Thursday, October 1, 2015

AM Keynote - The One, The Only...Adam Savage

Innovation in the Making

"When we look at Adam Savage, this is someone who doesn't learn in the traditional ways...he's not teaching anyone, but we're all learning through it." - Dave Kelly re: Adam Savage

His Father, The Painter, The Poet

Adam's dad was a painter and a poet and wrote a limerick, calling out the falsehoods behind academia.  "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" is the quote he references, and he's spot on - Too often we have to have some kind of fact or framework to find something appealing...we can't just like it, we just can't be curious about something. 

Art & Science - We often say about things that are complicated that it's an art AND a science.  Art and science are viewed as opposites, but Adam doesn't believe that they are.  We think of art and science as parts of our culture best handled by EXPERTS.  Three reasons why:

1.) We see Art and Science as opposites.  We see art as a loosy goosy thing that kids do, and science is something we suffer through.

2.) We view art as separate from ourselves.  If you Venn diagramed, we and science would be completely removed circles.
3.) When we don't know something, we don't even try.  Which is BS.

Let's Work Backwards

People look at Jackson Pollack and say "What's so great?  My kid could do that."  Fair enough...but Adam looks back through art movements throughout it's tore through subject and left a story.  But we do that same thing with science: Story is related re: the material science behind breaking spaghetti...and we're JUST NOW understanding how it breaks.

Ellie Lammer did a study of Berkeley parking meters, when she was 12, and whether they were timing correctly.  Her study was so rigorous and so revealing that a piece of legislation (Lammer's Law) was passed and enforces standardization.

Adam foes on to give more examples, but suffice to say...we've been trying to find the story behind the subject.

Every generation since we've been writing stuff down has felt the same way about science.  Want proof?  SPORTS.  All sports talk about science.

The Second Cause - Art is Separate From Us

"Art is ONLY what we like." - Adam's Dad

The only opinion about art that's wrong is when you take it from someone else.  But we do the same thing with science..."I'm just not a math guy".  But Adam's friend (a filmmaker) said "I'm great at math, I'm just not good at numbers."  The art of editing is all about algorithms.  So he's using it without identifying with it.


Let's see:

1.) Come up with a question.  Adam relates, though, that this is the hardest part.  You don't start, necessarily, with the question - You start at the end point and work back to discover where the TRUE question is at (see: Running/Walking in the rain).

2.) Form a hypothesis.  Based on the question, then, what potential truth is it you want to find/arrive at?  Forming a hypothesis is a self-generating act...the more you come up with, the more you come up with.  Ideas lead to questions, questions lead to hypotheses...

3.) Design an experiment that tests your hypothesis.  Pull away variables to get past your biases and test the actual truth in something.  Per Adam, this is one of the greatest ways to look at viewing art. "To know what is true in your secret heart is true for all men."

Conclusion?  The Scientific Method is MOST DEFINITELY a creative process.  Art and science are intrinsic to how we discuss who we are.  When cavemen came together, carving stones in different ways to kill bigger animals? SCIENCE!  When they got together to celebrate killing larger game and drew cave paintings of this process? ART!

It's All Story

When you stand in front of a Jackson Pollack, you'll find a story.  When you look at a map of the universe and its shape?  It's a story.  Art and science are simply two different versions of a narrative.  Science has rigor, art has everything else.  Stories are the reason we have language.  We evolved language in order to tell each other stories, which is a conversation.  Which is culture...and culture is a conversation.  We can be stewards of a better culture by realizing art and science are not opposites.  How do we do better?

1.) Pay Attention - Adam is confronted with ideas and concepts he's never been confronted with before, but if he reads enough about a subject (see: science of viscosity) he can be a steward of that knowledge.  What he came to learn was that viscosity wasn't actually a value, but a relationship.  But if he hadn't had a conversation, he wouldn't have arrived at those truths, and the episode wouldn't have happened as awesomely as it did. 

2.) Speak Your Mind - once you've investigated something enough, it's important to actually verbalize it.

3.) Stay Curious - Curiosity is something that tends to leave's a great moniker for life.  The more curious you are, the more interesting life is. 

4.) Ask Questions - Adam's had to work hard in life at being able to say "I Don't Know".  We have all pretended to know shit, but the most intelligent people Adam knows are the ones who can.  WOW can I relate...

5.) Tell Your Stories (But Listen, Too) - Share your stories, but listen to other people's stories, too.  Are you a listener or a wait-to-talker (!!!)?  Listen to the person in front of you, stop logging your stories.

I could wrap it up with some summary statement, but I'll let Adam speak for it:

"Art and Science are the twin engines by which we improve as a species.  They make us ALL better and NEITHER is beyond our understanding."

So, Adam Savage?  Unbelievable keynote? CONFIRMED.

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