Artists are driven by a Motor — the Motor is what actually prompts them to create. It emerges prior to the creative process as such and stems from the artist’s deep-seated convictions. It is never called into question.
We can draw a parallel here with certain theories in the field of cognitive psychology. Artists maintain the same Motor throughout their life although they may appear to shift between Motors in the early stages of their career.
The Motor is the underlying priority need the artist is trying to satisfy. An artist’s Motor is characterized by one of the following fundamental needs:
- Understanding: artists belonging to this group are primarily driven by a need to understand and are mainly interested in themes tied to perception or the “system” (society and its codes, politics);
- Doing: artists belonging to this group are primarily driven by a need to shape or construct an alternative “reality”. They alter or create a reality mainly through narration and play;
- Experiencing: artists belonging to this group are primarily driven by a need to experience or feel and are mainly interested in themes pertaining to the body and personal identity.
Each fundamental need is broken down into three successive aggregation levels, ultimately providing a list of twenty-four different Motors.
The chart presenting the four levels is the Motor chart. Each column presents a different aggregation level, going from the most fundamental, on the left (one of the three priority needs), to the most specific, on the right (the Motor itself).
Each of the twenty-four Motors (numbered from 1 to 24 to simplify their referencing) is given both a brief definition (sentences in bold font, reiterating the terms of the four aggregation levels) and an expanded definition. What becomes apparent is that the Motor notion not only encapsulates what drives an artist’s quest but also the way they pursue it, i.e., their angle of attack.