Who translates your ideas?

“Metaphor is the currency of knowledge. I have spent my life learning incredible amounts of disparate, disconnected, obscure, useless pieces of knowledge, and they have turned out to be, almost all of them, extremely useful. Why. Because there is no such thing as disconnected facts. There is only complex structure. And both to explain complex structure to others and, perhaps more important - this is forgotten, usually - to understand them oneself, one needs better metaphors. If I was able to understand this, it was because my chaotic accrual of information simply gave me better metaphors than anyone else.

My father always said if you translate a proverb from one language into another, you pass for a poet. The same can be said for science. Work strictly within one area, and it’s diminishing returns, hard to make progress. But translate a concept from its field for use where it is unknown, and it is always fresh and powerful. In buying outside, you are doing intellectual arbitrage. The rate limiting step in this is your willingness to continuously translate, to force strange languages to be yours, to live in between, to be everywhere and nowhere.”

Luca Turin via Chandler Burr in “The Emperor of Scent.” 

Last year my friend Gordon and I decided to get together, catch up and attend the Mind 08 Symposium, a day of presentations around MoMA’s “Design and the Elastic Mind” hosted by SEED magazine and moderated by the brilliant Paola Antonelli. Amongst the talks about design and science there is a presentation by Chandler Burr on olfaction. With no visual aids, no laptop, no powerpoint, and only reading from the books he is carrying, Burr manages to convey the complexity of smell in elegant witty language. He is charismatic, knowledgeable, a great presenter. His talk comes to an end quickly, time flies. This gets filed in my head.

More than a year later I am finally reading Burr’s books. I get to “The Emperor of Scent,” and there I run into the two paragraphs above. 

It is as if I am looking at a mirror, there in words, I am defined. I am utterly surprised. Such simple thoughts clearly stating what I’ve been doing my whole life. I am a deeply curious generalist searching for the next bit of interesting information, bits of data stuck in my head, prepared to become an expert at a moments notice. Surrounded by interesting and interested people. Artists, artisans and technicians that allow me to annoy them with questions and welcome my suggestions, my unexpected juxtapositions. Always ready to get things done, because, above all, I too want to see the end result.

I am a thought hunter, sharer and producer. I am a meticulously organized OCDoer. I am an efficient catalyst. I am an idea translator.

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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