“An artist lives always in the imagination, so the barrier between the sensory reality and his imagination is very vague.” 

Federico Fellini

What is creativity? Where does it come from? What is its relationship to the imagination? Where does it go when you can’t find it? And how can you bring it back?

We tend to talk a lot about the power of immersion these days, especially at space.camp where we’ve had the privilege of working in the VR space with our friends at Oculus and in the AR space with Pokémon GO. Oculus and Pokémon GO both saw explosive growth in the pandemic, as people marooned in their homes sought new ways to enhance, transcend, and inspire their realities.

In our new post-COVID reality, the “O.G.” immersive experience—reading books—was thankfully always within reach, but other pre-digital paths to immersion like concerts, museums, travel and clubbing were suddenly off the table. And if you are anything like me, the pandemic saw you replace all of those with more and more of the increasingly compelling yet utterly un-interactive pastime of streaming content.

Many of us fell into the rut of seeking inspiration from our 2D screens, feasting like vampires on neverending streams of high-quality must-see content gushing forward (why yes I did recently binge Midnight Mass, why do you ask?). But for those of us on the creative side of agency life, it narrowed in our source of inspiration as memories of our former extracurricular activities began to fade.

Combine that with the relentless grind of shorter deadlines, longer Zooms, and extended bouts of isolation away from the whiteboards and war rooms and coffee walks that used to fuel our creative collaborations, and it’s no surprise that many creatives have been feeling more burned out and less inspired than ever.

“Come with me and you’ll be

in a world of pure imagination

Take a look and you’ll see

into your imagination.”

Willy Wonka

I’m sure I’m not the only creative who felt like the rabbit would always be in the hat when I reached in. That no matter how many times I lowered the bucket into the well that it would come back sloshing with fresh ideas.

Even the deepest wells run dry if they aren’t replenished. And this is a tale of a happenstance creative restocking that I hope will inspire you to step out from behind the screen and consciously seek out a fresh dose of immersion to refill, refuel and recalibrate.

The day before I was going to board a plane (for the first time since ‘19!) to visit my brother in Denver, I overheard a co-worker at an offsite mention that Meow Wolf had recently opened a new installation in Denver. A few years back I’d streamed Meow Wolf: Origin Story and really dug it, but otherwise hadn’t really spent much time thinking about them. 

So after my brother picked me up I got us two tix to their new exhibit Convergence Station, that aside from its trippy trailer I knew nothing about. Soon we were inside, where a costumed tour guide took us into the elevator and told us that we’d all already been here before, we just didn’t remember it. The elevator door opened and we emerged in a massive futuristic city street scene, not unlike a cross between Blade Runner, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and the Mars of Verhoeven’s Total Recall. From here, we were free to wander from this ecosystem through dozens of other loosely connected worlds, interactive exhibits, hidden rooms, and towering structural installations. 

I will fight my instincts to try and describe the experience in any detail because that would ruin the fun. Zooming out, I saw all of the creative artistry, world-building, deep lore, intoxicating sound design and gobsmacking immersion that we as creatives and storytellers dream of.

I could literally feel my spirits lifting, my optimism returning, my well-being replenished. If I hadn’t overheard someone in Pasadena mentioning the new Meow Wolf in Denver, none of this would have happened. 

Don’t be like me and wait for a happy accident to jolt you out of your waking stream dream. Seek out immersion wherever you are. And revel in it. It will reward you tenfold.