Saturday, June 2, 2007

Logic in Artistry

 

GuitarMarianne came down for Heather's graduation party last weekend.  She spent a night with us down at the shore and we had a nice discussion of all manner of things.  It turns out her father is apparently, to an extent, “an audio dude” who both she and Heather insist I meet.  Somehow in the discussion we got to talking about the balance of art and logic in our lives.  I brought up how I feel like audio harbors a nice balance between those two aspects of my mind.  There is a definite separation between the minds creative instincts and it’s desire to be logical.  Obviously there are many out there (far too many) who live in a haze of one extreme, ignoring the other almost entirely.  I feel as if the ability to find a balance between these two is a key step in finding one’s true balance.


I would like to examine this further.


Before we discuss the keys to balancing these two forces, I think a quick examination of each force is necessary.  The mind is composed of an endless list of conflicting forces.  The studies of rivals between homeostasis and transistasis in the human mind (let alone all natural systems) is one such example, but another worth examining is that between one’s creative impulses, and his logical inclinations.


The artistic side of the mind is easily linked to man’s primal state.  Reckless and unfettered, man’s internal animal acts without second thought or rationale; it simply does. Art is very deeply rooted in this instinct.  Art, for all intents and purposes, is reckless.  It’s a means of expression, and because so many people find so many different ways to express themselves, art is really difficult to define.  Without getting too far into a totally separate argument, I find true art to have some sense of, what can be best described as “heart”, in it.  This really means that the artist has put his/her self into their piece, whether it be a drawing, a song, a poem, an action, or some other esoteric medium, expression must come from the heart.  Everything else is just junk.


I liken this animalistic art to the works of Jackson Pollack.  Abstract and completely illogical, his expressionist impact rings of art’s impetuousness and the artist’s ability to completely lose sight of any rules of borders.


Conversely, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the ever-present force of reason, logic, structure, and order.  Humans reason on a higher plane than animals.  This gift has propelled mankind into the technological advancements we live with every day.  If nothing else good can be said about man, he certainly knows how to build things.


Our logical faculties have, technically, been with us as long as our creative ones, but they were, for a lack of better words, less evident.  Large strides were taken in the early days of technological pioneering.  Fire, the wheel, all early inventions.  Ones which without, civilization as we know it would cease to be.  But there were no astrophysicists in these times.  No computer technicians, no medial research scientists.  Just men with ideas.


The ideas themselves merit a short discussion of their own, but I’ll come back to that.


This force, unlike the artistic side, is guided by rules.  They justify the rules as well.  This is the side of the brain that desires control.  It is because of this side, we as humans agree to abide by laws.  We enforce them with pens, guns, signs, and other things you can buy at Wal-Mart.  Humans are the only species on this planet which needs to enforce laws of any kind.  Giraffes don’t hold weekly city-council meetings, bunnies don’t “click it or ticket”.  Humans are the only species on this planet that explicitly defines it’s laws in writing and enforces it…at all.  That is the crux of our logical side, but at the same time, our greatest asset.


I call it an asset, because so few people ever attempt to make effective use of this side of their heads, simply relying on other immutable human impulses to propel them through life.  I can’t possible relate to any human who can survive this way, but I see it…a lot, so it can be done…it would seem.


There is a point at which these two forces must intersect.  Where this lies is uncertain, but I wish to expound upon the concept in an attempt to define it that way.


 I started off by mentioning that I, personally, find this balance in my work with audio engineering.  I find that there’s overlap in everything I do, but audio especially.  Anyone involved in this business will tell you it’s creative.  There’s a goal in the process of audio.  It’s to record sound in a way that best represents the sound itself.  That’s a quality issue, and quality is not guided by logic or creativity alone.  It must have both!  There is an artistry to the methods of an audio engineer.  Without going into detail, I can bring back another point I made earlier regarding the “ideas”.


To accomplish a task of any nature, there must be some sort of plan.  This plan may be something as simple as, “Get up.  Go to bathroom.”  Or it may be far more complicated.  In the world of audio, that plan is a bit more esoteric.  It can’t be easily defined with words.  What drives an engineer to put a mic somewhere, while inspired by scientific principles, is really a creative decision in the end.  Masters of the recording studio have very few qualms with pointing microphones in odd places just to see what kind of sound it will pick up.  It goes well beyond microphones, but the example is the easiest to swallow for people not familiar with the process.


The balance is in the idea’s impact on the logic.  It must be in this order.  The creative mind sets the logic in motion.  It creates direction for the logic to flow in.  I have an idea, it’s creative, weird, and other adjectives as well.  How do I realize it?  With logic, order, science, planning, science again, and other words said in a commanding tone with your index finger pointed rigidly outward while wearing a lab coat.


That is the balance.  It’s within this balance, a zen of sorts can be found.  A perfect match for the classically minded and the romantically minded.  Creative and logical patterns working cooperatively to realize the pinnacle of invention.  It’s this middle-ground where our minds should lie.  Neither extreme can make a mind whole.


 


…stay in bed, float up stream.

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