I’ve just discovered the Oblique Strategies cards, produced by Brian Eno and British painter Peter Schmidt, in four editions — 1975, 1978, and 1979 with a fourth artfully decorated edition in 1996. You can read more about these cards here.
I have compiled the strategies from all four editions and from a few other sources so that you can make them into cards of your own, select them, use them for your own creative practice in art or science:
Abandon normal instruments
A line has two sides
Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)
Always first steps
Always give yourself credit for having more than personality (given by Arto Lindsay)
Are there sections? Consider transitions
Ask people to work against their better judgment
Ask your body
Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group
Back up a few steps. What else could you have done?
Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
Be less critical more often
Breathe more deeply
Bridges -build –burn
Call your mother and ask her what to do
Change instrument roles
Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
Children speaking -singing
Consider different fading systems
Consult other sources -promising -unpromising
Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element
Cut a vital connection
Define an area as ‘safe’ and use it as an anchor
Describe the landscape in which this belongs
Destroy -nothing -the most important thing
Discard an axiom
Disconnect from desire
Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
Do nothing for as long as possible
Don’t be afraid of things because they’re easy to do
Don’t be frightened of cliches
Don’t be frightened to display your talents
Don’t break the silence
Don’t stress one thing more than another
Do something boring
Do the washing up
Do the words need changing?
Do we need holes?
Emphasise the flaws
Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)
Feed the recording back out of the medium
Feedback recordings into an acoustic situation
Fill every beat with something
First work alone, then work in unusual pairs.
From nothing to more than nothing
Gardening, not architecture
Get your neck massaged
Give the game away
Give way to your worst impulse
Go outside. Shut the door.
Go slowly all the way round the outside
Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place
Honor thy error as a hidden intention
How would you explain this to your parents?
How would you have done it?
Humanise something free of error
Idiot glee (?)
Imagine the music as a moving chain or caterpillar
Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events
In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly
Instead of changing the thing, change the world around it.
Intentions -nobility of -humility of -credibility of
Into the impossible
Is it finished?
Is the tuning intonation correct?
Is there something missing?
Is the tuning appropriate?
It is quite possible (after all)
Just carry on
Left channel, right channel, centre channel
List the qualities it has. List those you’d like.
Listen to the quiet voice
Look at a very small object, look at its centre
Look at the order in which you do things
Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them
Lost in useless territory
Lowest common denominator check -single beat -single note -single riff
Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list
Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
Mechanicalise something idiosyncratic
Mute and continue
Not building a wall but making a brick
Once the search is in progress, something will be found
Only a part, not the whole
Only one element of each kind
Overtly resist change
Pay attention to distractions
Put in earplugs
Question the heroic approach
Remember those quiet evenings
Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics
Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities
Remove the middle, extend the edges
Repetition is a form of change
Retrace your steps
Revaluation (a warm feeling)
Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)
Shut the door and listen from outside
Simply a matter of work
State the problem in words as clearly as possible
Steal a solution
Take a break
Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left?
Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance
Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)
The inconsistency principle
The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten
The tape is now the music
Think of the radio
Towards the insignificant
Trust in the you of now
Try faking it (from Stewart Brand).
Turn it upside down
Twist the spine
Use an old idea
Use an unacceptable colour
Use fewer notes
Use ‘unqualified’ people
What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving
What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate
What do you do? Now, what do you do best?
What else is this like?
What is the reality of the situation?
What mistakes did you make last time?
What most recently impressed you? How is it similar? What can you learn from it? What could you take from it?
What were the branch points in the evolution of this entity?
What would make this really successful?
What would your closest friend do?
What wouldn’t you do?
When is it for? Who is it for?
Who would make this really successful?
Work at a different speed
Would anybody want it?
You are an engineer
You can only make one dot at a time
You don’t have to be ashamed of using your own ideas