Jun 22, 2010

Art for appreciation

After spending a long day at Penn's library, I was biking home through the streets of Philadelphia filled with filth, reckless drivers, traffic, more bikers, and the normal hustle and bustle of city life. People trying to get away from work and towards home, the Sun was still shining bright in the sky. The heat was actually bad, real bad. It felt like it was 2pm, when it was 6pm in the evening. With black helmet on my head and book bag on the back, I was sweating ("sweating like a thousand rattle snakes" as a friend would call it)!!! Hungry and thirsty, I was biking. Could not wait to get home and be in the air conditioned environment. So as I biked through the "suburbs/project areas" of north Philadelphia, my speed was being reduced as I went further. I didn't understand why, I had already passed the hill and I was biking on a relative flatter part of 11th street. Then I thought about the bike giving me problems, as it had earlier. But no, the pedals were fine, and the front wheel was not rubbing against the brake to the extent to slow me down. Well it was a flat tire. =( Luckily I was only 4 blocks away from temple. Walking seems like the slowest thing to do in the world after one bikes for a while.
Even on campus, it felt like it took me an eternity to get to the campus library today which is only 2 blocks from my apartment. 
So as I was walking I put on my headphones to accompany me on my walk back home. I played Anoushka Shankar's album "Rise".  This whole idea of making art for Anoushka came from this walk home listening to her music. As soon as the piano in "prayer in passing" followed by bansuri and sitar hit my ears. Everything else around me blurs. The music just moves and drags me in its world. the depth in her music touch the emotional side and rhythms the creative side. Nothing else mattered. The street was non-existent, my bike's flat tire was non-existent. A state which every artist wants their audience or viewers to be in. To know and explore every strum, every beat, every sound of the bols, every brush stroke, every smudge mark. Artist wants their viewer to feel and have the same experience they had when they were creating. I am not saying this is every artists goal. This state where the artist was one with the process and completely immersed in creation. A state frequently experienced by artists, usually it is a motivation to create more. A type of craving in a sense, to dive in. Take a chance. To create beautiful things. This state is called Flow, described really well by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Hardly to be experienced by viewers or audience, as it requires engagement and there is a process to how one gets to that state of flow. Also experienced by scientists, teachers, surgeons and any pretty much every field, but to be able to experience that in certain fields takes longer than other. As the time to acquire the skill is very long before the person can apply the skill. Usually this state preceded by little inspiration a ton of frustration. Even Edison had said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." A lot of times frustration turns people away to not continue. But a sense of completeness is only attained if the threshold of frustration is passed. This is what makes an artist going with a disinterest in monetary gains.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, while I was walking back, I was in no process of creation. I was tired and extremely frustrated with my bike and the heat. But when the beautiful sound hit my ears, I was in a different world. I don't know why and how but it has never happened before. I was immersed and joyful. It felt complete and content. And so I wanted to create something for her, I thought about it when I was walking back. Her music gets to me every time, no matter how many times I listen to it. I would not call it flow but it was something. The mellow tones, with the classical raagas, the bansuri, the piano, the drums, the tablas, the vocals and finally the Sitar make a beautiful piece of art.

If you have never heard her music, please do so NOW.  The album "Rise" is just spectacular.

The colors are not as bright as I would have liked them to be.
But still something, the gold in the background looks better in person.

Take a look at this Mihaly's video (I dont know how to pronounce his last name)
I had read his book few years ago called  
"Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention"



GB said...

Hi Nirja,

Just came across your blog. I love Anoushka's music- great post.


Nirja Desai said...

Thanks Gagan :)

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