New Visual Essay: Back to the Cave

Frank Chimero in his most desperate state is Frank Chimero writing a talk. Each time I go through the process, I swear I will never do it again. Then someone invites me to speak at a conference about innovation in a hot air balloon over Catalonia, so I say yes, then end up in the same desperate position.

One of my tricks is to start a new Keynote presentation and drop in images and quotes that feel loosely related or simply ones that I feel drawn to. Images can speak to me on this cryptic level, but text rarely does (even though I love both). I’m not sure how to describe this attraction to certain images other than to call it a seduction. The same image can have it on one day and not on another. If I were more hippy-dippy, I’d call it kismet.

Once I have a solid pile of nonsense, I push the slides around into groups and sometimes add in new slides with declarative sentences and words like “BUT” and “THEREFORE” to join it all together into a story. You get odd, cryptic puzzles like:

Sample slides

This is specific enough to feel like you have done work, but fuzzy enough to let you forget the details when you come back to it. It works much better for me than an outline. Eventually a story emerges, but the process always feels a little silly and gratuitous. I guess I can’t argue with results.

Unused slides from previous talks are another source for the “fake deck”. This is nice, because it eliminates waste: stray ideas find new homes and I get to continually circle my obsessions like a vulture who is here to pick the last meat off the bone. Old images or quotes turn into new images or quotes by the same artists through association, and like the metaphorical Ship of Theseus, I eventually end up with something new for all the airborne Catalonians.

I was dredging my archives this past week and came across “XOXO 2016.keynote”. Oh, huh. I guess I never posted that on my site afterwards, did I? So adapting my XOXO Festival talk from last September became today’s project to avoid working on the talk I should be writing.

The XOXO talk is called “Back to the Cave” and it’s about independence and creativity. It reworks and clarifies some of my old writing on these topics and presents them in a much cleaner and more memorable way. You can read the old talk here. As for the new talk? Wish me luck…

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