Friday, August 30, 2013

Using Resistance

A colleague and I were talking about the Ideation Cards (explanation in this post), since we both have used them to create work recently. She mentioned that she had tried to use some of the guidelines, but found that she rejected some of the cards in order to make a better book. I've heard similar sentiments from people who have been working with the cards, and I've sensed some guilt as they've admitted this. What is the transgression here, if there is one?

Perhaps this guilt or fear taps into our earliest formed notions of doing the assignment and doing it right. If you were taught that there is always a right answer and you just have to find out what the teacher wants, then perhaps you feel guilty when you veer in a different direction. You'll likely learn better by heading toward what you are interested in, rather than what someone wants you to do or learn. Perhaps the fear is residual worry about the power a teacher used to have over you, particularly when you were dealing with grades and were seeking approval. You have to be honest with yourself about what your goals are now and whose approval you are seeking. (I'm talking about a very specific situation where you are working willingly; yes, there are times you still have to go with the program.)

What isn't acknowledged is that by resisting something, you are still engaging with it. It gives you a starting point, something to push against. And sometimes your reaction will give you the emotional jolt you need to work. Perhaps you've experienced something similar to this: a girl asks her father what color something should be and he says red, and she says, no she doesn't like red she'll use blue. Just by weighing and considering the first suggestion, she's arrived at her answer.

It may be easier, when sorting through options, to put aside what doesn't grab you first—what you resist—rather than trying to choose what you want. Narrowing down the possibilities will make it easier, and you may get an idea from your resistance, or you may use your dislike of something to create a piece around it. The Ideation Cards, like other kinds of creative assignments, are meant to spark creation, not hinder it. And what you do or do not do with your art is nothing to feel guilty about.

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