LART: Scottsdale Turrell

I revised this piece at the SMOCA (Scottsdale Museum of Art), which I saw during a major Turrell exhibit they had in 2001. In fact this exhibit was my awakening to the unique power of Turrell’s art. At the exhibit opening I waited in line for almost two hours to experience his one person light shows.

The first time I saw this sky pace, there was a Baroque Quartet playing live. This time, I was lucky in having fast moving clouds above the aperture. This earlier sky space does not include the LED lighting display of the latter works. It was peaceful and calm to sit inside for fifteen minutes. Here is a time lapse video I made that day:



Deep work; the story of the blacksmith…

So, “Deep Work” by Cal Newport is the most influential book for me this month. I was hiking along the beach, and the chapter I was listening to, was about a person who had a career in a tech industry, burned out, eventually honed the skill to be an artisanal blacksmith. He had delved into historical techniques for purifying & forming metal.

There was a vivid description of his forging  a sword blade from a small ingot of metal and rendered, and it captured the intensity of working with metal, and having the risk that if you hammer just a bit too hard and your work is cast asunder.

That resonated with something I read once about craft: “Craft, is the predictable manipulation of material to create an object, and the deeper aspect, is when, regardless of your experience level, you’re on the edge of feeling that it is all about to blow apart. (I’m putting my own words to concepts I read in David Pye’s “The Nature and Art of Workmanship,” a book that clarified the essence of what it means to craft.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Newport draws a clear distinction between two types of work: deep work and shallow work.

Deep work is defined as:

Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate (page 3).

Shallow work is:

Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate (page 6).

Go where you would’t go.

Today I had a lot of mundane tasks, some interesting, some not, but I opened a book* by Eric Maisel, my creativity guru, and trusting the right page would fall open, I saw this exercise under the heading, “Anxious Situations.”

Invent a character to go where you wouldn’t go.

Think for a minute about the sorts of places that, because of your personality, principles, or upbringing you would never venture into.

*A Life in the Arts, p.77, in a chapter titled, “Of Moods and Madness.”

Here is the entire instruction: “Think for a minute about the sorts of places that, because of your personality, principles, or upbringing you would never venture into. Invent a character with the sort of personality traits, principles, or upbringing that would allow him or her to venture into one of those places. Follow that character there. Describe the setting in some detail and indicate why the character is successful or comfortable in that setting and why, by by contrast, you are not.

My bold, alternate self flew to Germany to storm the Olafur studio, and politely, firmly insist he become part of the (dream) team. After being rebuffed a few times, he was invited to join them for a meal, and was shown around the office, where he saw some amazing new projects in development.

A Mobius inspired staircase by Olafur Eliasson Studio.
A Mobius inspired staircase by Olafur Eliasson Studio.

encouraging the flow of new ideas