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Confessions of a hybrid artist

Most people are readers. Without readers writers do not exist. To be known the writer needs exposure and publicity. Exposure can be established through media or by word of mouth. Every strategy that is used in art and design, from meaning to enchantment, is thus equally used for establishing the visibility of the writer and his work.

The profession of the writer has its roots in an ancient past. Its essential qualities are part of oral tradition and society. They belong to the art of storytelling. Nowadays the story reflects the intimate view of the writer and his outlook on life and times today. The modern story and its themes are personal and thus subjective. They are made to act and serve as the reflection of an individual state of mind as a form of one-to-one communication.

The origin of quality

In ancient times the story was not a reflection of personal experience. It was part of a collective experience which was distributed by means of myth. Mythology reflected the views of a society about the events that made up its history. History was constituted by tales and stories about the creation of the universe, the world, mankind and society itself. These myths were transmitted by oral means. 

The role of the storyteller was embedded in a society that did not use the written word as a means of communication. Storytelling was a commonly practiced art. Most audiences knew these stories by heart and would protest if even the smallest part of the story would be changed. The story did not belong to the storyteller. It was public property. 

Such stories were a sort of Moses baskets that made insights, knowledge and wisdom survive over great distances of space and time. Scientist have found evidence that these stories and tales were of a very exact nature. When the Rosetta Stone and other ancient text were translated and compared with oral histories collected by social researchers they were impressed. They were impressed by the fact that these remnants of different sources were incredibly the same. In fact a form of noise or loss was absent or so small it could be neglected. A rare quality that is hard to find today.

The vehicles of memory

We have developed into a society that is dependant on the written word and on media. A change that has had an enormous impact on modern society. With the loss of orality society has suffered from a subsequent loss of memory. Memory in the sense of a personal and internal quality and capacity. We have become dependant on external media as the vehicle for internal and collective memory. 

As such is the state of things this does not mean that the value of the story belongs to the past. The vehicles may change, the responsibility of the storyteller has always remained the same. Which is, to make an inherent message survive by making an impression that is unforgettably. The storyteller, in modern times: the writer, has to be exact. He has to be exact in order to be true to himself and true to the story. This can only be done by developing an insight into the nature of audiences.

The best way to take care of this situation is to test the effects of a story on different audiences and in different circumstances. Itís like testing a website: test, enhance, ad infinitum. If this is not possible one has to rely on raising insight on audience and circumstance by means of study and other types of research. In the end all vision depends on talent, education, consciousness and experience.

The quicksand of literacy

All communication relies on principles and limitations. We who write words on paper believe that by this very act others will be able to understand the meaning of these words in the same way as we do. Practice shows enough examples to prove the opposite. Communication, verbal or by media, is a minefield of misunderstandings. The easier it seems, the more complex it might be in reality.

The professional writer uses his tools and insights to reach his goals. These goals might belong to selfexpression, history and documentation, journalism, commercial copy writing, scientific writing or belong to administrative purposes. As writing is one of the basic elements of literacy and a common practice, the simple act of writing gives way to the idea that there is nothing special about it. Still all depends on the consciousness and the energy of the originator to make a message be received in good order. In fact the same counts for the audience who receives the message. They are dependant themselves on their level of understanding and receptiveness.

It is the responsibility of the writer, independent from goals and media, to understand the impact that is part of and belongs to this awareness. The nature of the message should be multidimensional in order to survive. In this way different audiences can receive the message on different levels of understanding. In order to be distributed correctly, the message has to start with a surface meaning that appeals to a large or a specified audience. In order to sink in and be of value the message should also relate to other levels of meaning than the surface alone.

The complexity of culture

Designers, artists and photographers are not writers. They belong to the practice of the imagemaker. Which does not mean that they can not be storytellers. The image transmits its meaning without words, but relates to the domain of feeling. Feelings are a much faster mode of transmission than the intellectual mode. In fact image evokes another receptiveness by stimulating a more direct response. Still the message can be truth or fiction.

To stand firmly with our feet on the ground in the environment of the communication industry, we need to have a background with its roots in culture. All culture. To develop a greater awareness and insight in the nature of communication, the designer must be able to see the differences and similarities in all practices of communication. Such knowledge can only be developed through and by a personal need, a thirst, to know. To understand the complexity of oneís own practice is a basic quality. To be able to communicate our insights is a matter of development.

Designers are visual literates, who perform on the level of intuition. Such performance might be correct on the level of creation. This does not mean that it is easy to explain this proces to others. For the outsider the steps that guide this proces arenít obvious.
To be able to educate our clients, colleagues and audiences, we have to be clear about our intentions. As well towards ourselves and towards the others that surround us.

To do or not to do

In order to develop a feeling of understanding in the environment we operate in and evoke acceptance for our proposals and ideas we have to make things clear. This mode of practice includes the presentation of the choices and considerations that served as stepping stones inside the proces. We can strengthen our performance by learning from the practice of the writer.

The writer starts his work by creating an outline or an overview. To make the reader understand his point of view the writer has to put himself, in return, inside the point of view of the reader. To adjust to this other level of perception delivers the guidelines for the development of style, tone of voice and their levels of simplicity or complexity that are needed to establish correct and exact results in the outcomes.

To develop our personal performance we need to consider our personal efficiency to communicate. To achieve efficiency we have to make a choice that is immediate. A choice that leaves no room for trial and error. It is the choice between to do or not to do. To try is correct on the level of experiment. To perform to our highest limits we have to develop the insight, certainty and expertise to act. To act we need to be prepared.

To do or not to do is a personal choice. There can be no creation without being personal and developing our individuality. As silence is higher than speech, there are no easy solutions. Which doesnít mean that a challenge is a problem. Challenge is related to situations and is asking us to take a stand. We can only meet demands by being on the alert. 

To be true to ourselves and our audience, we need to be honest and develop simplicity. Simplicity is the result of an awareness that there is a difference between theory and practice. This knowledge can be a hindrance or an advancement. Modesty is a quality, which goes beyond words and can only be taught by experience and insight. In order to have something to say, we must live a life we can call our own. In fact life is the greatest challenge, not art, nor literature.

Artificial Paradises | Roland Barthes | Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson | Robert Bly | Boid | Citystories | Colors Magazine | Chomsky | Connyphoto | Collaborative writing | Contentious | Critical | Dstory | Duchamp | Oriana Fallacci | TheFray | GrammarIdeasThatMatter | William James | Jamming | Logos | Henry Miller | Myth | Anais Nin | Semiotics | Screenwriting | Idries Shah | Susan Sontag | Storycenter | Tao Te Ching | Territories | Things that work | Tough | Who dreams in text | Webwriting | Writing Workshop | You Grow Girl | Marguerite Yourcenar | Zeldman <



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