Combinatory Play. A reminder to pursue curious investigation.


I’ve always been really interested in finding connections between seeming unrelated phenomena or channels of work. For years I’ve worked in the visual arts and graphic design and at the same time worked in the audio arts and sound engineering. I often found interesting the correlation between the different analog and digital tools used for manipulating audio and the tools for manipulating visuals. For a long tim eI had a creative idea that I never actualized which was to try swapping those tools for the different media. What would is sound like to run a snare drum through photoshops gaussian blur filter? What would it look like to turn up the reverb on a photo of a cat? Since this was an area of interest for me I read a lot about it and tinkered a lot to help hone my skills and understanding of each of the crafts. Always teasing out the connections between the two and applying them to each other.  As Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s most famous swordsman said, “From one thing,know ten thousand things…” — meaning that a deep study of one skill will yield knowledge that can be applied to all aspects of life. In my mind you can flip this around as well. From ten thousand things, know one thing. – meaning that by exploring many disciplines, one will come to understand common threads that can be extrapolated to apply to any other discipline. Einstein referred to this phenomenon as combinatory play.

In recent years I haven’t worked so much on the audio side, focusing more exclusively on the visual work. But I still subscribe to an awesome little magazine called Tape Op. I picked up the recent issue and was sitting and reading the letters to the editor section. And as I’m sitting there reading it I’m thinking in my mind; “Should I really be spending this time reading this? Would it not be a better use of my time to to be reading something relative to one of the many other actual hot irons I have in the fire right now and not this old cold one that’s laying off to the side?”

As I’m thinking that, realizing my mind is wandering and if I’m going to read the thing I should actually pay attention to reading it, I came across this gem of a comment from an anonymous reader. “The diversity of featured interviews and editorials and End Rants has definitely helped form principles I wholeheartedly value: open-mindedness, flexibility, and teachability. Music is the heartbeat of professional audio. Music is a flexible idea, a malleable medium, and a vehicle for human connection. I feel a responsibility toward, and gratitude for, music – and I uphold these by listening to stories and perspectives of everyone I can, including people with whom I disagree! Better to investigate something before I assume any authority

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment as it applies to much more than just music or the art of producing and editing it. These are core values that pave the road to where understanding and mastery intersect. Values I strive to bring to the table every day when I show up to do the work at hand.


Combinatory Play. A reminder to pursue curious investigation.

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