Sensing the Minutiae of the Infinite

Minutiae. The infinitely small things in life. These are the things that attract me most. I realize that many people are attracted to the grand gestures, the larger than life experiences. But for me, I find the small gestures most profound. 

When I'm working with music, it is often the small sounds, the subtle nuances, that I seek. Frequently, I try to play as quietly as possible. Anyone can play loudly and basically assault people with their music. But I find it much more interesting to play softly, subtly, even almost imperceptibly, in order to draw people in, to have them lean forward and focus on what I'm doing. I also find these small sounds to be the most fascinating.

The Subtle Experience
There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot. - John Cage

Exercise #1: Sit comfortably and imagine doing your art. Close your eyes and look out as if you are actually painting, dancing, writing, performing. Look upon yourself not only as the practitioner, but also as the observer. 

How do you look?
How does your art look?
How does the physical experience of doing your art look?

Don't just look at the big picture. Look at the small details, like how the muscles in your forearm contract, the expression on your face, or how your fingers curl around your brush/instrument/etc.. Look at your work. Walk around it 360ยบ and notice the fine details. Zoom in like you have a microscope. Look for the subtle changes. Listen for the subtle vibrations. Notice as much as you can. Feel it like you are really doing it. And remember it.

Exercise #2: Remember what you just imagined and recreate it in real life. Make your art real and bring to it all the small, minute, details that you imagined. 

This is the heart of your practice, connecting you to your art, and, your art to you.

~ MB

Art as Small Gestures


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