Can the Metaverse Save Creativity?

Credit: Getty Images

There Is No “Instant”

When you’re trying to create something beautiful or work that will change people’s perceptions, there is no instant reward. I’ve learned that creativity takes unwavering faith, a sense of wonder, and focused patience. It also takes a modicum of ego and of course, a sprinkling of insanity to make things as an artist that will blow people’s minds. I’m a multidisciplinary creator who ran my own studio for eleven years and am currently the A.I. Director at Seyhan Lee. I know there is no instant return on the creative process. You have to endure pain, frustration, and crisis in order to innovate. Suffering the slings and arrows of a theory gone awry in execution takes a warrior mentality.

Dopamine Dependent Disease

Are you a writer or a painter crippled with self-doubt? A digital creator depleted of ideas? It might be because you’ve already become addled to the dopamine-degenerating algorithms of web 2.0 and their effect on your physiology. When the artist shifts her/his focus from “posting for likes” to authentic inquiry, then the quality of artistic work returns to the authenticity of an interior experience, one away from external shallowness. This can only get trickier as the metaverse expands. Fully immersive, optic, haptic, and auditory senses will extend graphic and world-building possibilities so that what we currently refer to as the “real” world will come to include the unreal, sub-real, non-real, hyper-real, surreal, and real+, and…it will all be “real.” So, we’ll have to become sensory masters to maintain sovereignty over our value in illusory space.

Great Things Happen When You Let Them

When I was younger, I could be the most irascible person you’d ever met. If astrology is to be consulted, then Aries, my sign, is known as the most impatient one of the Zodiac. When it comes to motivation, ego, communication, impulse, and even love — they are all ruled by Aries in my case. Basically, you couldn’t win an impatience contest versus me. As an artist, I constantly strove to shorten the time it took to finish a creative project. Why the haste? Because for the past ten years, web 2.0 influenced what I valued: the instant gratification of other people validating me. You could say it was the Aries in me, but I pathologically needed a social media response like a painkiller, and it was every bit as addicting as an opioid. I needed some sort of psychic rehab so I decided to work with a Turkish spiritual teacher based in Istanbul.

Paradise Lost

In Gary Lachman’s book, Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas, about the Swedish theologian, scientific and mystic, I learned that Swedenborg defined paradise not as an Eden of idyll but as a place of work. It’s not a place of cherubs strumming harps (yawn) but rather a state where everyone has a “use” connected to aspiration for higher organization, deeper self-consciousness, and truer self-understanding. These days, most of our “use” is applied to taking augmented selfies and the nanosecond market fluctuations of NFT doodles. Most of us are not being very “useful” as Swedenborg would have us. But I’m remaining optimistic. Web3 has the potential to facilitate conscious self-inquiry for a better world and I hope that’s its dominant direction rather than further entanglement with a constant stream of action-reaction currently keeping us as far from paradise as possible.

Don’t Get Ill On Illusion

Keep it real, really. As lines blur between virtual and IRL, we must master our senses to be more attuned to creating a metaverse of opportunities that connect us to solve global problems and move strides forward. Don’t get me wrong. I kind of love the idea of spending “reality” at the Costa Rican seaside in my VR goggles but when all is said and done, I think I still rather just be feeling the sun on my skin in actual Costa Rica. Doesn’t hurt to virtually farm some blockchain product from the laptop using a cool NFT avatar from the cabana though. The key is just to keep our minds hip to the difference between escape and escapism.

Creators Create Value

I am not an economist but I completely understand the true value of our species. We make things; to make things better, faster, stronger, and safer. We create solutions that change destinies and save lives. To become the futurist society of our most hopeful sci-fi narratives, we need to do away with the human-limiting dangers of instant and constant. So can the Metaverse save creativity? No. Waiting for a savior outside of ourselves is the grandest of all illusions. Instead, we must refocus on nurturing our creativity to reject false mirrors of gratification and embrace the elation of the authentic human experience.

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Pinar Seyhan Demirdag

Pinar Seyhan Demirdag

AI director, co-founder of Seyhan Lee. I write about provocative innovative intelligence and the confluence of science and spirit.