A (Hypothethical) Definition Of Experimentation In Music, The Arts And Science
To be an experimentalist is to be searching. To search for something specific that has not yet been found, to be prey of a urge to explore and discover, to be looking for a thing unspecified, a ghost, a colored smoke, always that which is certainly ineffable. Often what one searches for only becomes clear in the course of the search itself. It could be said that the object of an exploration only gains reality through the real encounters with whatever crosses our path within the time frame in which we are creating. To explore is to be involved in an interaction, it is to touch with blind eyes, to listen without knowledge of what, it is almost rarely seeing, unless it means, looking at something indescribable like a cloud, more likely it is like a wonderfully improbable event, a bird landing on your window only to sing for you (a “for me!?” magical moment).
One never knows fully what is that other that is interacting with me. Is it merely an object? A passive substance that can be manipulated at will? Or is it rather more like a subject, producing it’s own peculiar effects upon us, having a life, a history of it’s own? Then the object seems to become only a simple invention, yet it reveals to us as something else. The act of exploration shows that that which is explored is for us more like the possibility of an object, rather than a fully determined and knowable object. To experiment, in a sense, puts question marks on the whole of our sense of reality by pointing out that that which we once recognized as “real” and “defined” is stranger than we thought, and becomes even more unknown the further we explore it.
The Otherworldly And The Root Of Ingenuity
And for all the otherworldliness that experimentation seems to imply, there is probably nothing more simple and, even, worldly. To be experimental is not only the nature of artists, scientists, designers, and problem solvers but also of children. That is why the ingenuity of creators and the ingenuousness of children have the same root, as being ingenuous, unsuspecting and inexperienced, is to be actually open to new experiences and to take experience as a truth to live by (even if in the long run it needs to be corrected).
In the same sense, in order to create, as an experimental musician, artist, or even as scientist one needs to be open to new ideas, and to new ways of looking at the world, it means to take new truths (hypothesis) and to live and work by them, to put them to a test and to discover their full implications. The world as we make sense of it is the product of an exploration, and almost paradoxically, the otherworldliness that the experimental ways of living and doing uncover to us is nothing more than an expansion of worldliness, of the world as we previously knew it. Otherworldliness is the world (re)discovered.
The Challenges Of Creativity: Discovery And Returning To The Known
To discover is perhaps one of the greatest joys of the experimental creator. Discovering or finding, is the achievement of something that serves as a found-ation. A place to build, a base to return and explore further, a shelter for the night. It is much necessary to get relatively established, if only provisionally, to have a small piece of territory, as the philosopher Manuel Delanda would say, in reference to Deleuze: “One should always keep a small piece of territory, always come back to that solid rock in order not to lose touch with reality. Too loose or too rigid rules will not produce anything interesting… ‘organizing chaos’ can only happen in the middle of extremes.”
Thus we can see clearly the challenges of creation and as such, of being experimental. On one side, to be open to the otherworldly, which is an almost childlike and somewhat risky manner of being worldy. Loosing the world to have it returned changed. On the other side, to explore is to move whilst being in need of a base camp, a provisional territory. There is always the temptation stay safely in a piece of “new” found land, to not abandon the first achievements. It is even necessary to establish in a territory, but how long, no one can tell. Creation is full of paradoxes, being otherworldy is the most worldly thing to do, and being in possession of a territory and periodically returning to it is a condition for exploration. Yet being too worldly or territorial will lead us away from experimentation and the joys and excitement of discovery and adventure.
There Is Truly Much To Be Found
We need only to sidestep from our certainties to find ourselves in a new uncertain place full of possibilities for artistic or scientific creation. And as paradoxical as life and experimentation can be, and they go always hand in hand, we can then have the certainty of a wavering reality, and the firm conviction of the instability of what once was thought to be “the way things were”.
The images and videos for this post are courtesy of Eva Villaseñor