Imagine you could soar past your fears. Journey to worlds beyond understanding. Pull dust out of thin air, and turn it into gold … Johan Minnebo explores the artistic process in search of a theory that makes the loaded field of creative conceptual thinking more accessible, fun & kind for everyone. Will he ever find it? Scroll down to find out.
For as long as I can remember I looked up at the stars. How do they do it? How do they shine so bright? Why do some never fade, while many burn out almost instantly? This Summer I had the opportunity to study under some of the biggest, known in the Western Hemisphere.
Night after night they helped me grow. My curiosity brought me to entirely new frontiers. I studied giants from decades past. And with the help of my students I traveled back in time to the moments that changed my trajectory.
New perspectives brought new realities. And ultimately a new mission for me to embark on: Finding the formula that turns dust into gold ...
The complete story of A=R*S
This past year I was simultaneously a teacher, student, ánd practitioner in the field of creative communications. In my practice as a teacher I don't get the typical 'art profile' students. Our students often have no idea what they want to become, there is no selection procedure for either motivation, skill, or talent in place. And to top it all off, there is barely any time foreseen for nurturing artistic thinking in the big, broad, communications curriculum.
You could see this as a handicap, but I see it as an opportunity. Limitations breed possiblility. Brazillian footbal players have exceptional ball control precisely because they play futsal (a type of football with a heavier, smaller ball). We put people on the moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. I believe my current situation will eventually result in better creative teaching methods, smarter practices. And those are what I set out to find.
The oppressive nature of freedom
The main barrier for my students (or any beginning creatives) I would argue, is not skill but confidence. A willingness to play. To boldly claim freedoms in the process of making. So, I researched how exactly the context of the school, and the teacher//student power imbalance affects creative performance and entrepreneurship. Then, I explored various methods of giving my students freedom, inpiring them to set themselves free, and to find their own voices. But ...
"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be." – James Baldwin
This proved to be a lot harder than I thought. Most of us crave simple straightforward solutions. Sadly creativity is anything but that. Paradoxically any attempt to prove that something can be easy, makes those who attempt feel worse about themselves. "it's so simple, yet I can't do it ... I must be really bad." So, inspired by my students, I decided to approach this problem like an ad campaign. Find the emotion (frustration) tell a relatable story (creativity is in fact hard) and sell them on a simple solution (the promise of a magic silver bullet that 'turns dust into gold'.), and gradually make them more open to the process, in the moment, and aware of the wealth of possibility all around them. Creating a mix of neurobiological insight, pedagogy, self-help-book-wisdom, philosophy, and advertising student resources.
This then became the outline of a book, and a mini-exhibition inspired by the visual codes from popular science communication, and surrealist interactive spaces like Meowwolf's "Omega Mart". The entire exhibition is an ongoing conversation that has only just begun, dressed up as a space control center that looks suspiciously similar to the computer classrooms I often teach in.
Why I believe this is relevant for you
The worlds of creativity and artistry are on the verge of an AI-driven revolution, Tools and resources like DALL-E, Lumniar, Github CoPilot, TouchDesigner, School Of Motion, Skillshare, Pexels, Unsplash, Fiverr, Miro, Figma, Blender, ... or even Canvas are giving every one of us creative superpowers none of the great masters could have dreamt of. In the coming decade, more than ever, the pressure will be on the thinking, and how we tell our stories. "Aaand when everyone's super ... no one is." —Syndrome, Incredibles, the.
With Art is Rocket Science, I aspire to share what I have learnt in my lucky, privileged career so far—and what my students continue to teach me, every day—so we can all become more interesting, empathic, and caring creatives. Pushing our species and our planet forward. Or, alternatively, at the very least you'll get a somewhat entertaining peek into my mind.