The Spaces Between

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Image by Ladonite / Brendan*

Image by Ladonite / Brendan*

As a dancer and someone who frequently experiences works of art in many disciplines, I’ve come to see over the years that constraints are often more conducive to artists’ imaginations than so-called “freedom.” Let’s say you’re a choreographer working on a commission. If you know that the area of the stage is only so many square feet, the piece must last no longer than twenty minutes, and the budget will allow for just four dancers, then you are able to focus on one thing alone: how can you make the most complex and beautiful dance possible within these limitations? But does this suggest that embracing boundaries is also a valuable strategy for business, government, and other institutions? Continue reading

The Playful Imagination

Back Flip by JB London*

Back Flip by JB London*

“The mind revels in conjecture. Where information is lacking, it will gladly fill in the gaps.” ~James Geary (The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism [2005], 29)

I recently encountered this quotation and I began thinking about thinking. I love Geary’s concept of the “revelry” of the mind, the joyous commotion of an activated imagination. But how is such play precipitated? What in the nature of these gaps in knowledge invites the imagination? And what kinds of wonderful mischief take place there? What is it about a Picasso painting, for instance, that calls out to me and draws me into engagement with its play of meanings? I am tempted right away to consider the space of these gaps as analogous to a playground, and I realize that one essential quality of what I have experienced in my own encounters with works of art is playfulness. Continue reading