Over my extensive journey that has shaped my creative as well as academic career, I have found myself distilling and refining the meaning of what it is to be “creative”. I wish to dedicated the next couple of episodes to the topic of imagination, creativity, the “gravity free and reality independent” thinking and ideation and the ways I, as an artist, designer, director and mentor strive to promote, disseminate and herald my allied ideology. I hope that you will find it a potent topic for reflections.
As a result of my life’s journey I have become a crusader for self-expression. Through the infinite power of creativity and imagination—which have no limits but those within us—potent and critical ideas find a language understandable to all. Through it people worldwide can communicate and inspire each other, shaping appreciation and mutual respect. Becoming a passionate crusader has been a journey of contrasts, an evolution of interwoven experiences I wish to briefly describe.
As yet another wave of Anti-Semitism erupted in the Old Country, and after much turmoil and loss I became a political refugee. Empty-handed, persona non grata, I was thrust into an unknown future, a world whose customs, thinking, ideas, beliefs and languages I did not know. Leaving behind the family and comforts I had taken for granted, abandoned by friends who turned away, I eventually arrived in New York City. Without funds, unable to communicate I had to adapt to this new, overwhelming land and to learn of its people and ways. I worked in a factory, a sweatshop, painted walls, and was a draftsman. Seeking further education, I recall writing in broken English a college entry essay to Pratt Institute. Proud and overjoyed to be accepted, I soon learned that I could not afford it. With packed belongings I left for England, another new land and new people who at that time were not so welcoming to strangers. Still, I adapted, and returned to NYC with my degree, renewed aspirations, and with a stronger foundation for what the future held.
The impact of these early experiences was pronounced and indelible. The loss of comforts, security and stability distills what is most important in life. It is not the material goods that define a person but what one can contribute for the betterment of others. In the alien setting of new countries, customs, ideas and languages, rather than seek out only that which was familiar to me I discovered my global citizenship—embracing an open-minded thinking, tolerance, and an appreciation for those not like me. Shaped by the turmoil of political persecution and by disparities discovered thereafter in my travels, I have become a passionate believer in global exposure to the contrasts and richness of different cultures—their experiences, ideologies, beliefs, histories that have shaped them and their resulting aspirations—as vital to abolishing prejudice and suspicion separating people who otherwise have much in common.
To share these ideals and bring about meaningful transformations one needs a voice. Coming from a country where artists were the heralds of freedom and the voices for change against an oppressive system shaped by single-minded and intolerant ideology and resulting government, I have found mine through the power of imagination. Call it a form of escapism or liberation or anything else, it is empowering and wonderful addictive, in a positive sort of manner. Initially I expressed its aftereffect visually through fine art, later through film, then the magic of animation and, most recently, through the still vaporous, and thus irresistibly magnetic, interactive media.
Animation, in my personal belief, reveals its majesty and potency when acting as a non-verbal, visual and metamorphic language. It lays infinite powers in the hands of its creator. It is uniquely adept at merging all arts into one powerful and capable of evolution in motion unbound by time, space, reality, logic, gravity or laws. It brings to life a personal vision of the world, whether real or not, familiar of far out. It’s style, scope and message are bound only by the artist’s own imagination, ideas it ignites and a resulting vision it will take and project, plus a considerable touch of passion, determination and insanity, for in its truest forms it can be very demanding.
Issuing is my favorite manner used to introduce it to those I mentor, cultural setting and tolerance permitting of course. As an outcome of an amazing sexual and deeply mental intercourse with a magnificent Muse, artist becomes impregnated with an idea. It evolves and gains in its definition and complexity, but also clarity. With progressive frequency, creative pleasure is replaced with pain; self-searching and confusion can result in nausea, and not only the morning kind. As time advances artist feels doubts, even regrets. But eventually, as delivery time arrives, this turmoil is released as a time based, screaming and kicking creative expression. Thus animation, or for that manner any meaningful and potent art, is born for the world to admire and be impacted by. Yet many artists prove me wrong. Most do so by complete, wall-to-wall verbal carpeting resulting on total reliance on voice over. The moment you turn volume down the imagery becomes pointless.
But, just as it is after an unforgettable sexual or mental encounter, here comes the moment of deeply satisfying reflection. What is “imagination”? To me it represents the very essence of that which has not existed before, that which is to come. As such is signifies the very “origin” of creation. Once ignited its power and energy inspires and fuels the creative process dedicated to eventual realization of that which was initiated by that deliciously embracing intercourse with imagination. To me, the “creative process” represents a prolonged pregnancy aimed at and resulting in the eventual delivery. As such, it can encounter various complications and anxieties.
This creationistic belief has shaped my passionate dedication to propagation of imagination as the soul, the spirit, the crux of all that is not but that can be, only if we dare to risk exposing ourselves, our minds to its potentials and possibilities. Imagination is ignited, liberated and empowered to its most potent when we open our minds to what I refer to as "gravity-free and reality-independent” thinking—a state within which everything is attainable and nothing is unthinkable. This is the space within which new ideas and visions roam free, awaiting discovery.
It is this synthesize that has transformed me into the herald of imagination. Thus, over the years and through my creative and academic careers and initiatives, I have acted as an ambassador for and propagator of imagination and its magical powers. The above process has allowed me to distill my own mission as the mentor of younger, at times somewhat lost and confused, or unsure and thus vulnerable but, above all, yet not too polluted or too calcified and thus still open minds.
As a crusader for creative self-expression, empowerment and ideation inspired by imagination, I deem it to be the ideal medium for cross-cultural, cross-ideological communication propagating mutual respect, appreciation and understanding. It is a potent, sincere, emotional and, most importantly, physically non-violent platform for an evocative, enlightening and empowering dialogue. For an individual, it seeds, cultivates and shapes an artistic and creative voice for self-discovery, self-identity and self-expression. For humanity at large, as an antidote to aggressions, it can cultivate peaceful coexistence, at least amongst those who deem themselves open-minded.
Whatever the medium, creative expression represents a powerful, poetic, emotional and visual language understandable and felt by all. When fueled by a sincere and deeply felt personal expression such a language can turn into a potent herald of ideals, feelings, aspirations and hopes we all have. Each of us has a message—potent, deeply felt and meaningful ideas—and a great need to share them with others, to make a difference during own, much to brief a lifetime.
Yet, much too often, these vital truths get mangles, mudded, confused, lost or dispelled either by our own instinctive, primal human pragmatism or materialism seeded in us by advertising or other forms of mass media exploiting our base, sordid greed or shortsightedness dictated by immediate and instant “gravity grounded and reality trapped” gratification and narrow perception on the meaning of life. Yet it is important to acknowledge that even such are inspired by of imagination, ideas, ingenuity and ideologies, of a kind.