Like It Or Hate It: Art Makes You Think Outside The Box


Ah, Escher.... Now here was an artist who could make you think about what you were actually watching.
Ah, Escher…. Now here was an artist who could make you think about what you were actually watching.

Let’s brush up your art knowledge here…

Although I went the school of the arts myself, and studied there the courses of Interaction and Usability Design before those were terms that were anyway known to the regular public, I never really felt how ‘art’ would fit into the whole picture of the IT. I know that art has its place in our world, art is there to provoke emotion, thoughts, no matter if they are good or bad. And art has its place in politics simply to drive away attention from one thing to another.

The reason why a controversial piece of art might be placed in your neighborhood might have something to do with triggering the attention of the public to that, while then overlooking other things that are going on. It is not a ‘trick’, it is actually a necessity. Some times unpopular decisions need to be made by people in office, and what better idea to distract the public by having them focus on something much closer to home.

Art also exists for the sake of itself. It is creation in it’s purest form as men can achieve it. Sure, you might not like it, and it might be something that is seen by everyone as something completely different, but actually, art is essential. Stopping to fund arts, in any way, actually will also affect our cozy world in front of the computer.

Now, I am not a great lover of the arts. Sure, some I like, but I was the odd man out in the academy. For me, art needed to have a purpose. I try to be practical, and logical, and art usually is not. And that was also why I did not completely fit in… it often made no sense. And at that time, I just dealt with it.

But last night I started to realize something; art introduces us to see the world outside the box, even if we are stuck in it. Why last night? Well, I had to help my daughter with a project about any person or group of people from the past that influenced society in some way or another. My daughter, 8 years old, wants to be an artist when she grows up. And her favorite painting is the Mona Lisa. Not pushed in any way; but I do love it that she shows this creative side. So she decided to pick Leonardo da Vinci. Now, I personally was excited; I love the fact how a guy who lived in the 15th century could make up all kinds of things that did not exist. And people hail him as a genius, while, if reading up on him, he actually was not someone particularly intelligent; but he has a wild imagination.

In a time where art was not considered it to be what it is now, he did write down, sketched things that would keep minds racing over hundreds of years. Did he invent this stuff? I don’t think so, but he sparked something in the minds of others that might have the technical know how, that would then get creative in their own ways, and slowly paving the way for other inventions to come.

So, why this talk about art? I am looking at my iPad in front of me. It is square, simple, and it works. Sure, people complain now that iOS hasn’t changed since 2007, and I do agree, but, still it is a marvellous piece of engineering. But it is not original. I mean, when I went to the academy, which was in the early ’90s, we had these videos from HP showing already their slate. And Apple itself already played around with the Newton way before the iPad, or even the iPod.

Apple and Samsung are going at it in court about their patents, everybody is suing everybody. And one thing that we could learn from sketches from Leonardo da Vinci is, for example, that collaboration in ideas actually triggers innovation. Leonardo was not innovative, he was a creative mind, but his ideas needed to trigger other great minds into widening their horizons and try something new, and out of that collaboration comes innovation.

It seems we have now come into a point of time that innovation in IT has come to a complete halt. Since I was a kid the computer evolved so much over the time. Both hardware and software… every year many new things were added to everything. And right now, not so much. Sure, things have become better, but not innovative. The new iPad is not different than the older ones. They are faster, better, but not more innovative. The software has come to a screeching halt. Sure, we now talk about the cloud, big data, but we are still talking about data storage here. The internet has not essentially changed over the years… fiber-optics were around in the ’90s too. They just are being deployed now.

Yes, this also is connected to my sudden turn-around in my opinion about software and design patents that you can read about in an earlier blog posting. Even when I try to develop something for my company, I am always thinking about if something could be already patented or not, and it greatly reduces the artistic freedom approach.

Over the years, especially when starting to work in the technology more than the design, I noticed the edge is gone. I can absolutely design new things, make them look great, but the thinking outside of the box gets difficult once you learn how to make boxes. And I think the whole problem with the lawsuits about innovation and creativity that the big companies are fighting about make it very difficult for any true creatives to do their work and amaze us.

Oh, it will be done… creativity cannot be bound in the end. But in the end, I think it is a good step that the judge now told Apple and Samsung to stop the lawsuits and start working things out. Because it would be good if companies like that started to fund some real new concepts again.

And keep in mind, this is not only about IT and innovation, but innovation in every aspect.


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