April 06, 2008
June 20, 2007
June 11, 2007
in the ideolect of a child
He strides through the grass
armed with only a "Secret Agent Bug Pouch",
"Where are those sneaky ladybugs?"
Liam (age 3.9 years) has made
three small pictures (a ladybug,
a butterfly and a mosquito) on
coloured scratchboard. He folds
each drawing in half and glues
all three together so that they
open like a book, an insect
identification book, that he
slides into a small plastic
pocket. It fits easily into
his left pantleg pocket.
He has literally scratched the
surface to reach "the hiding
colours underneath". His
artistic process is alot like
finding bugs, or as he says,
scratching pictures reminds
him that "bugs can hide under
leaves and rocks".
Art is a material language
and each physical material
offers particular properties
that facilitate unique kinds
of expressions. What can be
said with clay can't be
translated into paint.
It follows that the more
languages children have,
the more expressions of
the same idea they will
To express the world with
a broader palette; why stop
at the first impression when
there are many different ways
of stating the same idea. It
is that skill of defamiliarizing
one's perceptions of the world.
Otherwise, habitual sameness
entrenches us. Art is the
undilution of habit.
"The Russian Formalists had a word for it.",
I'm sure they did.", said Philip. "But it's
no use telling me what it was, because I'm
sure to forget it."
"Ostranenie," said Morris. "Defamiliarization.
It was why they thought literature was all
about. 'Habit devours objects, clothes,
furniture, one's wife and fear of war ...
Art exists to help us recover the sensation
of life'. Viktor Shklovky."
June 09, 2007
small t truths
"I do not know what I may appear
to the world; but to myself I appear
to have been but a little boy, playing
on the sea-shore, and diverting myself,
in now and then finding a smooth pebble
or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
the great ocean of truth lay all
undiscovered before me."
(Sir Isaac Newton)
November 25, 2006
three year old Maxwell
examines a small wooden bird house,
imagines fitting sideways
through its small hole,
wonders how dark it is
inside while his fingers
trace the tiny copper-crescent
moon nailed just below
its red roof, saying;
"this is how the birds know when
to go to bed, they see it and go
to sleep when its moon-time."
"The art of research dwells in the hands
of children, and they are keenly sensitive
to pleasure and wonder. Children become
aware very early that through the art of
research they can discover the joy of living
and be freed from the boredom that comes
from existing in an unexplored world."
October 15, 2006
archery is to pedagogy
what computers are to haiku
if one thinks too hard
about hitting the target
one inevitably misses
but as soon as one lets go
of meeting the mark
without the bow and arrow
when all the paraphenalia disappears
and when practice becomes a way of becoming
one masters the enemy within, ordinance
and the straight line
of one`s intent
tap tap tap the sound
of hail hatching the window -
a desktop haiku
September 15, 2006
September 11, 2006
August 04, 2006
June 16, 2006
Self-Portrait by Tré (4.8 years)
T is tall
for his age,
over 3 other boys,
speaks with his hands
but today he says,
"My brothers had beer on the weekend".
Did they let you taste it?
the socially acceptable
and quietly drops
his chuckling gaze.
T is all hands,
all arms and fingers
combing the air
with premature irony,
aware that words
are just a footnote
to his childhood.
he depends on sight,
a baby-king of senses
who surrenders to it
knowing that the human body,
like other organisms,
lives by touch.
On T's flip side,
all is seeing
to gently tip T up
to the rim of the wheel
on which Heaven spins
and imparadise him
in pure childhood
for just a little longer.
May 30, 2006
what heaven looks like
N (4.6 years) is running in circles.
A large piece of white chalk on the
ground brings him to a full stop.
"I want to draw heaven."
"Me too.", M (age 3.5 years) adds.
What does heaven look like?
"Nobody knows.", M explains.
Then how can you draw it?
M draws a long oval shape and adds a tiny circle
inside of it. He points to the small circle.
Next, M draws a larger circle above this shape,
adds 6 vertical lines inside of it and points
to the sky.
"It's up there. My grandpa is up there with
some others. They can see us right now.
You go there when you're done."
Was it Hegel who first distinguished between
imagination and fantasy? Both determinants
of intelligence. But imagination being
simply reproductive (imagining something
previously experienced but currently lacking).
And fantasy being inventive (producing the
image of a thing that was never previously
perceived by the senses ... the remote,
the absent, the obscure).
A poetic or productive imagination being
completely impractical; conjuring the unknown.
But a reproductive imagination remaining
pragmatic (like imagining water when one
is thirsty). Either way, it proves
Sartre's notion that,
"The imagination is an act, not a thing."
Ultimately, the fantastical imagination
escapes the real as fast as it can. And
doesn't this make poetry and all art
Gianni Rodari writes,
"If a society based on the myth of productivity
(and on the reality of profit) needs only half
human beings - loyal executors, busy imitators,
and docile instruments without a will of their
own - that means there is something wrong
with this society and it needs to be changed.
To change it, creative human beings are
needed,people who know how to use their
imaginations ... let us develop everyone's
creativity so that the world will change."
"Creativity is synonymous with
"divergent thought", that is, thinking
that is capable of continually breaking
the schemes of experience. A mind
that is always at work is creative,
a mind that always asks questions,
discovers problems where others find
satisfactory answers. It is a mind
that prefers fluid situations where
others only sense danger, a mind that
is capable of making autonomous and
independent judgments (also independent
from the father, the professor and the
society), that rejects everything that
is codified, reshapes objects and
concepts without letting itself be
hindered by conformist attitudes.
All these qualities are manifested
in the creative process. And this
process - it should be stressed -
has a playful character. Always."
His question is:
Why do schools relegate the role of
creativity to minor projects? Does
this imply the repression of creative
potentiality as a main objective?
"If one sees things in advance, one can
be regarded as a dreamer because history's
course of time is never identical with that
of the individual, and things do not ripen
at fixed times like peaches ... it takes a
great dose of imagination to see beyond
the school as it is now, and to imagine
the crumbling of its "reformatory with
curriculum" walls. But it also requires
that one believe that the world can
continue and become more humane."
What is the shape of heaven?