The Artist’s Dilemma: You don’t know what you don’t know

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Let’s face it, we all have blind spots.  I’m not talking about the blind spots you deal with regularly when driving a car ( but those are also important to watch out for), I want to discuss the other forms of blindness we fall victim to, the shortsightedness that is fundamental to our very nature.  They are the unknown unknowns of life, the things we have not grasped- and scarier still, the concepts that we don’t know we don’t know. While that phrase may seem redundant and ridiculous at first glance, the truth is that it is some of the best advice I have ever received.

                These blind spots exist in all aspects of our lives. Whenever you try something new you are faced with unknown challenges, and when you come to that inevitable bump in the road you must create a way to get over it- regardless of whether it is efficient of meaningful.  And when you propose a new idea, turn in a school project or take a test- you are faced with the unknowns of how your peers will react, what important details you missed on your project, or what questions you failed to comprehend on the exam. The bottom line is, we don’t know everything.  Just like a child who is unaware of the world’s evils is inherently vulnerable to them, we become vulnerable to the things we are inherently unaware of.

This concept actually has a name. It’s called Anosognosia.

Anosognosia: a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.

                At this point you may be thinking “Duh, obviously I don’t know the things I don’t know, I realize I am not knowledgeable about everything.” Well, you’re absolutely right. This phenomenon is so simple and fundamental that you’ve probably thought of it before, BUT you’ve probably never acted on it.   So how do we combat these unknown unknowns- this inherent, tragic flaw?  The answer lies in human interaction and collaboration. We must seek the advice and opinions of those who will be affected by our decisions- use them to bounce off ideas and make modifications to our grand plans. People are flawed and make mistakes, but by banding together we minimize these risks, we expand our knowledge, we create better ideas.  The best remedy for the” unknown unknowns” are individuals who challenge us, and are willing to tell us the truth- even if it means damaging our pride.

                So why exactly is this some of the best advice I have ever received? As an artist, creative thinker and blogger it is essential to be aware of these blind spots, because when you create something your audience is the world. If I have a better grasp of my own short comings, I am able to not only improve myself but better identify with others.  Through collaboration, I create connections, broadening my platform for better tools in everything I create.  Ultimately, by working with others I actively take part in innovation and grow through the process of trial and error.  Perhaps that is the greatest joy in creating- the artistic license to throw ideas at blank slates endlessly.

girl-painting-easel

                For more on Anosognosia check out these AWESOME articles: http://thereadinessisall.com/2013/02/12/anosognosia-the-word-school-leaders-innovators-reformers-and-teachers-must-learn/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?_r=0

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3 thoughts on “The Artist’s Dilemma: You don’t know what you don’t know

  1. As a photographer and artist, I worry about the angles I don’t think about taking, the pictures I forget to take, and the moments that slip past me while I’m somewhere else. It’s inevitable, of course, but do you think about them too? Doesn’t it make you crazy that you could be close to an artistic musing, but you’ll never get to it?

    As an artist, how does that unknown unknown come to fruition for you, when you can’t rely on collaboration?

    • I think the greatest difficulty for me lies in the ideas I didn’t come across until after I finish a particular piece- or the risks I didn’t take in putting together whatever it is I’m creating. I agree with you that it is inevitable we will sometimes miss moments, and let ideas slip past us in the process. But the important thing is to recognize what we have missed, at least most of the time, and attempt to learn from these losses. Thank you so much for commenting!

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