Great Art Inspires Awe or Self-Loathing

Yesterday I saw this film and it blew me away. It is one of those films that literally takes your breath away. When I shared it on Twitter and Facebook yesterday, I commented that a video like this either makes you say “Screw it, I’ll never be that good.” Or it inspires you to reach higher and do better. Filmmaker and photographer Chris Croy had a comment on my Facebook post that I robbed for this title:

Great art inspires awe or self loathing. One or the other!

How true.

The video is “Dubai Flow Motion” by U.K. timelapse filmmaker Rob Whitworth. This was the first video of his I’ve come across, but it’s obvious he’s already had a fan base (whenever I see Vimeo comments like “You’ve done it again!” I feel like I’ve just stumbled upon a party that’s been raging since midnight.) He already has at least a half-dozen or so Vimeo staff picks from what I see. Each one a different city and similar in style. What I love about these “flow motion” timelapse videos he does is that he’s taken what is already a very popular art form and evolved it into something of his own. He’s put his signature spin on the genre. That’s the hallmark of any great filmmaker.

So, does Rob’s work piss you off and make you want to throw in the towel? Or get up off your butt and make your own signature?

If your answer to that question is the former, I have a message for you. If you really are passionate about this, or any craft, take that anger and self-loathing, and turn it into something useful. Remember, believe it or not, YOU are a “Rob Whitworth” to someone out there. In fact, I would hazzard to guess there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who would see your work and it would inspire awe or self-loathing in them.

We all tend to think “the other guy” is so much better. We all have a “Rob Whitworth” in our lives. Someone whose work or success gnaws at you with every Facebook like and every 10,000 views. A photographer who gets called up to the WPPI awards banquet podium 6, 7, 10 times. A musician whose SoundCloud songs look like DNA patterns from all the comments and likes on them. For some of you, the actual Rob Whitworth is your “Rob Whitworth.”

But let me remind you that “comparison kills creativity.” When you constantly compare yourself and your work to others, to the point where you want to throw in the towel, you’re doing yourself, and perhaps the world, a disservice.

May the work of people like Rob inspire awe in you. May you take heed of your strengths and revel in the knowledge that you are a “Rob Whitworth” to so many people. But even if you’re just a “Rob Whitworth” to you and your closest loved ones, may you find peace in the knowledge that that is all that really matters.

5 thoughts on “Great Art Inspires Awe or Self-Loathing

  1. So true Ron. I think all creatives struggle with this at times. When we run into great work it is so easy to self loathe or become apathetic toward our craft. It is at that time when we should punch through and find our own path. We have to focus on looking at our shortcomings not as failures but building blocks to success, to enjoy and embrace the process.

      1. I really just try to stay positive and understand that even the best creatives have sub par work. I find that taking the best qualities from others works and improving through refinement helps. I love that you do personal projects, because this is also a way to not only get out of a rut but hone a particular skill. I think so many of us also worry about being left behind as far as technology rather than focusing on basic story telling skills.

  2. Great message Ron. People can sit down and sulk all they want when they see great work of others. But they need to remind themselves that the person they admire too had to overcome the self doubt and struggles. The Simpsons touched on that theme when Homer was inspired by Edison then when he lost faith in himself of never reaching his idol, he finds out that Edison was inspired by Da Vinci.

    On another note, Rob’s film is beautiful and different but it gave me a headache with all the panning around and just a tad too surreal to me. Or maybe my brain’s just trying to catch up…

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