Inception, Pallasmaa, Kleon & Creating Ideas

Posted on November 15, 2012 by John Willshire



I was rewatching Inception the other night, and various things took on a whole lot more meaning in light of a lot of the things I've been thinking about around using Artefact Cards.  

Inception is a movie all about the idea of ideas, of course.  Specifically, the cafe scene stands out...

Dom Cobb: Imagine you're designing a building, all right? You consciously create each aspect, but sometimes it feels like it's almost creating itself, if you know what I mean.

Ariadne: Yeah. Like I'm discovering it.   

Dom Cobb: Genuine inspiration, right? Now in a dream, our mind continually does this. We create and percieve our world simultaneously and our mind does this so well that we don't even know it's happening...


That feeling of only knowing what you're making as you're making it is definitely yopu get when using the cards.   When I'm halfway through doodling something, and it becomes something that it didn't start out as, but in a way that works better.  I find this works for both words, pictures, across multiple cards and so on.

Working with the cards is a much more likely way to find that place where we create and percieve ideas simultaneously.

It chimes with one of the earliest quotes I hooked on when designing the cards, from Juhani Pallasmaa's excellent book 'The Thinking Hand'...




It's an excellent read, if you haven't delved in before, and also talks about (amongst other things) to differences between working by hand and working on computers.  We place ourselves too quickly in front of computers to solve problems, whereas they may be better, more ably solved elsewhere, before corraling them into the necessary digitised format to share.

As Pallasmaa puts it, "My suspicion concerns the false precision and apparent finiteness of the computer image as compared with the natural vagueness and innate hesitancy of hand drawing that only through repetition, trial and error, and a gradually achieved assurance and precision, arrives at a satisfactory resolution"

Computers offer us frameworks to drop things into, but they're more like cages; they restrict the movement of your idea right from the off, and if it's not fully fledged, it can struggle to survive.

It's probably why I like Austin Kleon's division of work as he details in Steal Like An Artist - in his workspace he has an analogue desk, and a digital desk.  Creation takes place at the analogue desk, whilst publishing (writing, blogging, finalising, etc) takes place at his digital desk.  Once he knows and understands what the idea is, only then can he document it.



Which is perhaps the thing Artefact is railing against; the forced documentation of ideas before they're ready.

They're more like this:


It's the scaffolding that supports and builds your idea, as you create it, perceive it, evolve it.  Documenting the final order of it can come later.  A permanent fluidity, if you will.

Posted in Artefact, Artefact Cards, blank cards, cards, thinking, visual thinking, vizthinking, wireframing, workshops


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