The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.
Consider this one the take a break from work edition. It is perhaps a bit New York City centric but the spirit of it applies universally. If you don't take the time to experience things outside the realm of your day to day work you are severely cutting your ability to be inspired. In addition, as Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons convey in their book The Invisible Gorilla, if you are hyper-focused you are very likely to begin experiencing a psychological phenomenon that renders you unable to see things that are right in front of you, in a kind of blindness that compromises your intuition.
With that in mind here are a couple of suggestions to clear your mind and perhaps lead you to new experiences:
• Viral video kings OK GO have developed a collaborative dance piece with the fantastic Pilobolus dance company. They are in residence at The Joyce Theater until August 6 with the band dancing with the company on July 25 and 27. If it takes OK GO to get you to see dance at The Joyce Theater, the home of dance in NYC, then so be it. Your creative life will be richer for it.
• British company Punchdrunk has developed an extraordinary new work called Sleep No More. They company have taken over three warehouses and transformed them into The McKittrick Hotel. You arrive, meet at the bar, and then a strange character hands you a mask. For the next three hours, in silence and while wearing the mask, you traverse the hotel exploring complexly designed spaces and follow the actors as they re-enact a version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Everything, from the sound to the objects in the rooms, is tone perfect. You are free to do as you please and explore. In a recent performance I followed Lady Macbeth and watched her wash her bloody hands. Characters sometimes use the audience to pass notes to other characters.
Sleep No More is wordless Shakespeare, living film noire, the best of contemporary dance, true augmented reality, masterful storytelling, respectful homage, detailed design and that is not even taking in consideration the technical requirements needed to produce and perform such a "play" every night. Punchdrunk have taken the performing arts and remixed them creating something completely new, yet familiar, and absolutely spellbinding.
• And speaking of Shakespeare, you have not experienced New York completely until you have attended Shakespeare In The Park, produced by The Public Theater. It consistently presents some of the best Shakespeare productions with Central Park as the backdrop. This year's productions are The Merchant of Venice and The Winter's Tale and they run until July 30th.
• Now until July 24 is restaurant week in NYC, with dozens of restaurants creating prix fixe menus that are affordable and a great way to discover new cuisines. Have a decent meal with friends for a change and for goodness sake, no talk of work.
• Looking for something that you can explore at your own pace? Starting July 24 and running until November 7 The Museum of Modern Art is displaying Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects in the special exhibitions gallery. From the exhibition description "Talk to Me explores the communication between people and things. All objects contain information that goes well beyond their immediate use or appearance. In some cases, objects like cell phones and computers exist to provide us with access to complex systems and networks, behaving as gateways and interpreters. Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers help us develop and improvise the dialogue."
• Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, at The Met until August 7, will make you question everything you know about fashion and art and their roles in your life. It is a glorious tribute to an artist gone too soon. A friend recently described it as "the most lavish and gorgeous visual concert ever produced" and I have to agree.
• Can't attend any of these this weekend. Well, iTunes has Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 available for $.99 rental until next Tuesday. Revisit Part 1 and then head to the theater to catch Part 2 as the Harry Potter movie saga comes to an end.
• For those of you that have not read the Harry Potter books, let me try to entice you to read them with the words of Stephen King "Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity." J.K. Rowling single-handedly got a generation of children to read and at over 3000 pages total across seven books that's a lot of reading. She changed the publishing industry. The recently announced Pottermore is set to change publishing once more as she releases the novels in ebook format. But the main point here is not the praise or the business, the point is that a single mother, during tough times in her life, had a singular vision and worked very hard to create a world were hard work, loyalty and persistence pay off. So go right ahead, take a break from work, dive into the series, you may not like it, you may love it, you may be re-reading it, but above all you may learn how to apply that same level of creative detail to your own work.
There you have it, no excuses, walk away from the screens for a few hours and fuel your creativity with something unknown.