Brain Pickings

Nina Paley: All Creative Work Is Derivative


I’m a big believer in creativity as a combinatorial force — a great big puzzle you construct from existing pieces in your mental pool of resources. Which is why I strive to continuously highlight tidbits of interestingness and inspiration, in the hope that each of them lies dormant in your mind until, one day, it sparks some incredible new creation. So the concept of remix culture is both a frequent topic and a point of passion around here. Now, from filmmaker Nina Paley of Sita Sings The Blues fame comes a simple yet brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed case for the combinatorial nature of creativity.

Paley photographed archaeological artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and animated them to illustrate her point: All creativity builds upon something that existed before and every work of art is essentially a derivative work.

If you’re intrigued by this concept, I highly recommend checking out the roundup of similarly minded projects here and taking a peek at Steven Johnson’s insight on where good ideas come from, most notably his absolutely fantastic new book on the subject.

A free hi-res download of Paley’s animation is available at the Internet Archive.

via Open Culture

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