The Art of Cogne VI: Nothingness

I woke up yesterday to a virtual whiteout. The snow was falling thickly and the mountains encircling the town were invisible.

I took a photo of the whiteness, the nothingness. I liked the idea of the obliterated landscape. I felt relieved of any pressure to do anything: ski or read or write. I often feel I am at my most creative when I am faced with nothing.

I remember some time ago reading of an experiment in the sixties at a London art college. New students were shut into in a white windowless room for days. They were expected to create something in the room; something out of nothing. The ultimate tabula rasa. I read of this experiment at a time when I was struggling creatively, and I felt envious of those students. I wished I could be locked away in a white windowless room.

Once I spent a few weeks trying to draw the nothingness in my head. Some people are adamant that all artwork has to come from something, some external stimulus. That it is impossible to create art from nothing. That even when we believe it is entirely from within, it is still in some sense from somewhere.

I’m open to arguments either way. I have phases when I still draw from ‘nothing’, just following the marks as they appear, but it is hard to empty the mind completely of external stimuli. I’m sure someone somewhere will have researched this but in my wifi isolation, now won’t be the time I look to see.

Blue skies return. Ideas emerge. The stillness of nothingness does not last for ever in real life. I’m glad to take advantage of it though when I can.

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