Conquista -The Cycling Quarterly

Issue 5

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Talent, Creativity and the Eternal Pursuit of Happiness

I heard an interesting statement the other day.  It was on the radio, or I read it, I don’t quite recall, anyway, apparently there will be more photographs taken in 2014 than the sum total of all photographs ever taken in every previous year all added up.  I’m not even sure that’s actually a fact, but it sounds kinda plausible.

It stuck in my mind because, similarly, a few months ago I heard another claim, on the radio, or in the pub, whatever, that more books will be published in 2014 than the sum total of all books ever published in all previous years all added up together.

Moores law suggests that the microchip capacity doubles every two years. Technology is rapidly advancing and converging. The average smart phone is now a mini computer, a great camera, and an alarm clock, equipped with GPS and all those Apps.  There’s an App for just about anything you can think of, and plenty things you would never think of.

We live in an age where a couple of blokes of average intelligence, living in different countries, can publish a global magazine in their spare time, and be shortlisted for an industry award in their first year, with little more than a sense of adventure.  Connectivity, rapid information exchange, and social media all make this possible.  And a fair few late nights.

Thanks to Instagram everyone with an iPhone now thinks they can be a photographer.  And since the advent of Kindle, everyone who ever believed they “had a book in them” is now self-publishing.  But where is the quality control, and importantly, does it really matter?  My local newspaper has fired all its photographers and instead given iPhones to their remaining journalists.  Progress?  Perhaps…

What is talent, and who are we to judge?  A dictionary definition, and I don't mean the Urban Dictionary definition of ‘talent’, (oh no, that’s something completely different) might be ‘a natural ability to be good at something’. The definition makes no reference to what that something might be or place a value on it, stating whether it should be considered worthwhile or not. Yet we, throughout our established world order appear to prioritise certain talents above others. The reasons behind this are debatable, but according to the revered Sir Ken Robinson, the system we have devised seems primarily to serve Universities in their production of Professors.

There is an established pecking order and it looks something like: Maths at the top, then Science and Languages, then the Humanities. Somewhere down the bottom we find the Arts.  And within the Arts, Fine Art is given higher status than Music and Dance.  Children at school are discouraged from "wasting their time" on such “trivialities” and are instead encouraged to try harder at the subjects which "you will get a job doing". Sir Ken argues that we systematically educate creativity out of kids.  Let's say that again: We teach kids to be less creative. Speaking in his famous TED talk in 2006 he claimed, "all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly". He argues creativity in education should have the same status as literacy.  We agree.

If you are not prepared to risk being wrong, it’s pretty likely you will never come up with anything original.  By the time we become adults we are terrified to ever be wrong. Companies are run like this. Failure is stigmatised. A mistake is the worst thing you can make.  The result is dreary, monotonous, samey averageness.  Picasso said all children are born artists.  Where do they all go?

With more stuff available to look at and more stuff available to read than ever before, we are pretty damn pleased you took the time to look at our pictures and read our stories.  If you like what we do please share it with your friends and get in touch.  Share your images and stories with us.  We strive to celebrate the best of photography and writing.  Giving a platform for new talent as well as more established journeymen.  We can’t put everything in the magazine, but we have endless opportunities through our website and social media channels, and we want you to make them all buzz.  You never know, you might rediscover that inner creativity deep down inside that’s been struggling to find an outlet.

Keep 'er lit.