Ok, yes, we make software. Awesome, beautifully designed software. That doesn’t mean we’re just developers, living in basements, cultivating impressive neckbeards, hacking at FreeBSD over the weekends. Nor are we just designers, painstakingly arranging the MacBooks, flat whites and Linotype catalogues on our desks into the perfect Instagram stories. Look, that’s definitely a rad part of who we are, and we won’t pretend it’s not, but we also try to be a little bit more awesome than that.
So some Fridays, we’ll have a so-called Bunny Beer Wisdom. This means we find someone who is really awesome at something that we might not be super awesome at ourselves — yet, anyway — to come and talk to us about it. What is it? It could be anything. In the past we have had talks about psychotropic drugs, personal safety, starting a band, and making smart long-term financial decisions. Some of it makes us better at being adults, and some of it makes us better at being humans. All of it makes us better rabbits. We love it.
This Friday, we had the amazing Dr Runette Kruger come to us with her very passionate speciality: the art of Piet Mondrian. Now, most of us can identify a Van Gogh or a Dali on sight. We may not all have been able to put a name to it, but we’ve seen a couple of Mondrian’s paintings before, in our travels, even if some of us secretly thought it looked like bad tiling. We’re not total plebs, is what we’re getting at. Still, we were not fully prepared for the sheer depth of insight we were about to receive into the work and life of this Dutch neoplasticist.
Just like how not all code can be self-documenting, not all art is self-explanatory. So when Runette mentioned that, aside from being the groundbreaking artist that he was, Mondrian was also a super meticulous theorist, we had a feeling we were going to like him. And what do you know, by the end of it, we couldn’t look at those flat primary-coloured blocks without having a minor spiritual experience.
See, Mondrian was all about Plato, who had this idea about how the world works. For the uninitiated, it goes something like this: I have a laptop. You have a laptop. Our laptops are not the same, but we know for sure that both are laptops. How? Well, according to Plato, there exists an abstract, perfect idea of a laptop, and each of ours is just a material incarnation of that laptop. Ok, so he used trees to explain the concept, but you get the gist. Now, at this point, we had only a beer or two between full-on coding mode and this stuff, so our minds instantly went to object-oriented programming. Could it be that what Plato calls a form, we call a class? Is his material the same as our object?
As Runette continued, more of these popped into our minds. Mondrian was also all about Hegel, and Hegel was all about reaching the ideal, the absolute, the truth, dammit, through a tedious process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Each step in this process is about refinement and improvement. We suppose calling agile development Hegel-esque might be a stretch, but we mentioned the beers we had, right?
In the end, what we took home about Piet himself was that he hated chaos. His life’s work was managing chaos. He presented us with a picture of the world that is as pure, as untouched by the ugly details of reality as possible. We don’t shy away from the details so much, but we truly admire the guy for it.
Managing chaos is really difficult; we know because we are in the business. And isn’t it astounding how many of the same tools we use? We never thought abstraction could be so powerful outside of our little industry, and here find out we didn’t even invent it. Mondrian reduced the complex world around him to two dimensions and five colours; we reduce though-vector dimensionality into pretty graphics. He even had a thing for lines. Lines. Come on.
As always, we went home slightly more awesome than we were when we came in. No matter what the next Bunny Beer Wisdom will be about, we know it’ll be great, and we can’t wait.