Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared!

What's creative? Well, before you can have a creative concept you must think, brainstorm, fire up the engine, or stare at a blank wall until the muse suddenly appears to you.  This is something that Joseph Pelling and Becky Sloan, a London based pair of artists, have become masters at: thinking-- creatively!  "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared", a multi-video series created by the two artists as been viewed around the world millions upon millions of times.

Set in what seems to be a child's fantasy world with felt upholstery and a cookie-cutter kitchen, the first video in the series at first appears to be right out of Blue's Clues.  Three life sized puppets sit around the table and discuss with their notebook friend what it means to be creative and most importantly: a tutorial on how to think creatively.  As I first watch I think it's a cute scene that I'd show my three year old brother but then I remember that most good things must come to an end.  The innocent scenario gets a small touch of the bizarre and I would even stretch to say a little bit witchcraft and the devil.  Too far? Well I for one have never seen a human heart start to be covered in glitter for an art project.

Why is it creative though? I'll tell you, because its entire existence is a paradox.  Pelling and Sloan say that the meaning behind the videos is a "how not to guide" and in this case how not make a creative tutorial on how to be creative.  Wow, that is a mouthful.  To boil it down: they made a video doing exactly what they said not to do, which in my opinion, is genius.  The pair of artists say they want fans of the video and series to take what ever they get from the video as the real message and it would be an understatement to say that there have been a few crazy theories.  The entire video is a breeding ground the the cultists and the creative thinkers to accumulate.  Fans have suggested that the video has ties to the early 1900's Russian Revolution all the way to commentary on the modern day artists in our society.  There may never be one true meaning but that won't stop fans from trying to find one.

All I can currently think of is divergent thinking.  How many different possibilities and scenarios can be associated with the video when perhaps there is nothing to associate at all?  The video itself.  Looking at ordinary objects like felt or a notebook and saying, "Wow. I really think this could be used to create a trippy how to guide about creative thinking." No one, and I mean no one, thinks this way.  I tip my hat or what ever other expressions apply to Sloan and Pelling.  These two are ones to watch and their videos definitely are as well.


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  1. What started out as a child-like video quickly turned very creepy. The glitter heart, organ cake, and the thing that crawled into the mouse-hole were all disturbing. Not to mention, the fact that one of the cartoon characters spelled out the word death. I would be interested in reading some of the theories surrounding this video because I have been left dumbstruck by it. Is all of the artists other work as bizarre?

  2. I am interested in learning more about the theories surrounding this video. This is my second time watching it and I never really thought the creators made it with any hidden message. I have seen other videos that mix lighthearted music with disturbing lyrics or visuals and I wonder if they all have some hidden message to interpret.

  3. The concept of making a statement through a paradox has always been an interesting one to me. It can be roped in with the psychology behind why kids will act upon what they are told NOT to do moreso than what they are told TO do. Rebellion is somewhat of a human tendency (more prevalent in some more than others). In this instance, the "how not-to" guide is probably more memorable than any "how-to" guide would be.


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