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The Soul of the Artist

Something about being an artist is ancient. It is some unnamed mantle of a secret craft that settles on our shoulders as we walk the path that countless others have walked before us—and that countless others will walk after we are gone. Sometimes we sense that our creativity comes through us, not from us. In our daily discipline, we tune into and tap a certain mystery , which whispers that all ideas are good and that imagination is the true and only power in the universe. Forget electrons! Give me imagination.

Pablo Picasso said, "What good are computers? They can only give you answers." Indeed, it is the questions that are important, not the answers. The questing mind and the imagination are all that is useful and needed for creation. The decline of imagination in the face of the seeming omnipotence and arrogance of technology is easily illustrated. During the Senate hearings after the Apollo 1 disaster that killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, astronaut Frank Borman was asked why the accident had happened. His thoughtful answer was this: "It was a failure of imagination. We were preparing to deal with a capsule fire 180 miles above the earth. We never imagined that one would happen in a simulated test on the launching pad."

The hidden shadow of technology lies in an arrogance that discounts the principles of imagination. Technology cannot synthesize imagination. And as a consequence of the addictive reliance solely upon technology tools, to the exclusion of traditional artistic disciplines, we allow our true power as artists, our imaginative capability, to drain out like water from a cup with a hole in the bottom. We will never contain the muse this way.

When Karl Krause said, "Science is spectral analysis. Art is light synthesis!", he was speaking of the exclusive ability of the artist to create a synthetic reality that transcends mere science and the technical wonders of our time. The computer tools at our disposal are precision instruments that can create absolutely stunning approximations of reality. However, as Alberto Giacometti said, "the object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity." Simply using computer tools to reproduce what we see is not enough to claim our place on the path.

When Albert Einstein, the goliath of science, speaks, we must listen to his words:

The finest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion, which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.

In Einstein's words, we find our mission as artists: to help the people in the world around us feel amazement and wonder. In the context of mystery and emotion, technology tools must take their place beside the humble crayon. No better, no worse, no kidding!

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