Wired has a great little article from March about Brian Eno’s art school days here. A couple of things struck me about the article:
- The deliberate introduction of randomness in Brian Eno’s life, and the idea of changing artistic and social roles to facilitate new and interesting art. Eno’s art professors would have the students assume characters that were out of their comfort zone, to elicit reactions that were of them “playing a role.” Much like the old Oscar Wilde quote (“Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth”), if you give students a mask or role to play, they’ll create new, “true” art, that is, true to the role they’re playing.
Reminds me of Prince and Tom Waits adopting characters to get themselves out of their rote songwriting modes. Also reminds me of long-form improv training, of getting yourself “out of your head” and comfort zone to spur yourself to new risk taking.
- How much this pointed Eno in the direction of Oblique Strategies, which is a great tool for breaking yourself out of artistic ruts. (Great PDF of printable cards here.)
I had a great instructor in art school (“You want fries with that?”) who used to tell us, “You’re only doing your job as a creative if you are constantly on the verge of getting fired.” Which seemed imminently true to me at the time- the profs who were safe, and needed their jobs had the worst work. The ones who were devil-make-care were actually selling work and working at ad agencies, rather than writing bullshit artspeak proposals for federal grants.