Screensart: An Intimate Glimpse into the Creative Mind

By Shlomo  Maital


 Dana Ruttenberg


Despite many volumes and articles on the creative process – how people come up with wonderful ideas – it remains largely a mystery.   That is why it is so keenly interesting when an articulate innovator describes the precise way a great idea was born and implemented.

    Dana Ruttenberg is an Israeli dancer and choreographer.  She and Oren Shkedy have created “Screensart – The art arena for digital screens: photography, paintings, videodance and videoart for your public digital screen.”    See

   Here is Dana’s idea and in her own words, how she came up with it and made it happen.

  1.  The “Trigger”:     “… the initial idea was actually my father’s (Arie Ruttenberg, founder of Kesher-Barel, a leading ad agency acquired by McCann Erickson, and Club 50).  . He was concerned with the  dissonance between how long and how much effort goes into creating a dance piece, and the resulting exposure available to it in terms of it existing only in the present, not available for proper duplication (a video recording of a dance performance never ever does justice to the live experience of it), it needing a stage, lighting, the presence of the cast and crew etc. etc….

 2.  The “Resource Base”:  Parallel to that he noticed the abundance of screens everywhere that had nothing interesting to fill them up. Banks and post offices were just then putting up screens to promote their business, and were limited to the soundless showcase of images, so that meant either subtitled news/ads, aquarium shots or ski shots.

 3. The Background:  My  earlier [dance] piece, NABA,  showcased silent [dance], with [each member of] the audience actually choosing the soundtrack on earphones connected to audio guides.   My father thus knew that dance does not require sound.  That was the first spark.

4. The opposition:  It  came from the idea, placing dance on screens,  being something that has never been done before. Although the idea of artwork being created for, and presented in public spaces, is as old as time, re-opening minds to this idea onceagain, and deeming it worthy for investment, was something businesses  were not yet ready for.  There is a misconception in Israel, which now is being contested by the “people”, that the “people” are, for a lack of a better word, dumb, not curious, and uninterested.  Recent social protests  have proved just the opposite.

   Man is as evolved as the challenges that come his way. When those challenges were hunting an animal down and cooking it for dinner – we learned how to do that and mastered it.  When we needed to calculate the square root of a number – we mastered that too, but forgot how to hunt when that wasn’t needed anymore. People might have forgotten how to FACE art, because they haven’t been faced with it. Put it in their path, and they WILL know what to do with it.  Some resistence is natural — the same resistence I might experience upon opening an algebra book now. But that doesn’t mean anything about my future capabilities of appreciating (even if not being able to “solve” or “create”) the beauty of math. Art, and especially dance, is not meant for the elite. If anything, it does not require words, vocabulary…it goes straight to the gut. I truly believe in that.

 5. Persistence:  When I think of persisting [with our idea] for two years, I think of 365 days x 2 x 24 hours of pushing, maintaining, considering, remembering….but, that is NOT the case.  It is important not to disappoint either oneself or the other (partner).  Persisting means having more burners besides the front or even back ones,  on which you can slow-cook. You forget about it, come back to it, try something else, want to throw it away, fall back in love with it and “save” it. Keeping it at arm’s length is what makes it alive.   And having your collaborator to talk to about it, really helps.

6.  Self-awareness:  The thing I lack most of all is patience. But I know see the power of it.  I intend to work on it, I am not yet very successful, because of my childish nature (which is wired to the artistic-creative side), but in my mind (that of the more mature, grownup self), I know that time makes things happen. Keep your ideas in the drawer.  Take them out from time to time. Put them back. Take them out again. …. 

  Thanks Dana!  I invite readers to visit Screensart and experience your dance videos for themselves.   Thanks for sharing your personal creative process.