable due to it’s nature as a skill. Creativity is just something each one of us can develop for his/her persona.  Creativity is essentially not a kind of knowledge or science but, it is a skill kind, that may be improved through various methods. Hence, creativity is an almost steady ability to generate concepts with no time, age, kind, manner, way, technics, advantage, efficacy and subject limitation and restriction. That means, 1) that copying is one of the most valuable resources of creativity, and 2) that something creative is not necessarily or entirely new.

What is produced can come in many forms and is not specifically singled out in a subject or area, and of course it can be produced and distributed on an area outside high culture’s. That’s the reason why creativity isn’t something exclusive of the arts, and why it’s one of the main characteristics of the human being. The deal is that one of the fields with the greatest desire of possessing and owning everything is the one of art & culture industry, and one of their biggest claims is creativity, but they do not own it, no matter what they do.
Σαυτον ισθι (Nosce te ipsum or know yourself) is one of the Delphic maxims, and according to the greek travelogue Pausanias, it was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Description of Greece 10.24.1). Two other Delphic maxim are Γνωθι μαθων (know what you’ve learned) and Εχων χαριζου (give what you have). The first maxim I mentioned (and perhaps the most famous) can be achieved easier through creativity. Creating objects, texts, decors, pottery, etc, is a nice way of knowing ourselves. Only when you create is when you see yourself reflected on your creation. The word “creation” has been linked to god since the Genesis. Perhaps that’s why we believe that only a few can create. But the truth is that just as the bible claims that God created us on his image, when we create things we also do it based not on his image but on the image of our persona. That’s why creating is an excellent way of knowing ourselves. 
 
Since the renaissance (or probably even earlier) we’ve been working with the same ideas, and we even were granted more freedom when artists like Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine appeared. The second maxim I mentioned fits here, “know what you’ve learned”. We need to be conscious on how the act of copying feeds art, and how copying improves our creativity. We need to understand what we have learned, but more importantly, we need to accept it. The third maxim I mentioned, and perhaps the more important for an artist (or a person that’s struggling to establish him or herself as an artist), has to do with the acceptance of our uniqueness. The world is not the only one that needs to accept what we create, we need to accept it too. It’s the struggle of knowing yourself and knowing what you’ve learned, so you can know what you truly have, and figure out how to share it. We all have something to give, and perhaps the ones that successfully do it, no matter what they give, are the real artists. If we were all artists I’m sure art could change the world. But the way we’re doing it, I’m sure things will never change.

 

 

<alonso@prizon.mx>

 

Advertisements

The Myth of Acteon

Image

ὁρᾷς τὸν Ἀκτέωνος ἄθλιον μόρον,

ὃν ὠμόσιτοι σκύλακες ἃς ἐθρέψατο

διεσπάσαντο, κρείσσον’ ἐν κυναγίαις

Ἀρτέμιδος εἶναι κομπάσαντ’, ἐν ὀργάσιν.

(Look at Actaeon’s wretched fate

who by the man-eating hounds he had raised,

was torn apart, better at hunting

than Artemis he had boasted to be, in the meadows.)

The unalterable fact on Acteon’s myth is a hunter’s transformation into a deer and his death in the jaws of his hunting dogs. According to Callimachus, Artemis was bathing in the woods when the hunter Actaeon stumbled across her, thus seeing her naked. He stopped and stared, amazed at her ravishing beauty. Once seen, Artemis got revenge on Actaeon and forbade him to speak — if he tried he would be changed into a deer — for profaning her virginity’s mystery. Upon hearing the call of his hunting party, he cried out and immediately was changed into a stag. He fled deep into the woods, and doing so he came upon a pond and, seeing his reflection, groaned. His own hounds couldn’t recognize him with his new shape and turned upon him and tore him to pieces.

Actaeon is thought by many to symbolize ritual human sacrifice in attempt to please a God or Goddess. The dogs symbolize the sacrificers and Actaeon symbolizes the sacrifice. I first linked Acteon’s myth to art thanks to a book by Octavio Paz that changed my life on 2008. Several years later I bought the book again just to search it to find Paz’s metaphor between the figure of the artist and Acteon. This time I thought it was one of the most conservative books I had ever read and toss it away.

In relation to the hunter-hunted transmutation, I believe every emerging artist from the 21st century should focus on achieving it. According to Paz, every artist needs to shift from an observer to an observed figure. However, I believe Paz omitted a decisive fact. In order to complete the circle, the deer needs to be not only devoured, but unrecognized by the hunting dogs. That’s what I believe all the artists emerging on the 21st century should do: to be unrecognized and devoured by it’s watchers (at least the ones we’re aiming towards “changing” something).

The biggest myth in art is that creativity is something exclusive for artists. Since the french Academia, the art world had educated mankind to judge its works as something good if they can’t make it, and as something bad if they can. Artists deny they copy because they fear to be misjudge or unoriginal, when in fact, every artist on earth has copied another. And most important, we’ve all seen objects or works that are what we wanted to do (Actually that was the moment when we decided to become artists). So automatically people outside the art world considers themselves inferiors. They believe they can’t paint, experiment with space, sculpt, draw, take photos, etc, because what they do does not look like Helmut Newton’s or Rembrandt’s creations on the very first time they tried to make them (it’s pretty obvious for artists that this is impossible to happen, but actually our public believes that it does happen).

Basically our function on this planet has been reduced to make its population think they’re dumb. If someone had an idea before you, then it’s unoriginal, hence useless. People believe they do not have the right to create because they’re not good enough. They’ve grown hearing that their ideas do not matter in culture, because everything they like and understand is junk culture and needs to be forgotten. Things like football, pop music, Vanity Fair, Playboy, GQ, Cosmopolitan, or Vogue. This is actually quite funny, cause Alfred H. Barr always taught about art and culture using those magazines, and this was by the time the MoMA opened! And remember, it was MODERN art! So why do we keep anchors an still rely on the french academia after more than two hundred years?

Actaeon also may symbolize human curiosity or irreverence, and that’s why I’ve chose it’s figure for this text. There’s another enormous myth around art: A work of art can change the world. I do not understand how some people buy this shit. Artists won’t change a thing as long as they exist as a separate class. Artists and their helpers are the nobility of culture; we’re no different from Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, living the golden age inside galleries, museums, and even at “independent” spaces. The only way in which art can change the world is if it’s executed collectively by mankind. The question is, will artists finally let go art? or will we keep it in our hands for another two hundred years? I believe the art world won’t let go. That’s why I hope the world to guillotine us, and I’m definitely doing everything in my power for that to happen.

A.C. <alonso@prizon.mx>

You can participate on a discussion about The Myth of Acteon thread by joining integrity mailing list or by sending an e-mail to integrity@wiki.drik.mx  (Will need to be approved by one of the moderators).