When Art and Technology Have a Baby

This afternoon I’m meeting with Lincoln Schatz (pronounced “shots”), an American portrait artist whose work has just been acquired by the Smithsonian. I first met Lincoln a few years ago at an event in his studio. I was mesmerized by the images that floated like ghosts across the walls. Part programmer and part videographer, Lincoln’s customized computers deliver generative moving portraits of people the likes of George Clooney as commissioned by Esquire Magazine.

Not satisfied to just make art, Lincoln is also mastering the process of creating change. His Cure Violence project teaches Chicago area youth from blighted communities how to tell their stories using video art. Cisco is one of the project’s sponsors. According to Lincoln, the project has been both gratifying and vexing. It’s not easy changing a culture from destructive to creative in the face of grinding poverty.

I hope to learn about it.

I learn more from stories about disappointment than glory. Handling success doesn’t really demand perspective or inner coaching. Creative people have vivid imaginations. It’s part of their gift. And it can become their downfall when reality just never forms up the way it’s been imagined.

I read recently that Buddhists believe expectation is the partner to disappointment. Willingness is the partner to happiness–being willing to accept what unfolds. Here’s hoping Lincoln is willing unfold his secret to pulling off his wildly ambitious blend of art + technology + social action.