The Cut Up Technique

The other night, as part of a Goal Setting workout, I led the participants through an exercise in visioning using the old Cut Up technique.

It worked beautifully.

The cut-up portion of the workshop came after an exploration of goals, why they are so important, and how best to express them. Once the ground work was put in place, the shift to creative work could begin.

One of the attendees shared his visual collage with the group and you could sense his energy and excitement. When the group responded with appreciation and applause, I am sure he felt encouraged.

In case you are wondering about this method, here is a brief description:

The Cut Up technique is a creativity exercise that has old roots, going back to the Dada movement in art and poetry of the 1920's, where a poem or a painting would be composed out of clipped words and images.

The idea, as I was adapting it, is to turn the participants loose to create a visual collage around a focal topic. The topic the other night was:

"What is it that you most want to create in your Life?"

A focal topic such as that, one that is open and expansive, is best.

Provide the group with a pile of diverse magazines, a bunch of scissors, a bunch of scotch tape dispensers, and large pieces of paper or poster board.

Describe the exercise simply this way:  Each person is to flip through one or more of the magazines, in a search for text, pictures, colors, or headlines that speak to them relative to the topic. Then each is free to cut them out and tape them to the paper or board where they will compose their visual collage.

The key from a facilitation standpoint is to create an atmosphere of playful exploration and freedom, so that even the most cynical member of the group, when he sees everyone else "going to town" on their cut-ups, will join in.

When you engage in doing a cut-up, you get into a flow state where free associating is let off the leash, where you make connections and synthesize words and images into a whole that speaks volumes about something inside of you in need of full expression.

When it works, it is a creativity exercise that brings out the inner child in a person.

Terrence Seamon guides and supports his clients to envision their desired future. Follow him on twitter @tseamon

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