Make Bad Art

Yesterday, I wrote about a babbling brook. I couldn't stop taking pictures of a beautiful forest, and felt guilty I was compulsively recording everything instead of "simply living the moment".

But once I started jumping around to get exciting angles, rearranging stones for better composition, moving aside plants to get better lighting... I realized that maaaybe "simply living the moment" was overrated, or at least, shouldn't be about standing around and doing nothing.

Coz living isn't passive, it's active.

And then there's the fact I wrote a blog post about it, rather than just, y'know, not doing that. I mean, who cares about a babbling brook I took pictures of? None of the pictures were even that good, anyway. In fact they were pretty rubbish.

But, see... just like how taking photos forced me to mentally organize the forest as a 3D space, writing a blog post forced me to mentally organize scraps of memories into a coherent narrative with lifelong lesson.

So what if most of my photos ended up blurry? So what if my last blog post kept confusing past & present tense? So what if this blog post abuses repetition and self-recursion? I still learned a hell of a lot, simply by chewing on my experiences, rather than passively experiencing them.

Coz it's not about the product, it's about the process.

And so, I've been writing one blog post a day. So far, it's only been a week, but the process has forced me to research, revise, and consolidate my fluffy, floating thoughts about virtual reality, explorable explanations, social-cognitive theory, game design, and damn good storytelling.

I wonder how different art forms can help me organize my thoughts in different ways.

Essays force me to create a linear argument or narrative. Diaries let me talk as if it were to a friend. Drawing may be best for visual learners. Musical rhymes are a great mnemonic device. Heck, maybe making games helps one think in systems and models.

Digest your experiences. Poop out art.

Whether it's your personal life or external topics, the world can be a messy place. But there's a way to make it a little more coherent, maybe even entertaining, and that is to...


Ironically, or fittingly, this blog post was bad art.

During the first draft of this, my argument got all muddled (and it's still quite muddled) because I got confused between learning-by-doing and learning-by-making.

Learning-by-doing: Learning X by doing it. (Example: when I wanted to learn how to do procedural rhetoric, I made Parable of the Polygons.)

Learning-by-making: Learning X by making a thing about it. (Example: when I wanted to learn more about procedural rhetoric, I tasked myself to make a tutorial on the topic, performing lots of research and analysis in doing so.)

Note that X can be either about "educational" or "social/personal" issues. If it's personal, it's more of a diary, and diaries have long been known to improve your psychological health, by helping you organize fragmented memories and confusing emotions.

Fantastic! By writing this blog post, I caught myself conflating these two concepts! Now I can see them as they are: overlapping, but distinct ideas. Wow, what a brilliant meta-example of the power of learning-by-doing! I mean, learning-by-making. I mean... fuck.