Creative artist?

“Creative artist” and “artistic creativity” are terms of ordinary discourse that are used in unsystematic ways. We will partly base the development of our argument on Margaret Boden’s ideas on creativity. Boden defines creativity asthe ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising, and valuable. “’Ideas’, here, includes concepts, poems, musical compositions, scientific theories, cooking recipes, choreography, jokes…and so on, and on. ‘Artifacts’ include paintings, sculpture, steam engines, vacuum cleaners, pottery, origami, penny whistles…and you can name many more” (Boden 2010, 29). According to Boden (2010), one must distinguish three types of creativity: combinatorial, exploratory and transformational. The first type (combinatorial creativity) is related to the emergence of ideas or artifacts through combinatorial processes of already known ideas or artifacts. The second (exploratory creativity) is the exploration of conceptual spaces, which are “structured styles of thought” (Boden 2010, 32), and include “ways of writing prose or poetry; styles of sculpture, painting or music; theories in chemistry or biology; haute couture or choreography; […] summarizing any disciplined mode of thinking that is familiar (and valid) to a certain social group” (Boden 2010, 32). “Ideas” are possible or conceivable in certain conceptual spaces. In exploratory creativity, possibilities are investigated and explored, without modification of the “structure of thoughts”.

bodenThe third type (transformational creativity) “involves some transformation into one, or more, of the (relatively fundamental) dimensions that define the specific conceptual space” (Boden 2010, 29). A conceptual space is established through “a set of constraints, which allows the generation of structures within this space […]. If one or more of these constraints is changed (or abandoned), space is transformed. Ideas that were previously impossible (relating to the original conceptual space) become conceivable” (Boden 1999, 352).

More rare, with greater “cognitive cost”, the transformational creativity is related to the emergence of new scientific and artistic paradigms. We are especially interested here in this type of creativity, and in its relation to external artifacts and materials (e.g., notations, protocols of execution, physical and mechanical properties of the instruments).

Boden, Margaret. Creativity and Art: Three Roads to Surprise. Oxford UP, 2010.

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João Queiroz & Pedro Atã

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