Under the Fluorescent Light – an Introduction

Sigmund Freud in one of his psychoanalytical papers discussed Goethe’s first memory poet wrote in his autobiography, where little Johann Wolfgang encouraged by his neighbors threw dishes on the road, smashing them into pieces.

Oscar Wild wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray where the main protagonist had his secret, a painting which changed with every new “sin” Dorian Gray committed. The picture was of Dorian Gray who stayed youthful and beautiful forever while the one who was portrayed in the painting got older and uglier with every day.

New scanning technique exposed secrets behind great paintings. Researchers in the US discovered another painting underneath Pablo Picasso’s The Crouching Woman. The new x-ray fluorescence system allowed scanning the painting and seeing every layer of it in detail. It revealed that one painting was painted on top of another, a landscape became a portrait.

The famous Polish theater director Jerzy Grotowski got so involved in the process of studying his actors that he later realized he didn’t need an audience for his directed/conceived theater works. He became the sole observer of the creative process actors went through during rehearsals. Rehearsals became his main objective and from it his acting system was born, a theater school many actors and directors use while developing their theater works today. Yes, it has something to do with psychoanalysis. He asked his actors not to play characters, but confront those characters within themselves and offer the results of those encounters to an audience.

We read biographies, watch documentaries, but rarely are a part of an artist’s creative process, because what an artist usually gives us is the end outcome of their work. While I do appreciate the art pieces in their final state I love exploring changes they go through. I look for any kind of information about how, why and where one or another painting was painted, book was written, a theater piece was created. This curiosity sprang from my own creative process where I found myself writing pages upon pages about what inspires me to do my work, how I deal with creative challenges as somebody who is trying to solve this mystery of life, the purpose of it.

I started recording my rehearsals on video out of a need. Usually an actor gets notes about their acting from a director. In my case I was both. I found myself enjoying those videos with rehearsals as much if not more as the final shows I was putting on the stage.  In theater your creative process never ends, but in a way every “new” piece you create during a performance dies the second it is born. Theater, I believe, is the closest to experiencing both – the creative process and the final piece at once in real life.

All art forms have something in common. You read a novel which, most likely, went through multiple edits and drafts before reaching you. You see a painting which, most likely, was painted over a period of time. You watch a performance which, most likely, went through some grueling rehearsals before reaching you.

So what Freud, Goethe’s childhood memories, Wild’s Dorian Gray, the new scanning technology and the acting system have in common? They all reveal something that our naked eye cannot see right away. They shine a light onto a creative process.

It was Einstein who said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Imagination is stronger than knowledge.”

I am going to paraphrase William Arthur Ward’s quote: “If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it,” into: “if you can imagine something that something comes into an existence through that imagination. Imagination about knowledge – now that is something to imagine about.”

So why am I writing this blog? The driving objective is my genuine curiosity of how my mind works, what is hidden under those layers of “tough skin,” the aging/maturing process I go through with every new piece I create, be it a painting, a theater performance or a piece of literature. Here I become my own personal study of my whys and hows.

This blog is meant for people who are curious about creative process.

Every creation is life after death. Every art piece is a headstone for your grave reminding everyone that you were once living. So enjoy it and don’t forget to brush your teeth!

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