The Inalienable Right To Be Untalented

Busy into the evening tonight so I thought these brief thoughts from New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, shared by Isaac Butler might be a good subject to ponder.

This resonates with the whole Pro-Am (Professional Amateurs) conversation from the early 2000 as well as the concept that everyone has the capacity to be creative.   There has always been a tension between the idea that insiders are gatekeeping the definition of who is an artist/creative and the concept that one should be investing time and energy into honing their abilities if they sincerely want to cultivate their creativity.

Kael notes that the untrained/no-talent has a capacity to verge off in interesting directions while having the freedom of producing something perfectly awful. The two states are not mutually exclusive since the germ of something interesting and inspired can be hidden amid the dross.

Muscle Memory In Dancing And Coding

While it has only been about six months since I shared a story about the Philadelphia based project DanceLogic which teaches girls to code through choreography, I saw another piece recently on the Dance Magazine site and wanted to call attention again because it is such a great connector of art and STEM.  There have been so many efforts to create a bridge between art and science that feel crammed together, but the way this program is structured makes the melding feel near effortless. (Though I don’t doubt there was as much perspiration as inspiration involved with the developing a successful process even before they started dancing.)

I would encourage reading my previous post based on a Chalkbeat article because it discusses mentorship and leadership outcomes from the program.  Dance Magazine has a bit more detail about the structure and process of the program.

During one of our recent classes, the girls were assigned to create a dance based off their knowledge and progress of the coding techniques. The coding suggestions were written on the board, and then we assembled the codes into actual choreography.

An example would be “move forward, toggle switch,” and the choreography entailed this demonstration. The girls had the opportunity to perform their creative code dance number for their parents during our midterm presentation.

I especially appreciated how they quoted DanceLogic co-founder Franklyn Athias about learning through failure and how developing muscle memory was important to both dancing and coding.

“Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

Will Augmented Reality For Cooking Provide A Successful Application For Opera Notes?

Rainer Glaap recently posted a story about Deutsche Oper am Rhein’s (German Opera on the Rhein) partnership with Vodaphone to offer augmented information about the opera’s production of “Die tote Stadt” (Dead City) in April. (Use Chrome browser or pop the link into Google translate to translate from German.)

I have written about the use of augmented reality devices to interact with art as well as long running projects to provide commentary for classical music concerts and opera. There hasn’t really been any leading technology that has emerged and been adopted to provide these services, but I am always interested to see what people have in the works.

The opera house has set aside 30 seats in the 2nd tier, that is where the 5G reception is best, for people who wish to use the glasses.

According to the article Vodaphone has already used this technology for football/soccer games, providing insight into a chef’s kitchen as he cooks, and neurosurgery procedures.  Given the wide use of the technology across different industries and practices, I would think this product might have the best chance of success. They need to solve problems associated with providing supporting information and visuals to people viewing action on a broad football pitch as well as extreme close-ups in surgery. The equipment needs to operate effectively outdoors in weather and in the steamy chaos of a restaurant kitchen.

I expect they might be able to draw lessons from the different arenas of application to provide information people didn’t know they wanted. Information streams that football fans want by default may enhance the experience of opera goers. On the other hand, examining how people developed superb knife skills will be equally valued by those interested in cooking and surgery.

Would You Rather Have An Eagle Tear Out Your Liver Or Fill Out Grant Budget Forms?

About six months ago I drew attention to Vu Le’s humorous recasting of Greek myths with non-profit themes. I was delighted when he released his next installment this week adapting six more myths with similar biting humor.

For example, he riffs on the story of Pygmalion and Galatea, noting that Galatea’s name means “she who is white as milk” to make this observation:

However, it caught on, and eventually other organizations had their own galatea. They shortened it to “gala.” And that’s why we have galas today. And even though no one wears togas anymore, these events are still usually “white as milk.”

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that my favorite was the story of King Midas’ Goalen Touch where Dionysus hears Midas wish for a touch of goals rather than gold. The result is that Midas becomes obsessed with applying deriving every type of metric he can from everything he encounters.

For the next several days, everything Midas laid his hands on became extremely driven by goals, outcomes, metrics etc. When he started eating a delicious meal, the chef popped out and said, “This meal will improve your health and reduce your likelihood of ending up in the emergency room, which saves taxpayers money.”

At first, Midas was confused, but then he was delighted that everything had a purpose and tangible objectives. However, after a while, he lost track of the intrinsic value of art, poetry, human connection, and helping others, and became obsessed with easily defined and measurable goals at the cost of vital but more complex things. When he hugged his daughter, she announced “that hug decreased my probability of becoming a delinquent youth.” Horrified, Midas asked Dionysus to remove this curse. But it was too late. Midas spent the rest of his life obsessing over minor goals, while missing more important ones.

Le applies the gift of Prometheus and Pandora’s Box, among other stories to the non-profit sector. Take a look for a much needed chuckle.