The Spark

Creativity is in my view an essential ingredient of Happiness so it will be a common theme in this blog – be it music or art, film-making or interactive media, it is rich in Simple Pleasures.

The other day I was at a talk by Matthew Bannister, formerly of Radio 1 and golden age GLR, on Creativity at the Rich Mix centre in Bethnal Green Road courtesy of Jez Nelson and Somethin’ Else.

A lot of the focus was on experimenting, taking risks and making mistakes – all critical to innovation and covered in The Blue Movie and The Green Movie which I made in 1994 and 1996 repectively. Matthew spoke a lot about Chris Morris and his uncompromising risk taking, using clips from Blue Jam. He also quoted a resonant piece from ee cummings about how difficult it is to be individual in a world constantly pushing us to be like everyone else. It makes me think of that Mordillo comic strip: “We’re all different!” “I’m not?!”

I think I’ve taken a few creative risks in my time – most appropiately with MindGym. My current commission, the mobile blogging bit of the Big Art Project, is fairly against the grain, I’ve had to fight hard for it so far – can’t wait to get motoring on it with Alfie Dennen and co.

OK, so here’s my Big Theory on Creativity, inspired by Andre Breton and the Surrealist Manifesto – one of the few useful things to come out of a Modern Languages degree. Creative energy comes from bringing disparate things together and trying to get a spark (etincelle) to jump (jaillir) between these two poles, things that don’t ordinarily belong together. Bread rolls and feet in Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. Narcissus and an egg in Dali’s painting. A mouldy spillage and fighting bacteria in the case of Alexander Flemming. Hollywood movies and implementing ideas in that lost gem The Green Movie – a connection inspired by Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty.

It’s all about making the Spark fly.


The value of the image depends upon the beauty of the spark obtained; it is, consequently, a function of the difference of potential between the two conductors. Manifesto of Surrealism , Andre Breton 1924

5 comments so far

  1. Paul Bennun on

    Talking about language degrees, Ben Jonson thought Donne’s poems sucked — “The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together.” Creativity, creating links, making gags funny and poems beautiful.

  2. Psychlogical Traveller on

    Ah, but The Green One is not lost. There is a management revolution in Kosovo and the Green Movie is inspiring it. And the Macedonians loved it too. And the Georgians. Sadly it flew way above the heads of Birmingham City Council. But you are right to say it is a gem.

    Re: Chris Morris. Have you ever heard the stuff he did very late in 1993 with Peter Cook? Peter Cook said he was the only person who could compete with him at a level beyond any post-war British comic. And there was some stiff competition.

    Re: Jez Nelson. The other day I unearthed a cassette I made in around early 1990. I taped part of a jazz Fm (in the great 1st year) allnighter featuring only the music of Herbie Hancock. In the studio were the great Giles Peterson, Jez Nelson and Chris Phillips off their collective heads and talking Herbie for hours. Could it happen now? If you want a happiness moment then it was me transported back 15 years with no cares, just leaving the Daily Mail to join Melrose and absorbed in jazz and great friendships. Happy days. I remembered the show so well and thought the tape had gone forever. An exquisite moment.

  3. […] beating heart of creativity. It relates directly to the André Breton quotation at the bottom of this very early post from Simple Pleasures Part […]

  4. theluckhabit on

    How nice to read this again 15 years later. Referring to your Facebook post that referenced this I ended up using Andre Breton myself, thanks to you, in one of my own books.

    • ArkAngel on

      Happy to have made a small contribution. Make’s that university education that little bit more worthwhile.

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