The Boundaries of the Imagination

Are there any?

That’s what a recent weekend conference at The Jung Center on Montrose in the Museum District here in Houston explored. What did we come up with? Jury’s still out.

The Boundaries of the Imagination

I’ve been to only a couple of seminars at The Jung Center over the years and, coincidentally, both had to do with imagination as it relates to imagery and creativity.

Both were also moderated by my friend, Felix Scardino, author of The Pebble and the Canyon.

Now, I’m not a therapist nor do I have that type of background, although I have spent years in the advertising and creative industry so, I suppose, there are some who would say I’ve been in therapy all these years!

This special summer conference, The Boundaries of the Imagination, intrigued me.

When I reviewed the list of speakers for this weekend conference, I’ll admit to not knowing any of them. Yet, I anticipated the experience, the topics. I also assumed I would be in the minority; I am not a therapist or a psychologist. I’m just a curious creative.

Friday night began with a lecture from Jeffrey Kripal, PhD, past chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. His lecture, “When the Imagined Is Not Imaginary,” seemed to center on the evolutionary goal of imagination. Quite extraordinary.

Though it was a very thoughtful discussion, it really got down into the “imaginary weeds” for this listener. When Jeffrey mentioned the term “imaginal,” he went on to define it according to one Mr. Frederick Myers as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

According to Frederick Myers, imaginal is defined as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

HELLO!  Spiritual steroids? I’m not sure what the hell that means but it grabbed my attention.

Saturday morning’s session, “The Street of Heaven Was as Glass,” was a conversation between Jay Wehnert (right, below) of Intuitive Eye, his arts organization founded in 2011, and Vanzant Driver (left, below), a Houston-based artist whose work  is included in The Menil Collection.

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This conversation was a highlight for me personally just to listen and observe. One of the observations from Vanzant really touched my spirit – “Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity.”

DAMN!

“I can’t wait to inspire somebody,” Vanzant said. “This should be what gets you up everyday.”

Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity – Vanzant Driver

Since different attendees would no doubt mention other things that got their attention, I won’t attempt to cover everything from that weekend. My thoughts and impressions are my own. So are my dreams and my imagination.

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There will also be other blog posts, I’m sure.

As a photog-hobbyist, I couldn’t help but capture one of my conference colleagues chatting with Vanzant about her artwork in abstract visualization (I think that’s what she called it). Her paintings are hanging in back of her and Vanzant.

According to Vanzant, the philosopher, “the most powerful things in the universe are things you can’t see.”

We sometimes forget this. Hmmm, let me rephrase that . . . we rarely remember this!

 

Before we wound up our weekend conference, I participated in one last exercise. I played in the sand. Well, I had my own sand trap, er, tray. I even got to select as many toys, er, symbols, as I could carry.

But before that, I closed my eyes and “became one with the sand.” I moved my hands around the sand and just had fun, like the little kid inside me did many years ago, both on Lake Charles (LA) and Galveston beaches.

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“Playing in the Imagination” was what we did under the watchful eyes of Michele Lees, a depth psychotherapist in private practice in Houston with emphasis and training in Jungian psychology. And, evidently, one helluva sand castle builder!

Each one of the objects in my sand tray above represented something to me; some of them really did “call out to me” to be chosen, just as Michelle advised they would.

In case you can’t quite make it out, that is indeed a sleigh sitting within the branches of the Christmas tree . . . on a beach next to a treasure chest near a beached boat. The symbolism I was feeling that Sunday morning was both of fond memories and sadness (note the half buried Eiffel Tower near the voodoo doll), and, well, use your imagination to figure out the rest.

The entire weekend was like nothing I had experienced before. Not being a therapist, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being of the creative bent, I anticipated exploring my imagination in ways I had not, uh, imagined before.

Presenters to 2016 Summer Conference at Jung Center

Each one of the “speakers, therapists, authors, experts” were enlightening and, dare I say, imaginative. If you get the chance to hear one of these folks speak or present, go for it.

Have we been underestimating the power and reach of the imagination? Perhaps.

It is my firm belief that creativity is entrenched in our imagination. In fact, my favorite definition of imagination is “intelligence having fun.”

Yet, is imagination a location, an experience, a physical phenomenon? What is, as the brochure talking about this conference asks, its hidden power in a culture that tends to understand imagination as the opposite of reality?

Are there boundaries of imagination? If so, how many and are they truly discernible? What are the possibilities in exploring them and what do we risk?

What if we come to understand that imagination is reality?

What then?

Then, my friends, we come to grips with our emotions and, when we’re ready, if we truly are, we take another trek into the vast landscape of our own imagination to explore.

But be cautious. Rational thought may be cast aside; symbolism may take over. Creativity may be awakened. A new masterpiece may be unfolding right before your eyes.

Capture it, and enjoy . . . before it goes poof!

 

Editors Note: Those of you wanting to see Jay & Vanzant’s conversation can view it on YouTube.

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‘Unfairy Tales’ Wins Cannes Grand Prix

This animated spot is simply awesome. And touching. And serious. And gripping.

It sort of grips you by the throat as you’re reaching for the Kleenex.

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Every so often I see a commercial or piece of design work that intrigues me or, in this case, stops me in my tracks. The photo still alone does that but the spot goes on to do more damage to my soul.

According to Advertising Age’s “Creativity,” 180LA and UNICEF have earned the Cannes Grand Prix for Good for the “Unfairy Tales” campaign, a series of films that first seem to start out like sweet kids’ stories but then take dramatic and, at times, terrifying turns when you discover the children are fleeing for their lives from war-torn Syria.

Among the stories were the tale above, “Malak and the Boat,” which chronicled a seven-year-old girl’s harrowing journey on the seas, and, at the end of the trip, is the only survivor of a boat that had been once full of her fellow countrymen.

Kudos to the men and women who had the guts to go forth with this message and for the artful way in which it was created and produced. While the animation brings a potent emotional punch to the stories, the appearance of the real-life protoganists at the end of each short really drives the point home.

Visually stimulating animation and poignant storytelling.

A powerful combination. We’d be well served to see more of this.

The short films mark the debut of UNICEF’s #actofhumanity global initiative, designed to promote positive perception of the tens of millions of refugee children around the world.

The Grand Prix for Good is chosen from all the Gold Lion-winning work that was created for charities or not for profit, as well as those with public service messages, with the exception of those awarded in Pharma, Health/Wellness, Innovation and Film Craft. Such efforts are not eligible for Grand Prix in their respective categories. The Titanium/Integrated Grand Prix jury determines the winner.

Nicely done and well deserved!

To Think, Per Chance To Create.

Something to ponder or just day dream about. Seriously.

To sleep, per chance to dream;

Frozen Thinker

To think, per chance to create

To write, per chance to make sense;

To be read or heard, per chance to be understood.

Oh, tis a wicked web we weave,

Were it not for words or deed,

Would the mind go where the soul doth lead?

Perish thy thought and free thyself from doubt,

On the edge of reality, solutions await.

Colorful Crayons

But, lo, what of even the simple idea?

Impactful creative is its nourishment to foster growth.

Yet, regardless of which crayon you choose,

The results can still be compelling.

 

“Frozen Thinker” graphic by Vasava

Hong Kong at Night! Inspiring.

This is just damn gorgeous. Hong Kong at night. Honoring LGBT.

I came across this photo somewhere on the internet and just had to grab it. I wish I knew the photographer!

Sometimes a photograph is all one needs to be impacted.

Breathe in the colors. Be inspired!

Hong Kong at Night in LGBT Colors

Oh, Orlando!

I have a lot of emotions running through me right now. A lot of personal, business and family matters are troubling me. Yet, I can’t let anymore time go by and not express something about the horrific tragedy in Orlando this past Saturday night.

But, words in and of themselves are not the answer. Rhetoric is fine to a degree. We do that every time one of these events hits us like a 2×4. We must not stay silent but a part of me feels absolutely numb.

Prayers are plentiful. Sorrow is everywhere. Emptiness abounds. The world is in mourning . . . again. This time in and for Orlando.

Enough, damn it! Enough! These senseless acts must stop.

But we know it won’t.

I pray that our nation’s leaders have the guts to wake up and make mature, intelligent decisions rather than their usual, pitiful politicking in doing the politically correct thing.

Just do the right thing, you morons.

Lord, grant unto us the strength and courage to endure and to find some answers.

Bless the souls who perished. Bless the souls who survived. Bless us all, good and faithful servants. Onward.

Amen!

PeaceHarmonySolidarityCommunityLovePride.

This post is also being published on my Joe’s Journey blog.

It’s Friday . . . What’s that you say, Fred?


Fred Flintstone at Halifax Bank

It’s Friday and I’m ready for a good chuckle.

Actually, I got my chuckle a few days ago when I first read about this ad for Halifax Bank in the U.K. Featuring a few of The Flintstones’ characters, the spot does a wonderful job with the animation and the bank’s message.

Kudos to them for wanting to do something different, especially being somewhat contrarian to that British stiff-upper-lip perception.

According to Creativity Magazine, U.K. bank Halifax has collaborated with Warner Bros. once again, this time to feature Flintstones in a spot about switching banks. This ad, by Adam&Eve/DDB, sees Fred and Wilma walk into a Halifax branch and interact with a real-life manager as they explain why they want to switch from their Bedrock bank.

Once again, directorial duo Dom&Nic at Outsider worked with the Mill’s VFX team to integrate the iconic animated characters into a live action setting, and recreate them authentically (and) as close to the original as possible.

The team worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to get the character designs as accurate as possible, combining modern techniques with more traditional methods.

To give it a classic aged look, the Mill team also hand animated and color graded the entire end sequence, where we see Fred with his new shoes taking Wilma home, followed by Dino. Love the scene where a banker-lady is giving Dino a treat!

I’ve always appreciated a scenario when the agency is blessed with a client who is willing to bend or even break the supposed rules in order to impress and be innovative in a classy and, in this case, cute execution of a timeless classic.

The situation is scripted well and the actors are, well, believable. More importantly, the creative treats the concept with respect.

Alas, the poor boob who plays the banker. Imagine playing second fiddle to a famous caveman who is not part of Geico. Ah, the Brits!

Way to go, Fred and Wilma!

The Future of Advertising?

Ever tried to predict the future? Not easy, is it?

I don’t know if this article comes close but it is an interesting read. Dax Hamman, Chief Product Officer, Rubicon Project, did a nice job with it.

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The future of advertising may take many forms, some of which may not even be known to us at present – wait, let me jump into my time travel Shuttlecraft (on loan from Star Fleet) and I’ll get back with you.

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Until then, the publishers of Rubicon have put together an intriguing read in this their 2016 Biannual Issue, The Programmatic Mind.

Whatchathink?

Well, for one thing, how will advertisers get consumers to pay attention to ads if when we all live in an era of super-saturation? The author states we start by using information as advertising – using data available to us in order to make our ads as relevant as possible so the consumer has no choice but to pay attention.

Hmmmm, I thought that’s what we try and do everyday . . . now. That’s what smart creativity is supposed to do. Let’s face it, cutesy only goes so far! Mr. Hamman further states “. . . that elegant design won’t be enough if your ads are not providing valuable information.” That’s true.

I agree with the author when he says the future of advertising is full of tremendous promise. It’s also full of a whole bunch of challenges and subsequent responsibilities. Information overload will, I think, be even more so than it is today.

Still, consumers are a fickle bunch; they’re also quite intelligent and can certainly discern an ad that makes sense, is relevant and interesting. Our future world will most likely be more intense, with more information, quite problematic, more programmatic and probably more “anything-atic.”

Oh, boy, pass the Excedrin!

Since you folks will undoubtedly have a thought or two on this subject and the article, pro and con, let me know. Don’t be bashful. There’s plenty of Excedrin for all of us.