Monday 10 October 2011

The Creative Process

I’ve always been puzzled as to why art is associated with creativity.

Even painting a landscape is generally considered a fairly creative sort of activity, but what about it is really creative?

All you’re doing is transferring a three dimensional scene onto a two dimensional picture-plane.  In reality it’s a very mechanical process, and the more you paint, and the more you practice the more mechanical it becomes.
There’s really nothing about the idea or the process that’s very unusual or that requires a lateral-thinking, problem-solving approach.

Of course you could say it’s creative because you create something, but by that reasoning a machine in a factory is likely to be much more creative than any human.

Contemporary art doesn’t restrict itself to landscapes though. 
Contemporary art flashes light bulbs, hangs paintings facing the wall and shoots paint out of its butt, so it must be more creative right?
I don’t think so.

Contemporary art is not all that different to boring old traditional art, it just adheres to a slightly different aesthetic. 
In the olden days the rule used to be: "Make your work seem beautiful."
Nowadays the rule is: “Make your work seem different.”

So artists sit down and think “How can I make my work seem like it’s different to other work.”
Then they decide to drip melted tinfoil onto a cheeseburger which is nailed to a dead cat, and they stick it in a big, white room and put a plaque next to it so that people can see how different it is from all the other different things in the room.  But is this creativity?

All they’ve done is methodically followed steps to produce something that adheres to the current fashion in art.  Just because this fashion is ultimately consumed by the idea of appearing new and original doesn’t mean that the process being followed hinges on any creative thought.

When I make a sandwich I adhere to a certain taste (and to a much lesser extent, nutritional) aesthetic.  Perhaps no one has ever before arranged their ham and cheese in exactly the same way as I have, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything creative about the process.

Is a random number generator creative?


Then why is a random art generator?

To me creativity is about trying to look at the world with a new perspective. 
‘How does this work?’
‘Why is it like that?’
‘Is there a better way to do it?’
‘Isn’t that interesting?’
‘Isn’t that funny?’
Creativity is what makes people look at the earth and question how we stick to it.

The funny thing is that what I like about the process of art is the way that it’s not creative. 
You don’t have to encompass the world of art in your brain and shift it 45 degrees every time you make something.  All you have to do is draw something every day and eventually you’ll get really good at it.  Then you can play and experiment and find ways to affect people.

You never have to make a big, original, creative step.  You can just make 4 million really tiny boring steps and you’ll find yourself somewhere fascinating.

So I guess art’s just like anything else, and in reality the artist who made the picture on your wall is not necessarily more creative than the guy who designed your water-bill. 

It might be just a matter of language but I think it’s good to keep in mind that there’s nothing inherently creative about randomly chucking a bunch of paint at a board.

Oh, and contemporary art sucks.  Did I mention that?