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Tribute to Oblique Strategies

Updated: May 19, 2021

On May 15th, join a 12-hour livestreamed jam to celebrate Brian Eno's birthday

To celebrate Brian Eno’s birthday on Saturday, May 15th, Endlesss will livestream a 12-hour “Tribute to Oblique Strategies” jam featuring members of the global Endlesss community and special guests.

From 12 noon BST through midnight BST, a 100% improvised, real-time jam will stream on the Endlesss Twitch. Every 20 minutes or so, a prompt from various editions of Oblique Strategies will be introduced to guide, divert or expand the jam’s direction, in accordance with the original principles of Oblique Strategies first conceptualized by artist Peter Schmidt and Eno in 1975.

This tribute celebrates the vast inspiration Eno’s art and philosophies have provided to generations of musicians and artists across mediums, while highlighting the potential of spontaneous, collaborative creativity. At Endlesss, we believe that music is something we make together, and so have been duly inspired by Eno’s ideal of “scenius” - his term for the communal form of the concept of genius – that emphasizes an ecosystem of mutually supportive creativity over an individual “egosystem.”

Re-live the full jam on Youtube

What are Oblique Strategies?

Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975, in their most basic form Oblique Strategies are a deck of cards meant to promote creativity. Subtitled "Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas," the first edition contains various explicit, vague, metaphorical and concrete instructions, constraints and directives to serve as tools for idea generation and the confrontation of creative blocks. The very first card was "Honor thy error as a hidden intention."

In a 1980 radio interview with Charles Amirkhanian on KPFA-FM radio in Berkeley, Eno described the concept more in-depth:

"The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results. Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt this attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt that attitude."

For more details on Oblique Strategies, and to browse a list of cards from across various editions, we recommend Gregory Taylor's comprehensive online resource.



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