The Importance of Teamwork

Well, the Texas by Light production trip across Texas is done.  Our friends Marko93 and Mehdi have returned to France and the rest of our team has dispersed to the four corners of Texas and “normal lives”.  The Texas by Light production experience was pretty spectacular, if a bit taxing.  However, even in the most challenging situations our team was buoyed by an underlying sense of respect and humility for the grand effort each of us was putting into the production.

Individually, each person working on Texas by Light, whether they were with us the entire journey or just for a single event, was palpably engaged and connected both to the particulars of the production effort and also to the underlying concept of a collaborative experience that has an inherent value.

It was, as I like to call it, gonzodocumentarianism: documenting a subject, concept, or process in a manner that allows for the creative influence of the documentarian who is affecting/constructing the process while simultaneously experiencing it from within rather than from a “detached observer” position.

Light painting can be done alone, but the real magic comes from an interactive creative experience with other people and the environment.  Texas by Light is predicated on this tenant.  Also, any production is impossible without people to handle the component parts and fulfill the many, varied duties involved.  Nobody can do it all themselves, regardless of talent and/or determination, and Texas by Light works to integrate people that have “mad skills” individually into a functioning unit that challenges even the most skilled and experienced among us.

Texas by Light, hopefully, pushed the boundaries for everyone and brought us all out of or “comfort zones”.  Working alongside people in whom we see equal or greater skills, and using the respect for them and the product to push our own skill sets further  is one of the most powerful effects of collaboration and teamwork.

Being challenged and faced with valuable, potentially unexpected, alternative views is not the always the easiest situation to be in.  All of us have pretty firmly entrenched views and/or perceptions of how “things should work”.  Letting go of our individual paradigms enough to engage with the reality of other peoples’ process, and to validate the contribution that every team member makes may sound simple enough, but it’s often a challenging process to reconcile everyone’s expectations, skill sets, and preconceptions.

For me, the ultimate affirmation for Texas by Light is the way in which it was able to bring together such a radically diverse and committed series of people and artists.  We had a core production team, but the list of artists, assistants, administrators, sponsors, fans, and family that really made Texas by Light is what makes me think that we are successful.  The fact that so many people from literally across the World and across Texas made massive, concerted efforts to contribute to Texas by Light is proof of concept.  It’s proof that there really is an inherent value in the process of light painting and, more generally, in collaborative group art efforts.  All of the people involved in Texas by Light share a distinctly similar reason for participating; they sense, and react to, a feeling both from the “art object” of light painting and from the energy created by the ongoing group interaction. They see the proverbial, and sometimes literal, sparks fly and they are drawn to it.  They are drawn to it because we are inherently social animals that share a fundamental “receptor” that responds to other peoples’ energy as well as the simple act of creation.

When “bystanders” see a group of 10+ people actively engaged in creating art right in front of their eyes it’s pretty powerful.  But when they are drawn into the process and find themselves a part of the group, and by definition a part of the art,  then hopefully they will walk away from the experience with a new sense of empowerment and creative initiative.

It sounds great, but it’s not always easy.  Honestly, it is exhausting to constantly be in a state of technical, creative, social and professional hyper-awareness.  Texas by Light put everyone in this state and lasted for 13 days, 13 days of intense exposure and grand geography (read long travel days). It was 13 days of reconciling the cold hard realities of how many hours there are in a day, when the sun goes down, when to eat, following a production schedule while still having fun and then on top of it all the filming all takes place at night.  When you add sheer physical exhaustion to the mix because you filmed until 4AM then drove 6 hours then filmed till 2AM then then next day drove for 4 hours…etc….things can get challenging very quickly.  Texas by Light also had many people working together, and meeting each other for that matter, for the very first time.  For all the lovely concepts about group art collaboration there are also some unavoidable physical limitations that must be respected, even when they aren’t… ;-).

The strong belief that we were all working for a proverbial “greater good” carried us all along using the nexus of support generated by the contributions of each person.  We all had times in which we would “take up the slack” and the division of labor that existed kept us moving forward and production solid.

Texas by Light is in post production and you can see brief clip here.

There is much much more to come as Texas by Light gets edited by the talented Mehdi Idir.

Stay Tuned!


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