For the somanauts, artists and designers logging onto this blog…
There has been much to celebrate and feel inspired by in the way of visionary ideas presented at TED and for thus of us in the arts and design, two of the best speakers on beauty and creativity gave us ever more reason to remember to create from the “inside out.” Especially after witnessing the tired march of patriarch genius artists led by (now former) Guggenheim Museum director Thomas Krens, it was a relief to hear Yves Behar and Amy Tan each speak on what sparks their idiosyncratic lives. I for one felt both Behar and Tan spoke for all artists and inventors, men AND women who can testify to the deep aesthetic satisfaction one receives by drawing from one’s own wellspring of curiosity and confusion with life on Planet Earth. Clearly these two artists understand what it means to rescue ideas and feelings from places deep inside the cells, tissues and neural connections of their body/minds.
For Behar and Tan, maybe it was the gift of learning how to connect the past to the present, of growing up in homes with utterly different values and aesthetics than those representing a normative, American mainstream habitat filled with emotional repression and bland, lifeless decor. Behar spoke about the childhood influence of a home made beautiful with Turkish furniture and carpets. He pointed to his playful inspection of animals, battle and love scenes that wove tales of conquest and delight. Tan, with tongue planted playfully in cheek, used quantum mechanics theory to discuss her creative process (a riff on the particle physics presentations that had been given on days prior). Pointing to neurotic family influence as one plausible theory for her literary search for “dark matter,” Tan named her narrative process as one that starts with the search for personal meaning.
How refreshing it was to hear two world-class “imagineers” admit to the stuff that is often at the heart of the creative process, despite what young grad students studying po—mo, lit.crit might tell you. Sure, these two have received enough professional recognition to insure the safety of their confessions. But to speak to the importance of placing ones own values into a work of art to touch the user – that takes a perspective large enough to encompass more than one’s own narcissistic point of view. To paraphrase Behar, ‘it’s not just the value of the object that matters, it’s the values you put into the object, of designing the whole experience from the inside out.” Those of us at TED are now lucky to be touched by Behar’s vision. Look for a TEDster sporting Behar’s latest design for Jawbone – a sleek, luminescent Bluetooth prosthetic that will be the envy of every jewelry designer on the block!
And speaking of creating from the inside out, origami strategist Robert Lang took the art of folding paper to a new level of high math requiring the smarts of a system’s analyst to figure out the self-assembly algorithms of the folds. Model builders rejoice! (or beware!)
May the Breath Be With You!
M. A. from L. A. a.k.a. Dr. G. blogging on TED 2008