Genius is individual, Scenius is communal, so says ambient music saviour and producer extraordinaire, Brian Eno.
There’s a great interview with Eno at the Guardian regarding the concept and motivations of “Scenius”. But in a nutshell, what he’s saying is that as artists, we’re somehow trapped within the confines of solitude and control, that in art, we focus on the end, and the by-product is genius individuals.
With Scenius, Eno hopes to turn that concept around on it’s head by putting the spotlight on collaboration and improvisation, and saying “Hey, we have collective genius too!” What grabbed me in the interview, was the surrender we ought to place on the art, to let it sway us, rather than us swaying the art. Improvisation’s not a new concept in my book, but it’s nice to see that Eno, who is known to be painstakingly meticulous find new-found passion in this concept.
It reminds me of the time when I was doing filmmaking in university, and I worked with a brilliant director, and also just as meticulous. At first, it grated against me casual, improvisational “just let it happen” producer ethos. But the more I worked with him, the more his ethic rubbed off on me, that I realised, magic doesn’t just happen in great art. And as a producer, I had to catch up, fast.
You could say, we’ve come to similar conclusions, but started on different sides of the playing field. Thus, my artistic ethos has more or less evolved into this, “We can only prepare as much as we can – to the best of our ability, just to capture the muse should she choose to visit us.”
That is to say, improvisation alone is not enough in art. An amount of preparation has to go in, so that you can capture the magic that happens in collaboration or improvisation. Eno and his comrades have paid their dues, so he’s allowed to make his claims, for us who still need to practice.. haha, well practice away!
I guess “Scenius” can be summed up with the equation 1 + 1 = 3, and if you happen to be in the Brighton area in May, check out the Brighton Festival where Eno is Guest Artistic Director.