BIT Studio

October 3, 2014

Sunday in the Park with iThink

Filed under: MUSIC — webmaster @ 4:15 pm

  Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, produced in 1984 to commemorate the 1884 centenary release of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, is an artist’s view into the creative process. Sondheim uses pointillism to illuminate the human condition on issues such as back-to-basics (primary colours only), perception (distance mixes primary colours), perspective (big-picture thinking) and individuality (varied and plentiful opinions).

It is the story of Georges Seurat at work on his famous painting, taking it from conception through production to marketing. The show begins with George standing centerstage in front of a white screen, which slowly reveals components of his work-in-progress.

“White. A blank page or canvas.
The challenge: bring order to the whole.
Through design.
And harmony.
So many possibilities.”

Integrative Thinking: The “blank page” symbolizes the simplicity and freedom of unrestricted options (iThink: abductive logic, generative reasoning). The show leads the audience through the landscape of “so many possibilities” (iThink: salience), enhancing some and eliminating others as relationships between the salient points are established and analysed (iThink: causality). “Bit by bit, putting it together,” George assembles the components into his painting while continuing to add new material and dispose of old material as required (iThink: architecture).

The final work (iThink: resolution) presents itself only after the ladder of salience, causality, architecture and resolution has been incrementally ascended and descended many, many times measuring and assessing the nuances of design, colour, position, scope, tension, plot, balance, light and harmony each step of the way. The challenge of bringing order to the whole is accomplished by maintaining the objective of a big-picture solution while processing a broad base of salient points.

George’s driven quest for the best solution (i.e. not a compromise of unwanted offerings, A or B) exhibits characteristics of the “opposable mind,” able to hold many possibilities in place while working toward a resolution.

Stephen Sondheim is one of America’s most creative and innovative artistic minds. It is not a leap of faith to assume that the creative process imposed on Georges Seurat is that of Sondheim himself. The brilliance of his work can only be a result his passion (iThink: stance), his talent (iThink: tools) and years of dedication (iThink:experience).

The show ends with a recap of the opening lines as a young George (Georges Seurat’s alleged grandson) and Dot (Georges Seurat’s alleged girlfriend, speaking through her diary) reflect on the landscape of today’s artistic world, i.e. the state of the art.

“White. A blank page or canvas.
His favourite.
So many possibilities…”

Integrative Thinking at work.

Georges Seurat - Sunday in the Park

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