Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Constraint is a State of Mind

Since I've been developing and researching for The Splots Project, I've been hanging/working mostly at Fully-Booked at the Fort, the biggest Mecca of books in Manila. Summoned my rogue stealth skills to capture some footage and take some notes from books, which the store guy referred to as, "not allowed". But how can I not? These are times of constraint and I am left to maximize whats available, which isn't much - but even that can change. ;-)

I came across a book called, Great Graphics on a Budget by Dixonbaxi. I liked the title. It got me curious as to how other creatives worked around limited resources. The first thing that caught my eye was the phrase, "Constraint is a State of Mind" from an essay by Teal A. Triggs. The whole essay was pretty damn good. I quote:

"... Many view constraint as an imposition, as a hindrance, rather than as a catalyst for liberating the process of graphic design."

And perhaps even more than just graphic design, it could apply to life and constrained living conditions AKA broke-ness. He also mentions Lars Von Trier, a film director, who believes that:

"... having too much freedom meant a loss of purpose, and by imposing restrictions (Dogme) films would foster a better clarity of purpose."

I remember watching Trier's film Breaking The Waves and I found it heartbreakingly honest and beautiful. Shots were mostly hand-held and gave the feeling of being there not as a viewer but a participant - or eavesdropper, as it seemed to me. This made sense as I was reading on and discovered how he actually "limits" his films to hand-held basic cameras, among other "limitations", to get the full focus and effect of whatever hes trying to convey. I also found out that he directed Dancer in The Dark with Bjork. Wonderful.

"Students need to understand that experimentation or play is an essential and investigative stage in the design process yet play must be framed in terms of specific limitations to foster an exploration of one or two ideas in some depth."

Freedom is great. Space is great. Then again, there isn't much movement happening without the antagonist. Like any sport or game - without the rules, theres no game. And though free-play is as much fun as game-play, success in the latter is more pronounced and is easily shared.

"... Constraint is the only way to move our understanding forward."

He couldn't have said it better.

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