Damon Stapleton: Creativity. The glitch is not the matrix.
A blog by Damon Stapleton, chief creative officer, The Monkeys New Zealand.
“Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso
There is a pendulum that creates stories. And stories move the pendulum.
First the pendulum. It swings between two points. From what is, to what could be. And then we start again.
And why does it swing? It swings when everything is the same. When everybody has the same stuff. The creatives job is to say there is a new path. The creatives job is to be the glitch to the conventional or mundane. In advertising, it was called disruption many moons ago. It was about breaking conventions so that you were distinctive. Being distinctive was how you got noticed and the disproportionate attention it got you was valuable.
The point was you had to try and be different. Sameness can never last because you disappear. And I am seeing a lot of sameness these days that is being called creativity. Let’s just agree right now that creativity must never become the matrix and always be the glitch. Otherwise, it will have very little value.
Here is a fun story/rumour I recently heard. It seems a number of artists are intentionally making their paintings incorrect by adding extra thumbs or hands to mess with the algorithm that supplies Midjourney with images. Think about that. The human response has created something new that wasn’t there before. Art that fucks with algorithms. You had the matrix and here comes the destruction. The glitch. And suddenly there is a new path. That is creativity.
Now, I am not saying A.I won’t take over and change the world. It definitely will. It is beyond a game changer. It will speed up production of ideas beyond belief and that has a huge amount of value. In a way it is the very definition of creativity because it is a glitch to the current matrix. It has disrupted the status quo in a major way. However, what I am saying is creative humans will mess with it and use it in ways that are definitely not planned. In ways, nobody has thought of. We like to tinker with things. We don’t like to do what we are told. We like rebellion. We don’t want things imposed upon us. This pattern repeats itself in every creative endeavour. Music genres are a great example of this. Punk destroys glam rock etc. Actually, I am not sure you can have creativity without this pattern. You find people at the edges doing weird shit. And then suddenly they are not at the edge. Then, they are at the centre. And we start again. If creativity has a purpose it is to change or challenge what is there.
Let’s talk about stories. On February 10, 1996 Garry Kasparov lost a chess match to Deep Blue, a super computer. For the past 25 years ago a computer could kick any humans ass at chess. So, here is a question. Why do we still play? What is the point?
If a robot was created that could beat Novak Djokovic at tennis (I am sure this probably exists in a secret lab) would we stop watching him? I think the answer is no. Direct human experience with unpredictable/exciting outcomes that becomes your story is the fuel that makes life worth living. The short answer to all of these questions is simple. Because of how it makes you feel. And, it gives you something to talk about at the pub so you are not a boring git. We want to have a story. We like things wrapped in a yarn. Context is everything right?
The Voice is never won by just a good singer is it? They have to have had a trauma of some kind. They had to overcome something. They need to be deserving. We want a backstory. We have to care about the person even though it’s a bloody singing competition. Yet, imagine how boring that show would be if they just sang the song, walked off and got the points. No context. No story. Nobody cares. This also happens when you have way too many of these shows. They become bland and predictable. They become un-special. Now the matrix that needs a glitch.
It’s a good lesson. When you have too much of something it loses value and becomes boring. When it is boring nobody notices. When nobody notices, efficiency will not help you. And effectiveness will definitely not occur.
Perhaps, we underestimate the great fear of being the same as everybody else. Maybe, for human beings the desire to feel unpredictable things is as important as generating very predictable answers.
What I do know is as long as people are around we will create stories. Or life if you prefer.
And that pendulum will keep swinging.