What inspires you?

I’m participating in Fun-a-Day 2014, a daily art challenge through the month of January, committed to do a daily post here detailing some Big Art Idea or project that looms somewhere out in my future.

An advisor asked me a series of rhetorical questions that I am taking quite literally. Her next question was:

What inspires you?

This is an easier list to make. Everything inspires me, or seems to.

  1. imagesCoffee. Totally.
  2. Riding around on my motorcycle, I always get ideas. Especially after coffee. Of course, I can’t write them down while I’m riding, so sizable percentage are lost to the moment.
  3. Sunshine. Without it, I’m a depressed lump, but when the sun is shining, I’m all about it.
  4. Time alone. I’m a closet introvert, so while I can totally do people people people people people people, after that, I need lots of time by myself without interruption to recharge.
  5. Talented people around me. I’m excited to be in graduate school in UCSC’s Digital Art and New Media program where my world is now filled with mentors and peers who know a million things I don’t know and want to learn.
  6. Collaboration. I love working with amazing people who inspire me. When I work with others, the collaborative ideas we realize are better than what any one of us could have created alone. A question I ask a lot is this: How do you create collaborations that are satisfying and sustaining?
  7. Autonomy. The ability to go off in whatever crazy directions that strike me is critical.
  8. Texture. Texture in art, in food, in music. I love peeling paint and skritchy sounds. I love sushi and crunchy vegetables with creamy dip. I love old wood, chalky paint, wavy bubbly glass. I love texture so much it sometimes makes my teeth hurt.
  9. Minimal music. Wikipedia describes it like this: ” Prominent features of the style include consonant harmony, steady pulse (if not immobile drones), stasis or gradual transformation, and often reiteration of musical phrases or smaller units such as figures, motifs, and cells. It may include features such as additive process and phase shifting.” It is my love of minimalist music that seeded my interest in Indonesian gamelan.
  1. Tiny little worlds. Like dioramas. And little teeny sculptures. And little people doing stuff. This has always got me going, ever since 4th grade in which some overachieving student made a California History diorama so painfully detailed I wanted to get small and live in it.
  2. Emergent phenomena. Ants, bees, flocking and swarming, complicated kinetic sculptures,  economics, collaboration, traffic patterns, computer simulation — these are things that sometimes exhibit emergent behavior. Wikipedia again puts it better than I could: “In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” That is to say, you pour in a few simple things, rules, and contexts and magic comes out.
  3. Scavenging materials. I love finding the thing that is given up as valueless and putting it to use. My favorite kind of play is a Dump Date. I go to the dump with an empty truck and come back full. Old wood, rusty metal, tarnished brass, a worn out sawblade, an old propane tank, a busted chair. I can make all these things useful again.

Local-amenities-for-children-1-blogLocal Amenities for Children – Slinkachu – slinkachu.com/little-people

  1. People’s stories. I love to hear people’s personal narratives told in their own voices. I had a radio show for six years or so that created an aural collage of music and narrative. Even with the entire Internet before us, there are surprisingly few sources where you can hear people tell their stories. The Moth, Transom, StoryCorps, a few others maybe. That is a worthy question: How do you honor everyone’s story?
  1. Guerilla perfomance. Something about the unexpected street performance — whether scripted or un-, explicit performance or guerilla art intervention — really gets me. I can’t imagine anything more sublime than coming across an unannounced street performance of, say, Waiting For Godot.
  2. Parlor games. I love playing games that involve people and words and none of the bullshit of commercial games – gameboards, pieces, cards, etc (except maybe paper and pen). I imagine people sitting around a drawing room playing these games in a more civilized time. For the record, I created the game Secrets way back in 1997 or so. Ask me about it. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love it.
  3. Choice and chance. The way people make decisions, both through chance and through laboriously considered reasoning/rationalization. While I am not typically a person that makes decisions based on chance, for some reason the idea appeals to me. This has been a recuring theme in my work with my Prayer Machines and Decision-Makers.
  4. Sunlight on water.
  5. Music drifting from far away.
  6. Certain materials make me crazy. I’ll talk about that in the next article, I think.
  7. Playful exploration. I love playful adults. This is rarer than you would imagine, and why I think after 20 years I still find myself going back to Burning Man now and then. This is what I need to keep reminding myself: Don’t worry or try so hard. Just let yourself play and see where it goes. 
  8. That moment when everything looks different and rearranges itself in your mind. I love that. That might be my favorite thing ever. Call it recontextualization, maybe, or a tiny teeny glimpse at enlightenment.

What about you? What inspires you?

2 thoughts on “What inspires you?


    They walk into a room like there’s nowhere else to be, do their best to jump on top of the nearest thing to them, bake fearless and joyful into a pie of win, and couldn’t be bothered to judge anyone else.

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