On the art of sculpting, editing, and revealing what's there
There’s something interesting about sculpture as an art form. At least the classical notion of sculpture. A block of hard, cold stone. Hammer and chisel. All that.
In contrast with most other art forms, sculpting wasn’t about adding elements onto some variation of a blank canvas. Quite the opposite, it was about removing. Digging beyond the surface of the raw material that covers, disguises and obscures the truth resting beneath.
This was the Ancient Greeks’ thinking on all forms of art and intellectual enterprises. Only sculpture made it literal.
Sculpture was about getting rid of the unnecessary to open up a space for the essential to rise up and shine through: finding and reaching the kernel of truth lying within. Uncovering and revealing what was somehow already there.
Creation as finding and discovery but also removal and riddance.
In a similar manner, the Ancient Greeks had a word to talk about truth: aletheia (or ἀλήθεια). Although it translates to ‘factuality’ and ‘reality’, its meaning includes ‘disclosure’, ‘revealing’ and ‘uncovering’.
Truth understood as the state of being evident and unhidden. Creativity as disclosure and discovery. Originality as going back to the root of things.
It’s our job as creatives, writers and philosophers - or just as human beings, really - to remove what’s irrelevant, temporary and distracting to discover what’s inside and out there, hidden in plain sight.
Like a bonsai artist sculpts the tree through nurturing, pruning and shaping, letting the authentic individuality that lies underneath finally shine through.
Or the same way an editor helps the writer find, embrace and express their own unique voice, removing the superfluous, the unnecessary, pruning the words, shaping the style - all while keeping their own personal voice (and ego) at bay.
Or a teacher. Or a marketer.
Riddance, removal and deletion are a fundamental part of the process of change and growth. Necessary so we can readjust, redirect and refocus ourselves, and move forward.
And so we eventually become who we really are from inception.
Our highlights this month
We all know that it’s okay when things fail, and it’s about learning from our mistakes. While the Better Briefs Project reveals that 33% of every marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work, this article gives great tips to help make sure a marketing project gets off to a better start.
Metaphors seem simple enough: the suggestion that one thing belongs with another. Brain and machine, for example. Metaphor designer Michael Erard looks at why there’s more to metaphors than meets the eye, and how we can help people see through words.
Documenting the decline of icebergs and glacial sheets in Greenland since 2003, photographer Olaf Otto Becker’s images show icebergs as ‘sculptures of change’.
Writer Vauhini Vara didn’t know how to write about her sister’s death, so had an AI to do it for her. Feeding it pieces of text, the AI predicted the words that should come next. The more honest Vara was about her sister, the more candid the AI became.
It’s Nice That
Yes, we know! NFTs are everywhere at the moment. It’s Nice That digs into the benefits of the NFT space for artists and creatives, and looks at a new NFT-based artists’ residency offered by Voices.