It was Monday evening at the beautifully restored Vogue Theatre and Brian Eno, the Wizard - musician, visual artist, writer, and evangelical atheist, was going to let us peek behind the curtain and perhaps open a door or two. The audience was packed with artists, critics, musicians, fans and other curious publics who had gathered to experience what was being billed as an Illustrated Talk. Given that Eno had just opened the installation exhibition of 77 Million Paintings in Calgary's Glenbow, and that he had been brought to Vancouver by International Art Initiatives and The Vancouver Art Gallery, the talk in Vancouver was expected to be centered around the exhibition. However Eno surprised us all and perhaps himself by deciding to give another talk a half hour before his time to speak. The former Roxy Music Glam Rock star, clearly at ease with a large audience was about surf on the edge and surrender at least a bit to the creative moment.
What the audience experienced was ecology of the thought that flows through 400 years of western consciousness into Brian Eno's creativity and interconnects his artistic process with so many contemporary artists, musicians, and political activists now on the cultural frontier of social innovation. I suppose nothing less was to be expected from an acknowledged cultural icon and visionary. For nearly 40 years, the Wiz has been generating entertaining, engaging, complex, elegant, and compelling creative works across several disciplines that play between the conceptual boundaries and sensibilities of so-called high and pop art.
In a decisively non-technical and unpretentious presentation, ideas were conveyed with an fittingly awkward flipping of transparencies, quickly drawn sketches and moments of humourous self-depreciation. The Illustrated Talk not only outlined the pivotal moments in history and creative principles that have generated Eno's impressive achievements, it slipped the audience almost imperceptibly into an immersive experience of these same creative principles. At least that's what my pattern seeking mind was saying to me as it wove together the 2 hours of ideas into a delightful, informative, and insightful experience. The Wiz had proved his point as only an artist-trickster could.
One of the principles that Eno "illustrated" through us and noted in his talk, was how generative art requires the mental patterning processes within our brains to actually complete it. The artist sets up the conditions but the process of pattern seeking within the mind of the viewer completes the work and consequently transforms a passive viewer into an active participant involved in creation of the work. While the talk seemed simple and easy, given his abilities, somewhere in there I started to feel that The Wiz was contributing a certain vitality to a few simple principles that might have some unexpected and generative implications outside the 2 hours and beyond the walls of the Vogue.
During the journey through the territory of his mind, we touched on three revolutionary ideas or non-intuitive leaps in thinking that fundamentally changed the way we understand ourselves and provided insight into principles that have enabled the generation of much of his creative work including 77 Million Paintings. In doing so, the Wiz made visible that which is so taken for granted in our industrial- technological world view, that we may no longer recognize how our thought, perception, and how we live is shaped.
Revolutionary Idea 1: