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Cuba: Part 2

To ignite, liberate and empower imagination to its fullest and most potent we must open our minds and embrace "gravity free & reality independent” thinking.

“Imagination is the Matter of Which the Future is Made”, To ignite, liberate and empower imagination to its fullest and most potent we must open our minds to, and embrace, "gravity free & reality independent” thinking. Only then imagination transforms into a limitless, infinite state of a creative mind within which everything is attainable and nothing is unthinkable. Within it creativity roams free, unbounded by time or space, realities or dimensions, rules, mental or physical gravity and laws. There is a formidable synergy between technology and imagination. When out of balance, technology can overshadow imagination and become the ultimate emphasis. But when they are, technology, acting as a “magic wand” in the wings of our imagination, can arouse and empower us, transforming our dreams and wishes into inspiring realities. 

It is owing to this belief, distilled over time and space, that I have become a crusader, or an ambassador, for IMAGINATION. Having seen, lived in divers regions of the world, and having worked there for various academic institutions, I have resolved that most of them, not all, focus on teaching knowledge instead of igniting, inspiring and cultivating that much trickier to define, quantify, teach, grade or measure a quality which enthused and erected all our knowledge up to now, while also molding our future, IMAGINATION.

For, as I mentioned in the prelude, without it there would be no knowledge to impart or acquire. So why is it that at a time when our leaders plea for innovation and invention, which beyond any doubt are vital to our future and devising global sustainability, as well as advancement of humanity beyond this planet, the same leaders rather wastefully funnel our resources into global dominance, protectionism of political, corporate, commercial and other such interests instead of fabulous education we could otherwise afford, and teachers who are equipped to, or supported in their effort to inspire and not dispel kids imagination?

Such reflections motivate my “Imagination Workshops”. In the more regions of the world that I conduct them, the more I perceive a necessity for them universally. Having experiences most continents, not all, not yet, I have grown to believe in global education and exposure resulting in global outlook. During the last year in China, a country that is on the verge of self-rediscovery, I found wonderful students who are taught all forms of “how” to but yet very few of “why”. Hence I devised a class in Concept Art & Design, dedicated to inspiring self-discovery and self-reflection distilling in each individual an awareness of those unique values, visions, urges and rages that motivate one to express oneself creatively, meaningfully and passionately. I chose to opened this class not just to art, animation and game students but also those from coding, automated language translation and anyone eager to discover or challenge themself. At the culmination of the course, I was stunned by the depth of very personal ideas, stories, visions, reflections, imaginary imagery from students growing up in a pragmatic milieu encouraging and rewarding practical skills, while dissuading individualism, risk taking, self-exposure and self-expression. And this was not just a fortunate turn of events because the word spread. So when I entered the opening class of the second semester, I found there twice more students than in the first semester, twice more than an interactive, discussion, brainstorming and critique driven class is capable of managing. Their hunger was impressive.

Intensity of satisfaction I experienced in unleashing their hibernating imagination, ideation, individuality, innovative thinking and self-realization, in the process also inspiring their empowerment and creative expression, continues to resonate vibrantly in me. I now seek more occasions for making such an impact.

Experiencing Cuba has been an ongoing and, until this year an unrealized dream of mine. Given political stalemate between the goliath US and the teeny Cuba, travel to the island has been restricted, except for cultural and academic purposes. So in order to realize my wish, last year I contacted EICTV, a worldwide known film school in Cuba that invites international experts in various aspects of filmmaking to conduct workshops for their students. A superb concept I myself fully utilized when, some years ago, launching the “International Animation” program in Colorado. In addition EICTV also offers international workshops to Latin American students as well as young professionals interested in expanding their creative horizons.

Hence I contacted EICTV’s director offering their film students a novel perspective. Dictated by my own journey, cited in the prelude, I advocated that all film students ought to be exposed to the metamorphic “language of animation”, unveiling to each individual practitioner freedoms of evolving an idea, concept, emotion or story through time and space. Moreover, I proposed, these freedoms are further magnified and empowered by “Gravity Free and Reality Independent” ideation. He, a delightfully open minded man, loved the idea. Hence he put into action a process by which I would eventually be invited to conduct my Imagination Workshops for their international students and young professionals. Consequently, after months filled with hopeful suspense, earlier this year, I finally, and legally, was able to traveled to Cuba!

While the above invitation may seem not much of a breakthrough, at least for me, it truly was. So I shall elaborate on “why”. As a former live action film directing graduate, who dedicated much of his career to the art of animation, I have been fortunate to gain an appreciation of both the mediums. Moreover, these days my views have been enriched by exploration of ideas and innovative potentials of interactivity as the language of the future, and Mixed or Augmented Reality, fusing reality with virtuality, tactual and digital, which I do via the art of conceptual design. Thus I have gained a rare viewpoint on all these media, this in addition to a global appreciation brought about by my wanderings around the world. I deem that such experience has much to offer at a time when interconnected world is shrinking at an accelerated speed.

Yet having approached certain film schools around the world, including my very own alma mater, I have encountered an mental wall from which the proposals I put forth bounce off and revert to me projecting a attitude of superiority and even dismissiveness: “We are a Film School”. “We do not offer animation”.

What a pity, for your students and their faculty. As I stated earlier, I deem that we are entering the time of “Digital Renaissance” and so, given that I am correct of course, ignoring other creative disciplines, and innovative outcome resulting from potential fusions between them, is simply holding on, with all the force of narrow-mindedness, to the status quo. This is “why” I was so thrilled to accept the EICTV’s invitation.

While the flight to Cuba was not only a complicated but also a stressful one, this due to the embargo put into effect over 50 years ago, believe me, it was worth it. What an amazing, and timeless island Cuba is. However, this is a theme to which I will dedicate my forthcoming episodes in this series, and photos too.