I just came across this word and musician Brian Eno’s definition of it from 1996:
“Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.” I’m a bit late to this party, he talked about it a while ago, but I love the thought – that ideas can be born from groups, places and ‘scenes’ rather than individuals. There’s often an idea that a so-called creative person can be a bit maverick, hard to manage, kicking against norms, chewing over the creative cud after hours or days of conscious and unconscious thought and having that aha! moment. The scenius notion is much more supportive and generous than that.
Eno said “I was an art student and, like all art students, I was encouraged to believe that there were a few great figures like Picasso and Kandinsky, Rembrandt and Giotto and so on who sort-of appeared out of nowhere and produced artistic revolution. As I looked at art more and more, I discovered that that wasn’t really a true picture. What really happened was that there was sometimes very fertile scenes involving lots and lots of people – some of them artists, some of them collectors, some of them curators, thinkers, theorists, people who were fashionable and knew what the hip things were – all sorts of people who created a kind of ecology of talent. And out of that ecology arose some wonderful work.”
What he’s talking about is culture – how do you create a fertile ecology where ideas can flourish?
Scenius can also be seen trends, little pockets of the seemingly unconnected becoming a network that tips over into the mainstream. Futurist Faith Popcorn wrote about this a few years ago too in her brilliant book The Popcorn Report where she calls it ‘cultural brailling’.
If scenius is all about group creativity then what can we do to promote it? Eno seems to be to be talking about diversity of thought, much like the idea of a salon (from the French meaning room) where intellectuals, artists and politicians met to discuss and debate cultural issues. Diversity is a key factor in creativity, cited in much of the academic literature. So whilst we may be tempted to hire people who think like us, who ‘get’ us, who we think will fit in, maybe we should be looking for a little ‘creative abrasion’ or dissent amongst the ranks occasionally.
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Written by Claire Bridges, Founder Now Go Create. Link up with Claire on Google+