In part three, the final part, in our bricolage series we take the topic beyond the dominant notion of re-using available experiences and material to create original and new solutions together with David Kayrouz of Creative Pathways, a consultancy based in New Zealand. David is a passionate practitioner of bricolage as creative discipline but he takes it a step further: “the ‘resurrection’ of the existing is an integral part of the process, but personally I believe and see an important future lies in the use of bricolage through the amorphous possibilities available for a preferred connecting with the bricoleur’s senses through their free choice of media. By reasoning through this pathway we deepen potential to make the invisible visible.”
While still a bit vague David’s comment points to a more profound meaning of what bricolage can represent in any creative process and he continues to clarify “I see these as having a strong relationship with peoples sedimented experiences and learning styles. We are constantly doing with our hands aided by visual reasoning: a constant stream of meaning making. Most of this is doing is habitual or predetermined by the world around us e.g. a pen that predicates how you might use it. Bricolage as a choice of media provides a tactile and visual challenge to habitual way of seeing and doing yet supports the preferences one might have towards certain materials that ‘feel comfortable’ and look right. The connection here is sensual. […] Additionally a ‘creative mindset’ is necessary. By this I mean the importance of curiosity, ability to hold ambiguity, courage, etc.”
Age of Artists: David, this sounds as if there is a lot of personal freedom involved but at the same time bricolage sounds limiting due to only using what is there.
David Kayrouz: Freedom is a myth where creative work is concerned. We are always and everywhere limited by our worlds while simultaneously capable of conceiving unlimited possibilities. No different with bricolage!
Age of Artists: Usually artists are referred to as people that have much freedom and value their freedom a lot. Why do you think is there such a discrepancy between common sense and artistic reality in your view?
David Kayrouz: A couple of things at play here. Firstly people generally equate an ability to choose with greater freedom though many studies tell us this is not the case. For example the incredible choice of yoghurt flavors in the supermarket send many people into a state of overload deciding what they want and lead to individuals purchasing the same flavor to avoid the information overload. So the ideal of artistic freedom is in that sense a misconception. We are all sharing the same human reality where creative choices are concerned.
I suggest a more effective way of approaching this question is to have a grasp on our independence, our disposition for detachment and ability to choose through the awareness and inclusion of bigger pictures.
Secondly the committed artist is often a rebel by nature. In order to maintain his/her artistic vocation they mistakenly find themselves needing to object to a world where the norms of conformity make things tick. We are all stretched by an anxiety to conform or surrender to norms and lose our identities or conversely become who we uniquely are at the risk of isolating ourselves. I see them as one and the same tension from which we are challenged by reality.
Age of Artists: You speak of an simultaneousness between ubiquitous limitations which could stop one from acting versus an energy that pushes us forward. How do you think people can be enabled to more easily accept this ambiguity and to use it productively, for instance to drive social change or to address complex challenges in their organizations?
David Kayrouz: If you accept the material limitations are those of the world, the energy that drives us results from expanding and employing our own unlimited self understanding. This is not a rational business yet we must attempt this while living in a highly rational world. By understanding individually and collectively how we can tolerate and work with our anxieties, we mostly call them fears, develop and trust our senses, reflect and develop better questions, are ways I see towards addressing our challenges. We are greatly influenced and moody-coddled in a world of insurance, health and safety, instant solutions, etc., all in the aid of having certainty, which is clearly not an achievable end state. Finding and creating safe places to work with and develop these dispositions, which are practice based, can be found in art work for example as the learning is highly personal and experiential.
Age of Artists: Fear and ambition as opposing forces are most likely core human features. They are deeply rooted in some of the oldest and still most powerful myths on the planet. So artists, like any other people should be afraid of something too. Your view is that the artistic practice represents the sacred space that allows for fearless exploration. What other things come to your mind when you think of overcoming doubt and fear?
David Kayrouz: I don’t think we can ever overcome these forces. I think of faithing into things. This is like trust but with no object or known outcome to focus it on! This is a part of creativity, we must develop the ability to face these forces without knowing . ‘Bricolage style’ this happens by working through them in small manageable ways. You may satisfy ambition with immediate success or overcome uncertainty with knowledge in the making or deconstruction of a small artifact. By faithing into the doing the materiality of what you produce offers some evidence needed to physically observe and reward your efforts as they shrink or grow in front of you. This way I feel the power of some destructive myths can be exorcised within this sacred space.
Age of Artists: The creative dispositions you mention, in particular curiosity, courage but also the already mentioned ambiguity – how do you get to it in your view, so if I say I am not curious, courageous enough – what can I do today to start changing it?
David Kayrouz: I suggest you will find answers to all these challenges and more in some form of ‘making.’ Maybe first find a goal in anything that interests you. Like building a model or fixing some thing small, a broken machine. Starting with something already made is like copying, a form of deconstruction and an easy step to inquiry. Reflective attention needs to be given to the use of materials, function, history, and all that connects and situates this object in the world, nothing is trivial.
Of course doing this work in a social context is going to be helpful. Sharing the learning leads to the fact it is always great to have a mentor or teacher who can lead you to the next step and celebrate what is being achieved. A useful repertoire of creative dispositions will accompany this doing gradually transferring to challenges outside the field of immediate attention and maybe later moving to the possibility to start from scratch in a new field as many creators do.
Age of Artists: Much of what you just stated could be a response from a experienced scientist or serial entrepreneur.
David Kayrouz: There is no difference. The outcomes are different and can be misleading. I believe the processes and dispositions are the same artist or engineer. Because we don’t understand their language the nuances of what they see in what they do are often hidden from us. We only recognize it as creative when we can make the associations. To our great misfortune the most acceptable ideas of creativity have been attributed to ‘artists’ but isn’t life itself the ultimate creation.
Find out more about David and his work here.
The Flying Carpet by Viktor M. Vasnetov depicting Prince Ivan returning on a magic carpet with the caged firebird taken from Wikipedia. The Firebird, caged in the illustration, is a magical glowing bird from a faraway land. A typical role of the Firebird in fairy tales is as an object of a difficult quest. There are many versions of the Firebird story. Please refer to Wikipedia for additional details.