UNDERGROUNDEfficiency kills intimacy

I received a word from the Creative Underground while going through the Wendy’s drive thru. Their methods of communication are ever more elaborate. I unwrapped the shiny red foil on my Dave’s Classic Double to find on the inside (along with a steamy aroma of bacon) a note, in ALL CAPS.



Love, T-C-U

Brilliant! The Creative Underground has messengers doubling as Wendy’s Employee’s! I can see them now, scrawling messages of creative freedom on every sandwich wrapping while sweating over the grease friars… “Efficiency kills intinmacy!”

My first thought was that I could taste some damp ink on my burger…My second thought was…What genius! Using a fast food restaurant as the vessel to deliver such a message. The irony of it! They are essentially saying, ‘Faster is not always better.’ Faster is not better if you lose meaning, and mastery, and love along the way. Sometimes, it is better to create slowly.

But Nick, (says the sensible sceptic) efficiency in itself isn’t a bad thing, is it? Developing a systematic process and going from A to B to C in a flow that allows you to focus more on what you’re making and less on how you’re going to make it, is just good sense, right? Is that kind of efficiency sterile and heartless?

No. This was not the kind of efficiency I was criticizing. Problems are introduced when efficiency is held as the creatives’ highest value. We as a society are now beyond efficient pleasantries. It’s not a “you wash, and I’ll dry” situation. We’re on a crash course to full out robotic ‘Automation!’ In other words, ‘human-less-ness.’ I’m not talking about ‘Industrialization.’ That’s old news. You know, Henry Ford and the assembly line. A big line of humans doing one mind-numbing task a day for 10 hours. 5 days a week.

Art still suffers from it. Why kill a rabbit to make gesso and stretch your own canvas over a handmade wooden frame? Just go on down to the hobby lobby and presto! Canvas’ by the dozen cheaper and faster than ever! Ultimate efficiency soon leads us to automation. Soon, humans won’t have to lift a finger to make the worlds cultural goods if we don’t want to. The very soul of the process, humanity, will die.

Listen carefully. I believe the Creative Underground is right. Art is intimate. We were born to labor, to bleed, to work. It’s the slow process (the sweet pain of it all!) that makes it so. You want to know why people keep painting subjects with oil paints even though you can spend 100’s of less hours on the same subject by pressing your index finger in a downward clicking/tapping motion on a shiny piece of technology? Because it’s human!

You are not a slick, shiny process. Slow down.

Be intimate. Be human again.