I'm going through A Year With Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno's Diary and highlighting favorite passages. I thought I'd start the New Year by sharing a few of them with you. The following passages are all by Brian Eno, the great experimental musician and producer. His observations are wide-ranging, but I'm focusing are ideas about artistry with economy, since it seems the financial meltdown is going to tighten theatrical budgets, and I like lo-fi theatre anyway.
"Old ideas don't go away- new ones just get added.
"Spending lots of money is often an admission of lack of research, preparation and imagination. We must be more careful about this sort of thing in future. How much more satisfying to make clever, original (cheap) choices.
"Looked at fine gilded details on finials at (Big Ben) clock face-wondering if they were visible at ground level. They were-as subliminal detail. (Dave) Stewart explained theory of 'least distinguishable detail' (Christopher Alexander has it too), and we discussed the idea of working beyond perceptible ranges of detail- the idea that the mind registers detail without necessarily being able to distinguish it.
"If all I'd ever wanted to do was make money, I'd probably be really poor by now.
"Saying that cultural objects have value is like saying that telephones have conversations.
"All this money has been squeezed out of various committees on the pretext that something of high cultural value is being made for it. But whatever of value is made will not be the bit that cost all that money. I always want to work the other way round: 'Tell me what you can spare and I'll make something from it.'
"There must always be a positive relationship between what goes in and what comes out. Thrilling if little goes in and much comes out; OK when much goes in if much comes out; completely unacceptable if much goes in and little comes out. Classify all proposals on this continuum."
(Describing a group art exhibit which he oversaw:) "Almost without exception the best works were the cheapest. There are many good reasons why this should be so, but perhaps the best is that people who haven't invested much feel free to change their minds. So the cheap shows were the ones that suddenly changed quickly and for the better at the last moment.
"A new kind of artist-one who turns abandoned industrial projects into useful (lovely) objects.
"' Why am I doing this?' The question that always precedes something worthwhile."