The Cube is a brainstorming mind game that I've used throughout my life. It was initially created as a problem solving method that I developed for myself, but over the years its become a primary source for brainstorming and creativity. Its assisted me in developing new and unusual ideas for my art.
I begin by imagining a simple three dimensional cube in my mind. On the surface of the cube I place information about the problem I am currently trying to solve. Each side is devoted to a different aspect of the problem. Once I've filled the cube with what I know, I set it to spinning slowly in my minds eye.
If I run out of sides to add data, I just add more sides in my minds eye.
Its not unusual for me to have a dozen or more of these slowly spinning cubes hanging in the back of my mind. From this point I largely ignore them and let them do their work. A single cube may lay there for months or years.Occasionally some new piece of data will add itself to a cube from something I read, observed or crossed in my day to day life. When this happens a cube may start to spin a little faster. On other occasions, the data from one cube may suddenly drift and two cubes may bounce against each other forming a new cube that spins faster. Data from one problem has suddenly become part of the data and solution for another problem that may have been totally unrelated prior to that point.
Now I ignored the old information. My focus is on the cube itself in my mind. I am watching for my subconscious to work for me. When any given cube spins faster, its an alert to my mind that something has changed. Then its time to go back and examine the information on the cube and re-evaluate its data.
When any given cube begins to spin quickly, I know I've found a potential solution to the problem. The quicker the spin, the more likely that a solution has been found. Usually the solution has been achieved from data that I never would have consciously considered before. But my unconscious often times sees solutions before my conscious mind can catch up.
I'm not sure this process is any different than what any good brainstormer does in his/her own way. The only difference is that as an artist I needed a method that was visual rather than just empirical data. This allows me to see the brainstorming process.
There is an actual program that is similar to this process in a vague way. Its called CMap. It allows you to visually link ideas together in a software program. I find it can be helpful if you need a conscious reminder of information in front you. But I find the cube method words better for me because it takes place at an unconscious level.
However you do it though, in the end its about bringing data together that may have never been considered before in order to form something completely new. You can never be sure where a good idea is going to come from and only from examination and consideration of what others may label as ridiculous, can something new be achieved.
Here is a more concrete example for its usefulness in art. I usually begin brainstorming ideas for an art piece well in advance of completing a current piece I may be working on. When I begin, the data that I add to the cube includes not only possible bits of ideas, but types of materials I might use and ideas gleaned from past works and new techniques just used. By putting it all together there is a combining that takes place that often yields new previously unimagined concepts. Recently I set two cubes spinning in expectation of two different future pieces of art that I might create. Somewhere in my subconscious, these two separate cubes (ideas) began to merge. I felt my heart rate quicken as I suddenly came to the conscious revelation that by combining the two ideas that I suddenly had a much stronger more vibrant piece of art to create. Both ideas by themselves were adequate, but only from the merging of those imaginary cubes in my mind did I suddenly realize the potential of taking a bit from one idea and a bit from the other to form a whole. When that cube in my head starts spinning fast, get out of my way because its crucial that I capture the information quickly and get it typed out, or else I may lose it if the cubes slow back down. Once I have the basics written out then I can begin the steps to make it into reality.
I know for some, this concept may seem like hogwash, but we each do what we know works for us. This works for me and I would like to think that it yields some pretty cool and very unique art.
Please feel free to comment on this, ask for clarification or share your own artistic brainstorming ideas.