Maya Deren on process

“This is another metaphor for this process of creating a structure which conveys, perhaps, something of the situation of the artist. He is very much like that classic figure of animated cartoons who (either in pursuit or being pursued) is running along and, in complete concentration on his purpose – carried along, as it were, by the momentum of the act – runs right off the edge of a cliff without noticing it and continues running in mid-air until, looking down, he becomes aware of his unnatural situation, and in that moment, and because he perceives it as extraordinary and unnatural, is unable to sustain it, and falls.

So the artist, beginning in reality – in that which already exists – starts moving toward a vision, an idea, and, with the cumulative momentum of that dedicated concentration, crosses the threshold from that which already exists into the void where, still moving forward, he creates a plane of earth where his foot as been…

Why does this figure in the cartoon fall if it looks down? Because, as he does so, he takes his measure by what exists without him and without his action; he accepts a limitation and so ceases to transcend it and to create in the image of his vision. For the figure running in mid-air, propelled by the dynamic of the idea, the limitations which he does not recognize do not exist, and so he transcends them and creates new worlds. Concentration is of the essence; keep your eyes fixed on your vision, keep trying, don’t look down.

P.S. WARNING! You’ve got to have a vision to keep your eyes on. Just closing your eyes and stepping off the edge with chin high will add but one more gory mess in the Bohemian abyss.”

— Maya Deren