Can the creativity of an image be assessed without knowledge of the image’s context?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by leslie_reid, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. No. It's the discovery of a new space. It's a surprise, even a shock. You don't/can't 'know' that it's there before you get there. And whatever is there is not optional the way a state of mind is optional.

    When you're 'getting there' you can't know if it's creativity (you're not there yet; there may be no there there).
    naffy likes this.
  2. BTW, I should add, (IMO) this image can be deemed creative without the knowledge of the context, although I am referring to the popular definition of creativity, not Julie's definition.
  3. Lets put it in another way, a belief can be either right or wrong, but the believer doesn't care. Of course beliefs can be refuted or corroborated with evidences and logical arguments.
    There are things that can be measured with a meter, for other things there are indirect ways of measuring. No matter how ridiculous it may sound, to measure the degree of creativity in a photo, I can round up a bunch of people who are known in the profession and ask them whether the photo is creative or not. Based on how many people say yes, there's your metric. But of course you will reject that completely because of your inherent belief that creativity is something that cannot be quantified. If you think thats personal attack, I can tell you, questioning one's belief is not disrespect. Ignoring someone's opinion is. I will be happy if my beliefs are challenged and questioned rather than laughed off and ignored. Questioning and challenging each other's beliefs and listening with a open mind is what has advanced the human race. If there is a belief that I don't want to be challenged, the only way of not hurting my feelings is not to state it in an open forum. Just my two cents...

  4. [I seem to consistently upload a post immediately after one of yours, Supriyo, so please forgive me that my comments here don't incorporate the new post; and BTW thanks very very much for the tip on how to get paragraph breaks] <br><br>
    Supriyo - I find both of your photos creative, and I’m still smiling over the second—it hit me with the “I never would have thought of that!” sensation—I would have been carefully waiting for the figure to hit the midpoint between letters. The first image I’m intrigued by because it brings up the issue of abstract images—it seems like the creativity there is often centered on the seeing of the potential for a composition in an unlikely place, and in figuring out how to pull it off in a way that makes the potential real (and the ring light is magical here). I keep struggling with the question of whether abstract images are necessarily creative due to their complete dependence on the artist’s imaginative vision to even see their potential…but then, the second image fits that description, too. Both are images I’ve never seen anything like before, and that undoubtedly also feeds into my impression of their creativity. <br><br>

    Steve - That’s a stunning pair of portraits, and again, I’ve never seen anything like it before. This, too, is a photo I’d instantly pegged as creative, and I figured there was a lot of creativity involved both in coming up with the concept and in figuring out how to pull it off so gracefully under the conditions you were shooting in. <br><br>
    it strikes me that in all examples people have provided so far, there’s a similarity in the aspects of the making of the photo that the photographers have self-described as being creative, but it’s hard not to notice (!) that from the viewer’s perspective, the definitions of what’s creative have varied a lot more. Which means we have a definition problem. My impression is that David, Supriyo, Steve, and I share a very similar definition of what creativity is, and my last few days of reading through some papers on creativity (would you believe that there are at least 5 journals on general creativity research?) suggest that the definition we’re using is the one that’s generally accepted (examples: “Creativity is the ability to produce work that is both novel [i.e. original, unexpected] and appropriate”; “A creative idea is one that is both original and appropriate for the situation in which it occurs”). And I agree with Supriyo that a shared understanding of the meaning of words is fundamental to our ability to hear what someone else is trying to say. <br><br>

    But the differences in personal definitions that have shown up here are important—Julie has a working definition that focuses on the potential for achieving a creative outcome, and Fred uses one that relies on an interaction between himself and the artwork (and I apologize if I’ve butchered either of your concepts--please set me straight if I have). Both of these are very meaningful and powerful ideas, even if they don’t fit under the umbrella that the standard definition provides. My impression (and again, correct me if I’m misstating this) is that both Julie and Fred are going for a distinction between what’s simply run-of-the-mill creativity and what’s art. That distinction would indeed bring the cultural context for a work into the mix…but do we really want to talk about what is and isn’t art?
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
  5. <br><br>
    Leslie, what's the similarity you find in the aspects of making we've described?
  6. Fred, when I wrote that comment, I didn't have your post in mind. I was commenting on creativity as it applies to many different disciplines, not only art. In some disciplines (such as David's example of architecture, or war and game), the strategy can be more creative than the end result. Now when I go back and read your post, I can appreciate what you said, because that pertains specially to art.
    I agree, just because one thinks he/she is being creative may not necessarily be reflected in the final work. Here I would make the distinction that creativity like many other impressions can be subjective IMO. What is creative to a newbie (like I was to photography once) may not be so to a seasoned artist. However the newbie's feeling is valid I think, because he is simply not exposed to the many possibilities in his area of interest.
    Also, I think the bar for creativity could be set depending on the age and mood of the society. What is considered creative in a society with conservative artistic notions may not be the same in a radical or freethinking society.
  7. This is an article I came across. A psychologist studied creative individuals from multiple disciplines. Here is a quote from the article:

    "... the study showed that creativity is informed by a whole host of intellectual, emotional, motivational and moral characteristics. The common traits that people across all creative fields seemed to have in common were an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks."

    The whole article is here:
    sjmurray and jack mcritchie like this.

  8. How fascinating!
    You're saying that 'creativity' for the one is a completely different kind of thing than 'creativity' for the other? One word for many kinds of things? It means whatever you want it to mean? Or are you saying that the difference is a matter of degree? There are quantities of creativity? Which is to say that it is so for both, which disagrees with your statement ("not so to a seasoned artist").
  9. I am saying, what is considered creative depends on the experience of the individual. Taken to the extreme, to a child, merely drawing a curve on a piece of paper can be creative. That feeling to that person is as valid as to a seasoned artist. It doesn't violate the popular definition of creativity, which involves original never before thought of ideas (with respect to the individual, or groups of individuals, or a society or an age). Creativity IMO inevitably involves a reference point.
    You may have a very high standard of creativity where most ideas seem unoriginal to you if it has a shred of existing knowledge. If there are many more people whose minds work like that, your standard of creativity may be the norm. However, as far as I understand, thats not the case.
  10. Each person decides if it's creativity based on ... what? His own personal reference--pointed creativity-o-meter calibrated from the Bureau of Creativity's Uniform Creativity module?
  11. I
    Level of experience. Many years back, when I saw the first photo of a waterfall with a long exposure, I thought it was creative because I had little experience. My feeling was valid relative to my experience then.
  12. Good. I understand you. Using your criteria to answer the OP question, then, "Can the creativity of an image be assessed without knowledge of the image’s context?", the answer is "YES!" because all images is creative by somebody's criteria. Or "NO!" because the word 'creativity' has been rendered completely meaningless -- it applies to all images and therefore to none.
  13. Julie, I don't remember anyone in this or any previous forum ever claimed that creativity can be measured. As far as I remember its you who referred to measuring creativity because you misunderstood the point of the MRI study which was to identify areas of brain that contribute to creative thoughts. Totally different thing than any metric for creativity. Then you stated what cannot be measured is not science, which is also incorrect. Now if you want to coin ridiculous phrases like creativity meter to enjoy yourself, go ahead. I have no problem enjoying your show.
  14. You generalized to "all images". I didn't. I said, people can find certain works creative depending on their level of experience. If you consider a basic experience level of the grownup population, that doesn't translate to "all images".
  15. Fred asked, "Leslie, what's the similarity you find in the aspects of making we've described?"<br> <br>
    Sorry, I should have elaborated on that. Here are the commonalities I saw:
    • Coming up with a new concept for an image: looking for or recognizing a unique perspective or mood or atmosphere or effect (“It shows imagination”)
    • Figuring out how to capture the “this is cool” that was recognized from the conceptualization (either in-camera or in post or both) (“a sense of craft” and “it shows imagination”)—the creative problem solving that goes into making the photographer’s vision of what could be into an image that the rest of us can see. <br><br>
    And that was a very interesting paper you linked to, Supriyo--thanks for providing the link<br><br>
    Looks like I need some help in figuring out how to quote from elsewhere in the thread--how are you doing that?
  16. <br><br>Here I disagree. I don't really think terribly much is subjective. The seasoned artist, in saying that the newbie is not being creative, in the majority of cases, will be right. The fact that sometimes the seasoned artist will get this wrong doesn't make it all subjective. One way for the newbie to improve is to listen to what the seasoned artist has to say and, more importantly, figure out what the seasoned artist is doing and showing and then forge his or her own path inspired by such discovery.
    <br><br>A caveat here . . . I don't think many seasoned artists would go about critiquing a newbie's work by saying "you're not creative." They'd get into the mud with them. They'd critique their work in artistic, esthetic, and personal terms, terms INTERNAL to the art itself, not trying to objectively fit it into some fixed or pre-defined notion of creativity.
    <br><br>I think most artists would try to get into the mindset and feelset of the younger artist and help them fulfill whatever potential they see. But if they see a bunch of clichés or mimicry (as opposed to creativity) coming through, they might point out why those photos or paintings are clichés and show the newbie some photos that fall into that trap. If the newbie doesn't listen, but instead uses his or her subjectivity as an excuse, that newbie will likely not make terribly good photos.
    <br><br>On the other hand, there are those rare newbies who will listen to nothing and forge their own way completely independently and really get to something. I don't think most will. That will be extremely rare.
  17. Leslie (if I can get this to upload) EITHER highlight one segment and you'll see a 'reply' flyout OR click the Reply:
  18. Leslie, in my own way of photographing and working in general, uniqueness isn't necessarily part of the "it shows imagination" aspect. One of the reasons I think of that photo of Ian above as imaginative is because I felt (though probably didn't realize at the time) loosely influenced by some Japanese photographers I'd been newly exposed to at the time. I actually felt a certain joy not that I'd come up with something unique but that I'd applied something that moved me or meant something to me to something I was doing personally and that it seemed so well suited to Ian's character in the moment. Now, of course, that's unique in the sense that no one else did that very same thing at that very same moment except me, but that's not uniqueness in any significant sense of the word, IMO. By that standard, everything we do is unique. For me, the imaginative part was synthesizing something I'd seen and been provoked by (the high contrast Japanese styles which I had noticed really pushed the way a face could look and feel) with something I was feeling as very personal at the time, which was getting to know Ian and finding him incredibly photogenic.
    <br><br>I keep using variants of the word "personal" because that's more significant to me than uniqueness or creativity.
    <br><br>[Mind you, all this wasn't consciously on my mind at the time, of course. It's my analysis of what I feel was happening.]
    <br><br>The craft part, then, didn't feel so much like a search for that "this is cool" moment. It felt a little more like the blind leading the blind. At the time, it was the uncertainty that drove me and there's still some of that involved when I look at it. That strong highlight around Ian's shadow, for example, I'm still not quite sure of it but my not being sure actually feels OK to me. I fine tuned it thus and am willing to live with the uncertainty of it. But I did not have a "this is cool" moment around some of the post processing choices I made here.
  19. Seasoned artists despise and disparage one another's work. The best critics are hated and disparaged by other critics and by most artists.
  20. Fred, I agree with you thats what an experienced artist would do while interacting with the newbie, and most of the time it would be in the newbie's interest to listen to him/her. However, I was trying to make a different point. I was considering the case where a newbie doesn't pretend to be creative, but rather have a genuine feeling about his/her thoughts.
    A newbie may have seen a photo of a waterfall somewhere with a long exposure and it inspires him. So he goes and shoots one himself thinking thats very creative. Alternatively, there may be a newbie who has never seen a waterfall photo, but comes up with the idea of long exposure all by himself. The photos produced by both would possibly be cliches by modern standard, but I would consider the second newbie to be genuinely creative. The first one might fit your description of people who imagine themselves to be creative.

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