Exercise: One hundred and one
“101 Uses for a Dead Cat (1981) was a macabre series of cartoons developed by Simon Bond that playfully explored the practical and humorous possibilities of using your dead cat for other things. Develop a similar series of ideas for a piece of paper, a bucket, or any object of your choice. This is an exercise in divergent thinking which aims to get you to broaden your approach to creative problem-solving. You might not get to 101 options, but be as exhaustive as you can.”
This is such a fun brief. I remember my Mum was given a copy of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat years ago and we all loved it. (Though it did make you wince when looking at the innocent faces of our real life family felines, now sadly gone) Its maybe particularly clever as a concept because pets are so precious and this makes his ideas all the more outrageous.
My first thought was to pick something stupid that you definitely would NOT want to re-purpose namely: A Used Toilet Brush. I decided to brainstorm in pictures, here are the results.
You can see a change of pen half way through this page, as I needed to go away and let more ideas surface before coming back to it.
Just when I thought my boot jack idea was original, I had the idea of googling toilet brushes and guess what I found
This little ceramic beauty (!)
At this point I’ve run out of ideas, so I will return soon…
OK. I’m back…
I’m having loads of fun with this – its great, but I don’t think I will get anywhere near 100 ideas! Thankfully as we’ve always been encouraged to show roughs, I don’t feel too embarrassed at the scrappy drawing.
And I’ve reached 40 ideas. Is that enough?? I hope so. As I was scribbling, I could see how I could re-draw some of these images to either clarify what we are looking at (eg. perhaps one ‘snow shoe should be lifted out of the snow, mid stride) Or just that some poses can be more dynamic (why not have the fencing people actually stab the other) As we aren’t required to work up any of these, I’ve left everything as first roughs.
Yes. Bum flosser. That was my partner’s contribution. And he thought I wouldn’t include it, but of course I had to…Sometimes the rough drawing and lack of detail is a blessing.
So. Did I expand my ideas? Or create hybrids?
Hmm. Well I did return to various themes, such as sporting activities. I’m not sure I managed any hybrids, but I tried to think about it as a whole and in its component parts (cutting up the plastic spikes to use as fringing)
Have I solved any problems? Only if you actually need a bum flosser. I think my ‘solutions’ are pretty much all silly, as clearly the brush is not a very good implement for most of the tasks at hand.
New inventions? As above
Re-interpretations of older ideas? I felt I was often re-hashing the joke to to honest – there are even more sporting activities I probably could have gone for now I think of it: hockey, golf, cricket, all an equally poor use of a large brush on a stick.
How did you approach this task and what strategies did you employ to generate new ideas? Well, as I mentioned, I think you need to let ideas develop over time. I’ve done this task over a number of days. Just when you think you’ve hit a wall, more ideas surface. I also had bursts of scribbling, and ‘making’ images come, by the act of doodling. I chatted about my ideas to a few people which helps spark new ones. Meditation, listening to music or having a bath can also help. Getting too ‘left brain’ is best avoided. I’m not sure what else to say about generating ideas, I think its simply a mix of some self discipline and formal ‘doing’, but with breaks. Exploring your own imagination is playful and fun – its important to let that happen with some nudging, but no judgement if possible.
PS Yikes – I’ve just realised I’ve done the same idea twice. I’ve ended up with a pair of ‘vases’. Damn.
Back again. More ideas…It occurred to me that although some ideas are repetitive, its not so bad when you group them under categories: interior design/soft furnishings, fashion, people and pets, hobbies and sports, DIY/chores, work.
Thats 55 now. Hurrah. Not bad. (Or a few more if you count the sports I listed, but didn’t draw) You could of course ‘cheat’ as metal and plastic can be melted down into entirely new objects…but I think thats against the spirit of this exercise.