The love you take
Imagination can be innate, like a reflex-or more so, like breathing, or a heartbeat. Something that sustains, is essential to living, but as natural as the seasons, as walking. The everyday imagination. There’s an element of ritual here, a systematic practice that, through regular performance, enables a kind of heightened sense to come into play. From the mundane, the magical. This kind of conjuring can happen in the most ordinary of situations-on a commute, throughout the day, in dreams, the shower, a meeting . . . this is where the mind can weigh possibilities, consider the unknown, take a wander through the hidden pathways of potential ways and means to bring thought to form.
Here’s a few simple approaches that don’t need much more than a notebook and pen or pencil (or even a phone) to play, experiment and think wherever and whenever you are.
Overheard conversations-on a bus, a tube, a train, the street . . . words, snippets of sentences, phrases . . . by collecting these found poetic nuggets (a notebook, a pen/pencil) we can build a body of text that is vibrant, funny, enlightening: all of these things are ways of giving up control, allowing for serendipity and chance to find its place in working methods, and here that aspect is heightened to the point of the absurd. The results, when not nonsensical, can be as revealing and profound as the most reasoned argument. And sometimes even beautiful.
Something that most affected the way I see the world was a tutor suggesting that I try to see the intersecting lines and connecting patterns in the everyday. The way branches intersect a window frame containing reflections as light glints over telephone lines . . . how the painted lines on a road overlap cracks, inlaid with manhole covers, scattered with leaves . . . begin to see the shapes and lines that underlie the mundane and use these compositions-translate them to grids and utilise them almost as musical notation- to influence aesthetic and contain words and images in ways that provoke and engage.
Music transcends and forms a soundtrack to life: again, on a journey, a train, an airplane window, rainy streets in autumn twilight-notice the rhythms and changes, the way a context (theme) can cause a chain of events from seeming unrelated incidents. This way a narrative can form, the ability to link one thing to another and create stories, a language, a world.
Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies are a superbly simple, practical way to galvanise ideas. Around 100 cards in a box, each with a word or phrase to help get through a stuck moment, or a difficult inception, or just to take a project in an unexpected direction.
Mapping out projects in a practical way, like a recipe or a set of instructions, might sound counter to the impulse towards serendipity, a sense of unconditioned freedom, but it allows for a certain instinctive emotional sensibility to infuse the work: if something has a strong framework that stands solid, then it allows for play and extension into a multitude of adaptive and iterative states. Giving things a grid-like structure based on things like the Fibonacci sequence/Golden section, or musical approaches like Schoenbergs 12 tone method, or using your own systems (I use divisions of 7) can both inspire and enable work to flourish in multiple ways, especially if its about making sequences or series of things.
Dreaming, reverie, meditation, wandering . . . letting the mind roam where it will without time limits, without notation or recording or constrained by place (at a desk, on a walk, anywhere) is both a fuel and a spur to ingenuity that stimulates and motivates imagination. It’s the state in which things can fully form as a total object in the mind. The only thing then is to bring it to fruition as a thing in the world . . .