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April 4, 2017 / Congau

Creative Chaos

Before the artist arrives there is chaos; nothing but scattered pieces that make no sense. To create is to make something out of nothing. To produce is to make something out of something. Art is creation.

Whenever something truly new is made, one has to take a leap out of the existing order. What is already neatly ordered can only lead in a preconceived and predictable direction. Computers are programmed to calculate the next step and thereby produce what is actually already there; nothing really new comes into being.

The builder who puts the bricks together according to the drawings of the architect, is like a computer; he produces, but he doesn’t create. The architect is the creator, but even his activity is only partly an act of creation for he also relies on the existing order of things; the conventions, expectations, routines and habits. Structure is needed to frame the ideas into a recognizable unity, but the ideas as such are conceived in chaos.

The two, chaos and order, are tightly connected throughout the creative process, but only chaos is truly creative. The artist has learned a certain technique, he has his organized way of doing things, he lives in a society, he follows certain conventions and he is disciplined. That is a necessary order and a part of his profession. The artist has perhaps developed habits of inciting inspiration. He goes for a walk in the forest, listens to music and reads the newspaper. That may be an ordered path to his ideas, but the ideas themselves don’t come from there.

We are all bombarded with impressions. Everywhere we turn we see another image and they reach us quite arbitrarily depending on where we happen to look. That is all chaos and there is not really any logic as to what emotions and ideas might pop up in our minds.

A robot has a predictable reaction; a certain image always produces a certain response. Pavlov’s dog always wants food when hearing the bell. We, human beings are also largely predictable creatures. We tend to act habitually, orderly and non-creatively and we have to exclude much of the surrounding chaos to stay sane. But whenever we actually create, we open up for some of that chaos and let it hit us unguarded and unfiltered. We only get new ideas when we are able to tear down our habitual thinking that puts things into predetermined categories. We only create when we let chaos be chaos.

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