It’s very important to turn the familiar upside, to look at what you already know from a new perspective, a new light. You can never fully know your art form, or your craft until you approach it from a unfamiliar and foreign angle.
Here are two very intriguing examples: Over at Emoji Dick, Fred Benenson is looking at the classic Moby Dick in a new light – japanese emoji icons.
His thesis is to see how language and culture is affected by digital technology. You can read a New Yorker interview with Benenson here about the project.
And over here at Franz Kafka info they are looking at the personality of Kafka solely through photographs. Where he lived, where he worked, where he traveled. The places of Kafka. They want you to look at Kafka in a new light.
I’m trying to do this as well. Give the familiar a little shake down as I move forward with my writing. I want to engage more fully in finding theatrical inspiration in other forms: movement, visual art, even computers. It’s important not to re-tread the same ground.
At the moment, I’m thinking about (haven’t even got to the ‘working on’ stage) two out of my familiar ground projects. One of which involves contemplating how to take a book of botanical drawing from the 18th and 19th century and make them a play that high school students will actually be interested in performing. It’s a unique, daunting and exciting challenge.
I don’t know if I will succeed, or if this concept is even doable. Maybe it’ll be a big failure. But you know, I think there’s not enough failure out there in the arts. There’s so much at stake these days, everything must make money, everything must succeed right out of the box, one misstep, one bad review and you’re doomed. How do we know what’s right, if we take no wrong turns? How do we get better as artists?
Sometimes, we only find brilliance in the aftermath of failure. When we shed new light on the situation.