On non-human collaboration:

So I drew these hands:
Hands sketch

Then I put them into Photoshop, mucked around a bit, and they became this:
Hands digital

Still my drawing, but not the same, and the globular shapes are much more in keeping with the idea of the piece this will become. The funny thing is I never intended to make them look like that, I just set out to smooth my shakey-handed outlining.

It got me thinking how it was more like I was collaborating with the software, not just wielding it like a tool. I asked it to do something and it was like “Okay, but instead, how about this? Is this good?” and I’m like “Hell yeah it’s good, thanks bud.”

It’s like this with materials too, paint, paper, fabric, thread. The materials come equipped with all these parameters: I work this way, I don’t bend this way, I shatter easily, I twinkle, I look great in red, I feel good, I’m an allergen. Choosing and working with the materials is one part logic problem, and one part collaboration, because these parameters steer the project as much as I do.

Leaning into a project, I search out the right materials. I brainstorm. Once I choose, (mostly by gut-feel) I nearly always stick it out with that material. Even when it presents a serious problem and redirects the focus of the piece. It’s like, you dance with the partner you came in with.

Even budget and limitations are my ally. I say this to myself once a week: “necessity is the mother of invention.” I can’t tell you how many times my frugal solution (as opposed to the grandiose expensive version I first thought up) turned out to inspire a whole new line of ideas.

It’s all very clear in hindsight. So instead of concerning myself with problems and limits as they come up, I should really look at them as an opportunity to collaborate – between the images in my head, and the way things really are. Usually, “the way things really are” is a better friend than I imagined.

One thought on “On non-human collaboration:


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