View Full Version : Creativity through self denial?
7th November 2003, 08:30 AM
I'm interested to get some opinions on this subject. The idea of forcing yourself to expand outside of cliche, convention, etc by imposing a set of restrictions on the artistic process. The notable examples are the Dogme 95 films (for an explanation clickhere (http://www.dogme95.dk/the_vow/vow.html) ), though the concept of minimalism and self imposed restriction can be applied to music, painting, anything creative.
Opinions? Is it worth sacrificing aesthetic pleasure for innovative art? Is it worth it for a movie that doesn't look as slick and professional, but which focuses more on getting the truest moment of emotion and reality from a scene or exposes our own self deluding emotional tendencies by removing the illusion of most conventional films in favor of a more harsh feeling?
I'm focusing mostly on the film aspect, since I just watched Mifune again last night...but there are some notable examples in all forms of art. They also range in pure practice of the concept from loosely following the intention of it through more practical means, all the way down to the extreme use of it to the point of becoming nearly abstract.
8th November 2003, 07:28 AM
To be completely honest, I don't see the point. I don't think quality work is done by imposing restrictions...I think it's done by removing them.
Money, for one, is a very big restriction. Not how much money was SPENT, but how much was MADE. I'm sure many, MANY directors would love to do something different, something original. But would anyone buy it? Would they receive compensation? Would it throw them into debt?
9th November 2003, 04:27 AM
I have to agree with Dogma95, although I have some reservations about a few of their points. I see no point in denying yourself for the sake of your art. In my case, I'm an illustrator and painter, and I've accomplished nothing more significant by denying myself anything out of the ordinary has opposed to letting things happen the way they normally do. Sometimes performers delude themselves into thinking that they need outside stimuli to create or perform, when in fact, they don't. They just need to allow themselves to let the event happen and let go of the dramatic crutch (I need a drink, I need a buzz, I need my lucky underwear, etc). I've met a great many people who love the drama and attention of their chosen profession and allow it to become who they are, as opposed to letting the work speak for itself. I don't mean to lump you into that category (as I don't know you and I'm not a mind reader...yet). However, I take exception to Dogma95's insistence of using a handheld camera. Done sparingly, it's quite effective. Overused, you've become a prententious artist (or worse, a hack TV commercial director). If I want to get motion sickness, I'll go out on the Atlantic, not my local movie theater. If anything, they sound like they espouse documentary filmmaking over everything else, which has its' place, but not for everything.
Insofar as the profit motive, I agree with Sorgoth wholeheartedly. I may think that my work is so original and groundbreaking that it'll change the world, but when Con Edison wants to shut off my power because I haven't paid the electric bill, then I have to start rethinking my priorities. If indeed my work is that profound and earth=shattering, then it will find an audience on its own merit. But it won't be because I chose to deny myself anything.
10th November 2003, 11:50 AM
I don't have any connection to Dogme 95 personally, as I'm not a film maker, nor really a proponent of minimalism in general...I just wanted to get some opinions on this subject as it's one that interests me and made me consider the benefits vs the drawbacks. I'm involved in art though music and used to draw and paint often (hardly ever now)...and I've never used minimalism as a creative tool. If anything I'd like to be able to move the opposite direction and have more to work with, but there are certain points within movements like Dogme 95 that I find interesting and somewhat beneficial to art.
As to the point of money, that's an issue that can be debated all on its own. In general I think the Dogme 95 movement specifically addresses that one of their movies doesn't have to be low budget and can be a large budget movie and doesn't even need to be filmed with Digital Video (their only rule is that it must be shown in 35mm, so that the movies can be seen in cinemas and be accessible to a large audience and get the "movement" out to the public").
Thanks for the feedback, it's always interesting to get a variety of views on somewhat controversial creative ideas like this.
12th November 2003, 12:57 PM
I think restrictions can be useful, just as can removing them. As you said in your first post, Corey, they can help move the "artist" past cliche and convention, or force him to focus on specific aspects of his work.
Imagine the creativity involved in trying to work around not using any guns in a western.
I primarily paint landscapes, and I've toyed with the idea of painting some using no green, or only mixing greens from a very limited set of other colors. I feel like, in some of my paintings, the wide array of greens becomes a distraction that has blocked me from paying the required attention to drawing and value.
When one feels that he has lost sight of the important core of his creativity, or of what it really is he wants to accomplish, then limitations (whether the simple idea of avoiding one specific cliche, or going so far as to ruthlessly cut away all excess) can be very inspiring.
13th November 2003, 08:13 AM
I think you hit the nail on the head there Bluegill. While some artists are held back by what they can't do, some are held back by what they depend on. I don't think it's a universal concept, because some artists really find their mode of expression by tearing down a restriction, artists like Picasso and Dali, skewing realistic portrayal in their most profound works or comedians like Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Bill Hicks. Then again, for some artists maybe the only way for them to exceed their limitations is to force themselve not to be able to use certain things that are perhaps a crutch for them. Thanks for your example Bluegill, it gave me a slightly different perspective on the use of this idea than the one I had already.
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