Introducing LightBox Collaborative


Art has a trap in it. It’s very easy to get stuck over-analyzing and reworking something to the point of surrender. When you reach that point, it can mean the end of a single project or even threaten future ones. We talk about creative block and all these barriers to getting our vision into the world, sometimes forgetting that there’s an aspect to art that has nothing to do with vision. It doesn’t require planning. It doesn’t care what you think of it. When permitted, it just flows into being. Getting out of the way of that is a hard thing to learn.

Fortunately, I’ve been given a chance to practice. A good friend invited me to contribute music to an animation project called LightBox Collaborative. The way it works is simple: a group of 4-5 people get together, a theme is chosen, everyone gets a Sharpie, a small light box, and a stack of blank index cards. Each person then starts drawing frames of an animation based on their interpretation of the theme. After exactly ten minutes, everyone trades cards and picks up drawing from the previous person’s stack.

Having participated in one drawing session, I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun and surprisingly stressful. The pressure to produce something “good” in ten minutes time–or simply to produce enough frames to make a second or two of video–can be fairly intense. But because that limit is strictly imposed, an interesting thing happens: your brain kind of shuts off. There’s really no time for thoughtful creative decisions. You’re forced to move quickly and surrender to the process.

When we first discussed my involvement I made a conscious choice to enforce similar limitations on the music. I gave myself about an hour per video to compose and record. Sometimes that meant letting go of something that wasn’t completely ready and often it meant telling my friend to feel free to chop and edit the music any way he saw fit, which he did.

This has been a great and uncomfortable exercise, which suggests that it’s probably doing some good. And it’s also really fascinating to see how quickly the animations evolved. As the project continues, the product is improving and becoming more complex almost on its own and despite the lack of exhausting oversight or revision. Not to say that it’s been easy, but rather that it has developed in a very organic way.

Four videos have been released so far and there’s a whole bunch awaiting release. Below are links to the ones available now. Thanks to Heavens Mechanic for letting me be a part of the fun.

LBCAP 001: Invert Slow Audio




LBCAP 003: Tropical Snowmen Birthday Party


LBCAP 004: Skull Ballad


Please consider subscribing to the Heavens Mechanic YouTube Channel to support this project.



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