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. "n the creativity of an image be assessed without knowledge of the image’s context?"

    in a practical sense we always have knowledge of the photo we took....because we took it.

    But a photo can take on a life of its own....and we think wow I took that. Chaos, random, have important roles in photography. We think we are the masters but are we?
  2. Jeez.

    Cannot upload a photo.
  3. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    if someone imagines themself to be creative and they are not, aren't they being creative ;-)

  4. Though I disagree with Supriyo about ... a few things ( LOL ), I actually think he's making a valid point. Since kindergarten, we've been encouraged to think that messing about with our crayons is creative. It's not like the teachers were lying, but it's also not like they knew (or even gave a thought to) what creativity is. Nor did I, with my lovely crayons ...
  5. I've been trying to evaluate Julie's position and description of creativity against my own academic and professional experience of (1) trying to learn or be taught creative problem solving over many years of architectural education, and (2) wondering if my 30 years of professional design work that I think is creative is simply the work of a hack applying already-defined solutions within a known set of criteria. And, if this is true for me, then it must likewise be true of great and recognized Architects (you pick your favorites). I have no desire to belittle or demean Julie's position, but I remain fundamentally in disagreement. It has been my pleasure and privilege to read Julie's accounts of her process and expectations of her own creative path. Yet, she knowingly picks that path, prepares for it, and in doing so belies her own assertion that her creative process is to enter a void without precondition, how she might define what has now become new space around her.

    I expect architecture school is like many other art education experiences: The central part of the pedagogy is the critique, where those who are acknowledged adepts in the art critique the work of the student, and the student is required to both listen and learn, as well as defend his work. It can be an emotionally brutal process, and is not for the fragile of ego. Among other things, this process teaches students how to apply a rigorous and demanding process to creative problem solving. Julie's position would, as I understand it, demands that the truly creative person/artist could not have any conception of any goal regarding their work before commencing the journey or arriving at the unknown (unknowable?) goal. I am reminded of the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. Forgive me if I misapply the principle, but by Julie's definition, is Alice being creative in wanting to just get somewhere, anywhere, without regard for any particular goal or pathway? Somehow, I think not. Every one of us, even Julie, lays the foundation for our creativity (or creative efforts) in how we learn and prepare, in perfecting our craft, and in understanding the means by which we communicate with others.

    I never expect to be as creative as some others, but I also appreciate Fred's description of my photograph of Turret Arch. He described the result better than I ever could have. (Thank you, Fred.) I have no expectation of changing Julie's mind about her own creative process, nor would I really want to. What I hope this discussion and the very salient points made by Supriyo, Leslie, and Fred will do is provide learners in our chosen art an alternative and accessible definition of creativity that they can understand, apply, and experience for themselves. I state without reservation that real creativity is accessible to one degree or another to most people, and that "aha!" moment of creative insight will come, but it takes a substantial amount of preparation and thought for most of us to get there. I hope those who are learning this art do not consider themselves creative failures if they never reach that empty, Nirvana-like condition defined by Julie as the only truly creative construct.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  6. And the Cheshire Cat conversation:
    <br><br>“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    <br>The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
    <br>Alice: I don't much care where.
    <br>The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
    <br>Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere.
    <br>The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
    And the reason I had it handy was that in one of my earlier posts I'd edited out the Humpty Dumpty conversation:

    <br><br>I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
    <br>Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
    <br>'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
    <br>'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
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  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Art and architecture -- simply architecture must obey the laws of physics as well as the lesser constraints of popular genres in the the building has to stand and function. Creativity, obviously a wonderful thing -- primarily for the pleasure / satisfaction of the artist, and few genuine artists are herd animals. Obviously, like land wars in Asia, these are conversations I should avois.
  8. But Sandy, it's such an invigorating mental exercise!
  9. I struggle with these conversations about creativity, mainly because I have been a “creative” person my whole life. I have never questioned it, analyzed it, or even tried to be creative on purpose, for that matter. For over the last 20 years of my professional life (in a hospital with a lot of brilliant people) I have created major changes in the way things were done in whatever workplace I was in. Other people have always regarded me as the “creative guy” and often with bewilderment as to how I do it. All I can say is that I, like the others in my family, and I suspect there are some genetics involved here, have always had the natural tendency to “think out of the box,” and to be able to construct solutions, often for problems that other people weren’t even aware of until they were presented with the solution. My father started his own advertising agency in his early 30’s as was very successful throughout his career. My brother (eight years younger) was a child intellectual and musical prodigy and did/does play classical as well as jazz, and actually taught keyboard improvisation at a local music school in Minneapolis (he is a psychiatrist now). BTW, for me photography is only one facet of who I am, and I am creative through all the facets of who I am. For me, creativity just happens as just part of my usual thoughts, except it turns out to be an idea that hasn’t been done before in a particular environment. I am primarily a visual thinker, so I tend to visualize the ideas very quickly. What takes time is the implementation. Once it’s accomplished, other people get on board and are really happy I did it. The article Suprio recently shared I think makes a lot of sense. Photographic creativity or artistic creativity is probably less obvious or demonstrable than making a big change in someone’s workplace. When I do photography, I’m not thinking particularly about being creative. I think it is a refreshing time for me because I am not solving any particular problem, but just exploring and being free with my visual senses. Is that creative? I suppose sometimes it is.

    I’d like to share these resources:

    Author Elizabeth Gilbert has a great TED talk on creativity:

    And of course, one of my favorite talks on a couple of subjects that interrelate with creativity: mindfulness and awareness is by Jon Kabat-Zinn talking at Google.

    supriyo likes this.

  10. Yes. Exactly. Thank you Leslie for quoting it in full.
    <br> <br>

    But why do you seem to worship creativity and devalue skill? I think skill is on a par with creativity. What's wrong with being a Weston or a Michael Jordon and putting the ball in the hoop with peerless skill? Versus any of a number of very creative artists I could mention whose work is irritating, ugly and obnoxious?
  11. David, coincidentally, I was at the Cantor Museum on the Stanford Campus today, one of my favorite smaller museums in a very beautiful location on a now rare non-rainy afternoon, and these were among the introductory remarks to one of the more interesting exhibits. The word "creatively" is used in a very appropriate way, I think, a way that most here will understand. I think impossible-to-achieve notions of creativity are a matter of theoretical academic idealism but not of practical experience.
  12. Leslie, this sculpture, by Deborah Butterfield (1999), is on display in the lobby of the Cantor. I was with four friends and all of us were remarking how clever and effective it was to use driftwood this way. One of the guys read the information plaque over on the wall describing the piece and came back to tell us that it was actually a bronze sculpture made to look like driftwood. (This furthers Phil's idea about such information being important to our understanding of how creative the sculpture is.) Funny story . . . he reached over to start to touch it because it looked so much like driftwood that it impelled him to want to feel it for himself. We all stopped him, knowing that you're not supposed to touch most things in museums. But he laughed and said that the plaque said you can touch it. We all did, figuring the artist knew viewers might want that kind of personal experience and confirmation of her materials. A guard came up to us and scolded us, so we referred him to the plaque, where he showed us that it actually suggested touching a sample "bone" that was sitting on a table behind us, and that we were not supposed to touch the finished sculpture itself. He had a good spirit and laughed along with us at our dumb mistake. But the point is, the artist actually realized just how surprising (and tactile) her work was that she actually offered the chance to touch and confirm what we were seeing by supplying the sample. We walked away a little embarrassed by our poor reading comprehension skills and the fact that we were five "sophisticated" 60-somethings who had just broken the rules and gotten into a wee bit of trouble. Here's the kind of thing you started the thread with, a case where context is necessary for the viewer. I think whether and what kind of context is helpful when viewing a photo or any kind of art will be case specific.
    It also strikes me as I write this how much, for me, art is this kind of experience. Yes, sometimes I experience art subjectively and alone, with my own "inner" feelings, etc. But very often, I experience it with some sort of community spirit, like on this day. Sharing art with others is great. There are many reasons to prefer looking at art at a museum as opposed to books (the biggest being that you're seeing the original!), but a big one for me is hearing the reactions of and even just feeling the presence of others experiencing the art as well. I think there's something to be said for feeding off the feelings of others in responding to art and creativity. In this case, as in so many cases, the art experience will be wider and deeper than just my relationship to the art itself. Art has this kind of very expansive potential.
  13. "Creatively" does not = creativity by any definition. For example, I creatively rearrange the furniture in my room all the time.
  14. Grasping at straws.
  15. For Julie: If Fred's exemplar of the horse sculpture is creative (by your definition), which part of its evolution is creative? Is it the idea to replicate a horse in sculptural form? Is it the vision to use driftwood to do so? Is it the seeing of possibility in pieces of driftwood and collecting them to this purpose? Is it the construction of the original sculpture of the collected pieces? Or, is it the vision to then replicate the driftwood sculpture in bronze? I ask this question in an effort to understand and apply your process to a tangible result, eg the sculpture shared by Fred. If you find it creative, please help us understand how your definition of creativity applies to its creation. If not, then please explain why not. For me, I find it very creative, and it also reminds me of the tremendously creative equine props in the War Horse stage play.
  16. David, I've said a couple of times, above, that, in my opinion, creativity is a process: it's not 'in' the object. I'd have to hear a self-description of that process from the artist to answer your questions. She (the artist) may have made dozens of these and by now it may be a matter of cranking them out. As said in an earlier post, to me, being able to access or be in the space where she finds such things is where the creativity would go on: it's not what (if anything) she does once she knows (Ah!) she's there.
  17. If you're really interested in understanding what I've been talking about, I would highly recommend watching PBS's series, Art21. If you watch all eight seasons of it you'll see more than a hundred of the best contemporary artists talking about their art often as they are making it. There is no narrator, so all you will see is the artists talking about their process. Even if you're not interested in what I've been saying, the series is a good education.
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  18. David,
    I think
    Julie, just to be clear, to the OP's question, your answer would be no then? Whats the use of such a creativity that is only in the process, not in (evident) the end product? Most of the photos that we see rarely come with any context. Art is more often a communal experience where the feeling comes from the art and the reactions of the audience, in absence of the artist's commentary.
  19. Thanks for sharing the ART21 series info Julie. I had never heard of it and I always learn a lot from documentaries.
  20. I have a simple "test" scenario especially for Julie to see if it fits any criteria for being creative. Its not an art example, but as we must agree, creativity is not just for the arts. All aspects of human life depend upon creativity. That's why I think it is a genetic adaptation that evolved in order for the survival of our species. Without creativity we would still be hunters and gatherers if not extinct!

    At work the other day our unit got an award for having very high patient satisfaction ratings. A person from corporate came by and hung a large plastic hanging poster on the wall outside our door—maybe 6 feet long, using tape with little hooks for the corner grommets. A couple days later one of the tape/hooks fell off and the poster was mostly on the ground. Since nobody on the unit had a replacement hook, and simply using scotch tape wasn’t strong enough, it was just left there. After passing by myself a few times I eventually stopped to think about fixing it. I immediately noticed that the place where the tape/hook had been was near a screw in the metal window frame. I ran and got a screwdriver and a paper clip. I unscrewed the screw a little, enough to wrap an end of the paper clip to fasten it, and I then looped the other end of the paper clip through the grommet in the poster, and viola! Its been hanging successfully now for over a month. Was I being creative? Why or why not.

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