There’s a not-old saying that a sure way to find your own voice is to speak in someone else’s voice first, then subtract the difference. In other words, be a copycat, and what you CAN’T imitate — well, that was yours all along to begin with. You may not fit in someone else’s dress, but do they have curves like these? Didn’t think so.
As humankind accumulates knowledge, it astounds me how specialized some fields become. Newly-discovered branches flourish in response to unlocked research and market demand. A relatively few brave souls bent on becoming “deep experts” — their life’s work! — dive towards the bottoms of these proverbial oceans.
There is another way to go deep, and that is to also go wide. In a colorful sense, traversing diagonally and dynamically. Often, “creativity” is simply about combining two (or more) known elements in unknown ways. That may mean linking a couple fields together that were previously viewed as unrelated. The common barrier to doing this is not one of a technical nature, but cultural prejudices. Every field has its own cast of characters, among them purists, who reject mergers with outside forces. It takes a modicum of persistent freethought to overthrow these shackles of societal conditioning… and prosper!
For example, witness the controversy around “modernist cuisine” and its flavorful “molecular gastronomy”. There is not opposition from traditional chefs, but infighting too. Beyond label disputes, it’s food science. I’ve seen (and wish to taste) some delectable wormholes being tunneled between cookery and chemistry: where the kitchen and laboratory are bethrothed! Regardless of what one chooses to call modernist cuisine, such friction has resulted in creativity, as how any burgeoning artistic movement splinters into sub-genres claimed by their champions.
On another note, I was enchanted to learn about Apollo Robbins, dubbed “the gentleman thief”. He’s mixed the art of magic with not just neuroscience, but photographic principles too! I was fascinated to hear him describe his physical act more vividly than a generic misdirection: explicitly, focusing someone’s attention to a “foreground” while the rest blurs out. All while he nabs their watch or pen, akin to a pickpocket bokeh. Through the fusions of these fields, new things are learned which can apply peripherally, latticed and latched onto other paths.
One more example I’ll entertain you with is the action-packed, zombie-smashing game, Dead Rising 2. I’ve been enjoying co-op mode with my brother, and we’ve raved about how the game uses a system of combining two ordinary household objects into a powerful (and oftentimes bizarre) weapon to clear out those zombies en masse. Fuse a costume alien head with sparkling jewelry to forge LASER EYES! Those concoctions bring to mind the playful energy of a tropetypical mad scientist, although such vibrancy need not be confined to a fictional realm. Happy accidents do and should happen more often!
In my own story, I care about alloying genres, envisioning how a trendy style will have developed differently (earlier? Later?) in an alternate universe. I’m also enamored with finding parallels between audio and visual phenomena. Ideal matches don’t exist due to differences in senses, but enough exists to form strong bonds. For example, applying a low-pass filter to remove high frequencies is like the sonic equivalent of blurring a picture. So is spatializing a sound in a wash of reverb. This is why some of my compositions are named after optical themes. I choose to explore these spaces because no one else is doing it exactly the way I want to. Rather than blame the absence of such art, I continue to study how to do it myself — and it feels amazing!
When you venture into the intersections of fields, it is almost certainly foreseeable you will be challenged, and irrationally so. It is a reflection on the insecurities of others’ worldviews, and doesn’t reflect the actual merit of your craft. The funny thing is, though, if you find a few resonant minds to confide in, then spend habitual time around them, THIS becomes your reality. One that is hopefully a nourishing and supportive environment to find the intersections that whisper to you — the streets that call your name.