See What Could Be
TAoN No. 76: Taking inspiration from street art. PLUS: A new Icebreaker, and more
Sometimes the most interesting thing to see is what’s not there.
This can be a very practical exercise: what’s missing that we actually need, and how do we figure out how to get it where it should be? But it can also be a lighter exercise. Certain street artists are great at imaging what could be, and I particularly love it when their vision of the possible overlaps cleverly with what’s present and seemingly unremarkable. I collect examples from the terrific site Street Art Utopia, and today I’m sharing some as inspiration.
The prompt: See delightful possibilities in surprising places.
Disclaimer: I’m not encouraging vandalism! This is about looking at the world creatively; what you do after that is up to you. ;) That said, each of these examples definitely started with some heroic noticing.
(Another source of similar inspiration: the Instagram account @tombobnyc.) Enjoy!
Here is an example from one of my very favorite artists who works with existing urban landscape elements and finds wonderful ways to transform them: Oakoak. More Oakoak on Street Art Utopia, and on Instagram.
Artist and location unknown. I know this one seems silly, but, really, very shrewd noticing and resultant creativity here. Impressive!
I really love Street Art Utopia — also on Instagram — where you’ll find all kinds of excellent street art, not just this niche that interests me so much. Putting this post together reminded me what a valuable resource it is, so I am now a supporter on Patreon.
Noticing is about other people, too. The Icebreaker series aims to help with that. There’s a central collection spot for all the icebreakers to date, here.
This week’s icebreaker is from reader Mallory Gilmore:
If you could be part of any world record, what would it be?
The back story: Mallory says she was talking to friends about the recent record-breaking temperatures in Canada — presumably a record most of us would prefer not to be part of. But that led her to this question. “I think it would be a neat little insight into what someone thinks is cool, and into their interests and personality,” she explains. “Do they want to break a solo, risky record (e.g., highest dive), or a goofy one (e.g., most straws in the mouth), or a big group one (e.g., largest round of ‘Ring Around the Rosie’), or a serious one (e.g., most patents owned)?”
I love all those examples, and I love this idea, a great one. Thank you Mallory!
As usual, I’m still working through the backlog of icebreaker submissions. But as always, I want more:
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or found it elsewhere) to firstname.lastname@example.org
On alternate Thursdays, I’m writing about how attention, engagement, and creativity intersect or overlap with work. Coming this week: the frenzy around the role of remote work, and what that frenzy is missing. That will be for paid subscribers! Sign up so you don’t miss anything. ; )
In other news
A handy reminder: Look up.
Gas Station Encounters: Security camera footage of shoplifters, with snarky voice-over commentary. A YouTube channel with 1.77 million subscribers (one of whom is now me). Oddly compelling.
“If a historian were to study you 150 years from now, which possession would be key to understanding your life?” Submit your answer here, part of a Historic Collection of New Orleans project/exhibition. (Open to people anywhere.) Thanks, Dave!
Friend and former colleague of TAoN Steve LeVine has launched The Electric, a new paid newsletter covering the very buzzy electric vehicle and battery space, in partnership with The Information. More here.
Okay that’s it!
As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals, things we need a word for, and of course your icebreakers: email@example.com. Or use the comments!
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And thanks for reading …
All this by Rob Walker PO Box 171, 748 Mehle St., Arabi LA 70032
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