Have you ever seen the corpse of someone you love?

Do you notice how the person isn’t there anymore?

I know that’s obvious, right.

They’re dead.

Of course they’re not there.

But what I mean is, everything you recognised as the person is still there.

The arms, the legs, the head, the face, the hair, the clothes.

Absolutely every physical atom of the person you loved is there.

But they’re not there.

And you experience cognitive dissonance.

The physical stuff, all the evidence that they still exist, is there.

All that’s gone is something that didn’t physically exist in the first place.

And yet that was the person you loved.

The stuff that isn’t real is what made them real.

What’s left isn’t them, it’s just a Madam Tussaud’s waxwork.

The life has gone.

See, when we look at something we see the obvious.

The simple, the immediately apparent.

What we don’t see is the other element that brings it all to life.

Because it’s not obvious.

Years ago I was watching a documentary on animation.

It featured Richard Williams, one of the most brilliant animators.

Now as a layman, I didn’t know a lot about animation.

I thought the job was pretty much done once the characters were designed.

But he explained it isn’t just about the static drawing of the character.

It’s about movement.

The animation.

To make the point he filmed 20 seconds of a drunk walking around Soho Square.

Then he took the film and rotoscoped the drunk’s movements.

Then, frame-by-frame, he redrew each one everso slightly differently.

Subtly changing the way the drunk walked.

Then he ran the piece of film he’d redrawn.

The drunk still looked the same.

But, because of the way he moved, the drunk became a giraffe.

Then he became a lion.

Then he became a gazelle.

Richard Williams wanted to show how animation had a dimension that other graphic art didn’t have.

It had life.

Something you just couldn’t see in a still frame.

I had a similar experience with sculpture.

It didn’t seem to me that you could do anything in sculpture you couldn’t do in a painting.

Of course, I knew it was three dimensional instead of two dimensional.

But I didn’t get it.

Then I went to The Musee Picasso in Paris.

I walked around a sculpture of a woman’s head.

And as I moved around it changed totally.

Because I couldn’t see all of it from any one position.

Unlike a painting.

Where you can see absolutely everything from one position.

What I’d seen up to that point had been photographs of sculptures.

And photographs are two-dimensional.

So I didn’t get the third dimension until I walked around the sculpture.

Like the head of a bull that Picasso made from a bicycle seat and handlebars.

I’d seen it in photographs and wondered what the fuss was about.

Stick two things together.

Big deal.

But when you see the actual thing, you walk around it.

And from the side you can see the forward tilt of the horns (handlebars) and the uplifted snout (bicycle-seat).

In the flesh it’s so much more like a bull’s head.

It practically snorts.

So the mundane merely physical object lives on one level.

The excitement lives on another level.

The level of bringing something to life.

And that’s the level where creativity exists.

The spark that exists between other things that transforms them.

The bit that can’t really be quantified or measured.

The bit the purely rational mind struggles with.

Because you can’t add or subtract it on a calculator.

You have to feel it.

And feelings, like creativity, don’t exist in the purely physical world.


As George Lois says, “Creativity is 1 + 1 = 3″