Sometimes, I like to think that under different circumstances, I could have been an artist. Maybe not, because I was born with motor dysgraphia (so it’s extra ironic that I’m a writer – luckily, typing is mostly unaffected for me). Drawing causes some pretty hefty pains in my hand after just a minute or two.
But to me, art is the purest form of creativity. You are taking the pictures in your head and presenting them to the world exactly as they are. Writing is imperfect. You have to explain and describe with your work. Artists skip that entirely, and what they were picturing is right in front of you, ready for you to see it.
So when someone like Zdzislaw Bekinski, one of my favorite artists, pictured something in his head, he produced this:
With lines and colors, he produced something that can invoke incredible emotions, from fascination to plain disgust and horror, in an instant. It’s automatic.
Even pursuing pure minimalism, it would take someone like me… I’m just gonna pull a number out of my ass and say… two or three dozen words to describe that. It’s nowhere near as efficient, and it’s definitely not automatic.
However, there’s something to be said about the imagination of words. The visualization is wholly on the reader. You can imagine a story about that painting, but it’s not necessarily implied in the painting itself. The reverse is also true about writing. A writer can tell you a story, but it’s up to you to imagine it.
So, for example, if I wanted to tell a one-word story, something to be processed instantaneously, about that painting, it might go like this:
But there’s approximately a zero-point-zero percent chance that someone who hadn’t seen that painting would imagine that exact scene, or probably even anything close. In fact, most would probably dream up a fire and brimstone, classic Christian iconographic Hell. But that’s not what I thought when I wrote those words.
On the other side of the coin, if you showed a dozen people that painting and asked them to tell a story about it, I feel like at least some of them would come much closer to telling what Bekinski was capturing than in the opposite approach. Bekinski captured what was in his head that thoroughly. I could write about that painting in 100 words and people would get a much clearer idea, but that just underlines the inefficiency.
Obviously, this is all supposition based on my personal biases and is in no way scientific. I have actually temporary forgotten the meaning of the word science due to a teleporter mishap. I hope you’ll understand.