The theatre of the mind —
re we fit enough to use ours?
The world's couch potatoes purchased 220 million flat-panel televisions last year to an estimated value of US$115 billion. However, that's not where it ends; some 2.7 billion screens worth a further US$110 million were also purchased – in the form of smart phones, tablets, gaming gadgets and touch screen kiosks. The world is becoming visually literate about everything in real time to the point where nothing is left to the imagination.
Sadly we are becoming less creative as result, and more iterative in our ideas. We are guilty of plagiarism almost without knowing it - most of what we think is new we have actually seen before. We adopt and adapt from things we have seen, rather than being truly creative and using the theatre of our own minds to see things in new ways. Everyone has the potential to use his or her imagination yet we are becoming lazier by the day as we are increasingly presented with imagery from elsewhere, not of our own.
What will this do to our imagination and is the world becoming less creative? Is creativity now in the hands of fewer and fewer across the world, leaving the rest of us as mere commentators? Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge. It is a fundamental skill through which people make sense of the world and plays an important role in the learning process. Read a child a story on your knee one day and you will evoke a world rich in imagery, which is sadly lost as we grow up. Despite all of the real-time visualisation around a child you can enthrall them in a few paragraphs with a good engaging story.
All great creative ideas begin with the script devoid of imagery and the essay is at the heart of any new creative direction. I believe that imagination is more powerful than knowledge, that a myth is more potent than history, and that dreams are more powerful than facts. There will be a movement back to a more imaginative era, when we finally tire of endless iterations squeezed out by obsessive market researchers and their focus groups, which always feel safer with the “bland brand”.
The theatre of the mind is usually the sum total of us. An incredibly powerful tool, if we are fit enough to use it. My hope is we are just beginning to knock on the door of a new highly imaginative era where we participate more with our own vivid imaginations and produce works the world has never seen.
Mozart, Shakespeare and the like in stature, with truly original material, saw music and words in their heads, telling stories we had never heard before. We entered their rich theatres with all its pageantry and have become completely captured. As William Shakespeare said himself, “The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet, are of imagination all compact”
Bring on this fresh and imaginative world. I can't wait.