As apart of the Creativity: Theory, history and Practice Unit, we were required to work on a creative project that explores themes and ideas that we have learnt throughout the unit. The project was open to free choice but preferably focused on our chosen creative disciplines.
My first idea for this creative project was to work on the idea of space and environment and how I can manipulate it to see what creative response will be and create a series of drawings or paintings that reflect this idea.
A quote inspired me by Csikszentmihalyi. M saying ,
‘… openness to experience, a fluid attention that constantly process events in the environment, is a great advantage for recognising potential novelty.’
For myself, complete openness to new experiences and changing environments are what my creative self thrives on. So for a challenge I didn’t want to use myself as the subject but to use others. My curiosity was to understand how other creative personalities work. Does everyone respond creatively to different spaces the way I do?
This project then evolved to mostly being about the process of discovery. Discovering how other individuals respond to contextualized spaces/ environments in creative ways.
I based most of this project around R.A Woodman and L.A. Schoenfeldt’s Interactionist Model of Creative Behaviour. This was first learnt about in week three, topics based around Creative Theories and The Personal creative Process.
It’s a research theory focusing on aspects of the persons feature of environment and their reciprocal influences.
Woodman and Schoenfledt (1990) said, ” the value of the interactionist perspective is… to see how various components. elements, and forces come together to result in the behaviour of interest, in this case, creativity.” (pg. 70)
The structure of this model I followed was
A- P- CI- B- C,
A= Antecedent condition (beginning a Hypothetical proposition) Facing the subject with a problem, how will they respond.
P= Personality, what type of personality do they have? Are they young old
CI= Contextual influences, or do they have different backgrounds, beliefs.
B= Creative behaviour, How does their creative behaviour when instructed respond to the space/ environment, how did they react, and what were there feelings?
C= consequences, what if i was to publically display these responses, does it spark creative ideas in other people’s minds.
This project was also a play on Context. What are the artist intentions beliefs and background, what is the intention of the art ( in this case the space) and how does the viewer respond, the consequence.
My way of understanding this was to create an exercise with people where I placed them in unusual environments and pose them with questions and simple activities. These spaces are not considered to be the usual creative work areas. For instance a small white closet, a bathroom, at the dining table, at the beach and on the floor in the middle of a house.
According to Freud , our creative environment is essential, and should be a reflection of ourselves. But what if it’s not? Can we still be creative?
I first took the opportunity to explore this and the exercise at a dinner party I was invited to. I previously did not know eight out of ten people and was unfamiliar with the environment. The questions posed where,
Do you consider yourself creative?
How do you express yourself creatively?
Where do you usually create?
Do you feel creative in this space?
What creatively inspires you in this space?
Draw or write, how you would change this space to make it more comfortable to create in.
So to my surprise the behaviour response provided me greater understanding of many other studies of creativity talked about in the unit. This included the Individuation Process and Therapy based creativity.
The majority of the group approached the activity in a child like manner which is a creative process that Freud would agree on. He argued that a childlike regression can help us active our imagination.
To my surprise it also activated an unconscious response in another participant. After producing an original response to the activity in lead pencil only, the participant then moved onto colour on other available pieces of paper. Solid patches of the colour red were vigorously applied while other encouraged her on. The same thing continued while another participant decided that group drawing would be a nice idea. The vigorous applying of colour continued until the participant become extremely frustrated and had to talk a walk.
This response was a great example of C J Jung’s explanation on Confrontation with the unconscious. He suggested that symbolic play can lead you to repressed emotions. This is considered to be a form of therapeutic method of creativity. The simple action of ‘colouring in’ bought about polarized energies into a common channel.
Not only this response come about, but also a collective conscious. With so many people consuming the environment everyone starting feeding of each other creatively.
‘Creative activity takes place between the conscious and the unconscious that is in the Preconscious. preconscious can engage in free play with ideas, meanings and relationship, thereby producing new and unexpected connections’ ( lawrence Kubie, 1958)
My next attempt with the same activity was to mix the variables. This included different ages of participants and different spaces. The response again changed dramatically. Same responses with an older age group should a more literal reaction to the space and how creativity can be integrated into everyday mundane activities like cleaning. You can still creatively problem solve and show determination and understanding in the domain. Some responses were lacking in imagination, but yet simply embracing the simplicity of the space and everything in it. Maybe that’s just the first stages of acquiring knowledge for creative purposes?
One older male response was shocking for himself. He considered himself to be very creative, but then when faced with a bathroom tap, he lost almost all hope of coming up with an idea and then decided he wasn’t creative.
Each and every person responded in unique ways. For me this project was about getting to understand that individuals can see the same space but respond in many different ways creatively. This become a form of creative therapy for myself, realising that I can help other people get to know themselves creatively through trigger questions and exercises.
For the last approach to the activity I wanted the public to have an insight into what I’ve learnt not just about my project but a look into creativity and how it works. The best place to make people view this was to collectively place each work in a public toilet cubicle. A forced viewing space. The process and cycle of creativity and the project then become complete.
So this project was a deep insight into contextual theories, creative personalities, I creative behaviours and flow. All documented with modern technology of cameras and creative software that i am so unfamiliar with but understand is appart of any modern creative process.
Although my creative project doesn’t have a strong ending and wouldn’t be considered great art, for me the project was about processes and personalities and this purely reflected the learnings of the creativity unit. Creativity isn’t always about how amazing the result is but more about how to you got from no idea to an idea. This will continue to help me think in many different ways when approaching work in my domain of visual arts.
Jung, C. (1997). Jung on active imagination (pp. 1-17, 28-33). (Ed. Joan Chodorow). London: Routledge.