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Creating Spaces

Production and the Creative Spirit

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Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 6:37AM   |  15 comments
Turn this nothing into something

Blog written by Ann Michel and Phil Wilde from Insights International
Something out of nothing.

Isn’t this what artists do?

The writer confronts the blank page. The photographer uses a lens to capture and invent imagery from everywhere and anywhere. And the musician starts with just the air and fills it with sound. 

In the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival's  Make Open Space remix contest, you are not starting with nothing.

You are starting with something: a folder full of elements and artwork. You are starting with a stated purpose: make a new trailer for FLEFF.

And of course, you are starting with your own creativity. 

Use it.  Share it. 

Let us all experience something we would not otherwise have seen.  Make something. 



"Something out of nothing.

Isnít this what artists do?"

I'd argue it never is. They may begin with a blank medium, but that is all that's blank. Everything else: the tools, the environment, memory, senses - all these things are full of inspiration. If we count this as "nothing" then similarly, this project is turning nothing into something: you have a "folder full of elements and artwork" to put on an empty final cut pro timeline. Empty.

I agree with Peter. The very act of nothing, or physical fact of nothing, is in itself something. It is impossible to be in nothing. The act of not thinking, as one's mind is settled such as in meditation, is the smooth lake that drinks the world around it, returning only ideas. It is frm this that the folders and elements of art arise.

Ann and Phil,

Certainly every artist is fascinated with this foundation of "blank" or nothing when they step out to begin creating. But I'm really questioning something else right now... the move from nothing to community.

I once realized while wandering through the streets of Seville that all the art there could never compare to a moment well spent with a friend.

Can art create a community? And can the communities we are fabricating online ever compare to the physical communities of our lives?

Dear Billy Hearst,

You are quite right about a REAL community - I don't think the on-line world can ever or should ever REPLACE the real thing - but it does AUGMENT - it's a gigantic library - a great reference - we can Wikipedia from the streets of Seville and get information, definitions, answers, directions, perhaps, though at the expense of the unknown pleasures of accosting strangers, striking up conversations, and taking risks.

Hmmm. Interesting. I wonder, though, with this ability to create our own empires are we distancing ourselves from responsibility?? Is this simply a continuation of the Monroe Doctrine where we have numbed ourselves to the consequences of control and power - we are all now conquerors of digital space, but it seems to cost us nothing and thus we feel entitled or free to treat it carelessly and likewise its members disrespectfully...
A physical library in a community allows us to remove ourselves (physically) from our customary geographical environments and enter another which seems neutral. We can take out any number of books, but the books aren't ours - we share them with other members of the community. The wear and tear on the books only remind us that we are entering into a contract with the community that has enjoyed those books rather than escaping into a space of entitlement, hedonism, or egoism...
It isn't "real", but is it replacing that which is real? and is it hindering us from maturing into members of "reality"?

Hi William again,

Well anonymity, and the use of aliases, is one very effective way to distance oneself from responsibility.

And the ease with which we can navigate digital spaces somehow cheapens those spaces - we do not perhaps value them the way we do actual objects that we are consciously borrowing, and sharing with other people. We work from cocoons, sometimes hiding behind false fronts, creating spaces for ourselves in which we feel SAFE, even from those invisible others, while still inviting them in to share our thoughts, respond, blog. We operate from a position of power and control, reaching out - as the Monroe Doctrine allowed us to expand geographically, exerting our power unilaterally.

But, what's in a name? Your real name. my real name? Why not use it?

hahahaha. Sure - why shouldn't I use my name? I guess the ability to become an idea is ultimately what is interesting to me, AND false about the internet communities we are creating.

I was reading a book today where the author pointed out that our insistence upon safety in today's world is perhaps asking for exaggerated violence... are we asking for chaos by allowing ourselves to live in false digital space rather than "real" physical space? We spend our time online and this cheapens our existence. We sink into apathy, and finally, the extreme is necessary for our awakening.


Yours, William H.

Dear Idea,

I'm glad to hear that you read books!

We are as a society, currently very risk averse, (hugely thanks to our litigious ranks) and have always, as human beings, been fascinated by extremes - think of the heroic epics, the great myths - the stories of great feats - these are the tales that endure.....

I think it's a conceit that hiding in digital spaces creates chaos - we are quite capable of creating plenty of chaos without doing this. Perhaps the chaos only exists in the mind of the isolated web surfer, alone and entertained by the fantastic -
and that craving for extremes remains in his imagination, and does not leak out into "reality"
think of the horrific fairy tales we tell small children - about kids being eaten by witches, locked up in dungeons, etc. We seem to crave these tales.
Certainly a handful of psychopaths will "go too far", but I see the digital world and the way people inhabit it, as no different than the ways we inhabit all the open spaces of the imagined.

What is "real", anyway?

What do you mean when you say "take nothing and turn into something"? Ideally you can just take raw images, edit them, publish them, and BAM you have "something". but what is it? well its simply a composite of images with sound and lighting. That's it. Does it take more then a film maker to take something ordinary and tern into something extraordinary? I don't think so. The consumer is the one who takes all this information in and turns into something meaningful. That's all a film really is,information. Andy Warhol once said " give me a soup can, and I will give you art" It really wasn't him taking nothing and making it into something, it was the viewers, the consumers, who were doing that.

To ironically steal something from the movie Inception:

"Look when I say 'don't think about elephants.' What's the first thing you think about?"


"Yes. But you know it isn't your idea. The subject's mind can always trace the genesis of an idea."

I think that creating something out of nothing can be similar. It's hard to find an idea that is completely unique, and some people argue that an idea can't be unique and can never be completely your own. I agree that there is no such thing as a completely "original" idea; all things are inspired from something. However, I think that there IS such thing as "unique." You can take something that's been done a hundred times before and make it uniquely your own.

When I saw the blank white space with the caption "turn this nothing into something" it reminded me of the Jackson Pollock paintings that I have recently been studying in my Gender and Visual Culture course at Ithaca College. If any artist were to embody "turning nothing into something" it would be Pollock. He confronts his canvas or blank page-using his canvas has the result of his expression of masculinity. As he forcefully throws down paint onto a canvas, transforming a white piece of cloth into layers of dripped paint-he in turn is creating a piece of art that proves his dominance and strength.

Nicely done

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