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David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt

Everything Is a Remix

October 1, 2018
By Allison Johnson, Blog Editor 

Dr. David Eagleman speaks at Evans auditorium.

Dr. David Eagleman, neuroscientist, breaks down the steps to bending.

Dr. Anthony Brandt speaking at Evans auditorium.

Dr. Anthony Brandt, composer, gives insight on blending ideas.

As you become more intrigued in your studies and feel inspired to contribute new ideas to your career, you might realize that “everything is a remix.” On September 24, Dr. David Eagleman and Dr. Anthony Brandt, authors of The Runaway Species, spoke at Texas State University as part of the Common Experience Insight Series. David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt are from two different backgrounds of study. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, and Anthony Brandt a composer, came together to discuss the many ways our brain process creativity to produce new things. Eagleman and Brandt described the process of innovation in three ways: bending, breaking and blending.

The example Eagleman and Brandt used for bending was to take a prototype and fashion it. His example was the artificial heart. Engineers are able to know the nitpickiness of the nature of a heart to create something similar. There’s plenty of things that have been invented that substitute much needed tasks that may be involuntary. Another form of bending we may be familiar with are caricatures.

One of my favorite shows, South Park, has been perfecting the caricature for a while. The creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are known for their parody style. Often, their storyline mimics what’s going on in the world. From topics such as immigration and religion, each story is inspired by real issues. Since each episode is made days before air, they are timely and on point with detail. Usually the only time we see entertainment timely is when we read or watch television news. Now, we have fiction television, with a taste of real news.

They are beating many writers and directors to creating an illustration of the zeitgeist of today. Yes, there will be TV shows, and movies that will model their story after the timeline of the current climate or administration, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker are able to do it on a weekly basis for months.

The next key component is breaking. Think about “breaking good.” Eagleman and Brandt think it’s good to take what’s working but substitute it to new standards. For example, the Blackberry. We loved the QWERTY keypad on our phones back in 2007. But as the market began changing with touchscreen phones, we leaned toward a touch keyboard. User experience played a huge role in this. As we began using phones for social media, we realized how much easier it was to swipe across and down our phones with our fingers, versus pressing a button over, and over again.

The next form is blending. As someone studying media, I often wonder why the greats such as Quentin Tarantino or George Lucas can emulate things and not be ridiculed for it. I do think they are highly revered in the film industry, but I also do think it takes a lot of vision to be able to recreate, without 100% emulating something. This is where blending takes place. Think art.

Whether it’s forming a sphinx or a minotaur, there are many ways you can blend art. For example, think about makeup. You might use three different colors on your eyelids. You’ve seen how these colors look on another person and want to pull off the makeup look. Although, you do have your own unique facial structure. This will keep you from replicating it completely. Another thing is you might use a different brush to blend, or just completely have a different method.

Regardless of what turf we’re creating for, we’re all creators living in the same world with very similar experiences. We may have the same ideas, but different ways of obtaining them. Eagleman and Brandt would say it should be a goal to come up with as many as solutions as possible. As you’re brainstorming ideas for your next creation, be fearless in the face of error.