Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Questions worth answering

via the very sharp Stephen Irven:

* What is the primary reason for having it?

* Who will be using it, and in what way? (Is it a broadcast medium, or collaborative, or something else entirely? What sort of people will be interested in it?

* What kind of information will it be focused on?

* Is there another website doing something similar? How is this going to be different?

* Has anyone done something similar, but ended up with a result that you don't like? What has led to this?

* Are the aims and objectives likely to change over a 12, 24, 36 month timescale? Is there any way to envisage or predict what might be needed down the line?

* How many people are likely to be involved with using or contributing to this (in a 12, 24, 36 month timescale)

* Is the whole site for public use, or are there likely to be private or restricted areas?

* What are your planned timescales for making and using it? Are there several phases?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The initial proposal.

The catalyst: An investigation into participatory creative engagement through the design of a web-based system.

This research aims to investigate, through implementation, modification and reflection, how a dynamic online environment is best designed to facilitate creativity in its users. In doing so, this exploration will traverse connectivity, community, creativity techniques, and the ideal conditions for experiencing ongoing conceptual innovation.

The objective is to build a stimulating construct through which visual artists and designers can regain their creative impetus by responding at will to elemental briefs; tangential creative provocations. The research will work actively through the assumption that the tactile act of generating artwork, unrelated though it may be to the primary objective of the blocked creative concerned, will facilitate further creative generation.

The response of participants will inform the design of the site throughout the investigation, forming a digital sculpture concerning the relationship between inspiration and application – the generation of actual art and design.
Sticky... think about the following (dubiously sourced) from an e-zine authored by Kal Bishop.

Motivation. Motivation is arguably more important than nature / nurture or traits. Someone with natural ability or placed in the right environment may not take advantage of it unless motivated. There is intrinsic motivation, synergistic and non-synergistic extrinsic motivation. How can it be induced and measured? There are many elements: material reward, progress to the ideal self, self-determination, self-evaluation, feedback, enjoyment, competency expansion, recognition and feasibility.

Blocks to creativity and organisational culture. What are the blocks to creativity and how can they be overcome? We can all be more creative, so what is stopping us? There are many blocks such as evaluation apprehension (in its many forms) and lack of adequate finance and resources. Separating creative from critical thinking, incremental productivity, tools that draw out tacit knowledge and using frameworks to trigger flow are some of the effective unblocking techniques. What is psychological safety and freedom? What properties of an organisational culture cultivate productivity?

Alllright Cleveland!! Are you ready to rock!!?!

This research goes out to those creative "identifying" folks out there. Pointless to try and find a common trait to creativity. As such, the results will be an at will engagement. If you want to get your creative on, I don't care what your day job is, we'll get it going.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Stunned to learn that that the word 'provocation' is already in use in association with creativity techniques. I'll continue to use it regardless; it's the best expression of what these little prompts are.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The proposal

So I'm writing a new research proposal. Not that I'm proposing, exactly, I'm more like doing, but taking the time to propose anyway. It's like living with someone for thirty years, and getting married at town hall just to make it official. Or something. Anyway, it's hard, which is why it needs to be done because every time I struggle with the phrasing or angle, it means that something is unresolved,a nd I need to think it through. Everything needs to be articulated carefully, or I'm going to find myself in real trouble at some point later on.
Take for example the working title. The problem I'm having at this early stage is that the title is too long, but it's hard to know where to trim where the snip won't weaken meaning.
Come with me... I'll show you...

The catalyst: An investigation into participatory creative engagement and active outcomes through the design of a web-based system.

Isn't that a doozie? See, it says everything it needs to, and is only a Tweet in length, but jeez. It's a "catalyst", sure. Got it. The full colon is an equal sign, and on the right, balances rather ambitiously, precariously, the reality of what the catalyst is. Simply stated, it's action research project using the experience of people engaging through my design to solve a certain problem, a problem of finding a way to rouse latent creativity. I have to say "active outsomes", because I'm very deliberately not dealing with notions of creative ideation. What I am interested in is creativity put into action - variously; things made.

Here's a helpful definition of a catalyst, with the irrelevant portion dimmed. Emphasis all mine, baby.


Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.
a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

Another problem I'm encountering is the sheer scope of even this simple seeming project. My God. The more I think, and read and write, the more ground I see needs to be covered. It's as though every conceptual element supporting my project splits before my eyes, like cels multiplying, and each in turn halving, and splitting, and halving - two thoughts becoming four, four becoming sixteen, sixteen becoming thirty-two... it's really giving me a case of the shrinking realities, like contemplating the night sky and just thinking, "Huh. I guess I don't matter in this vastness." OK, that's an analogy too far.

Some people have done some really interesting study into creativity. Like this, for example. Lot's of great reading. I haven't seen a project like mine so far. So far, and so good.

Monday, 3 August 2009

A few tentacles...

PROVOCATION: Hold a sheet of A4 white paper landscape, and using scissors, cut a landscape across the top of the page, and using negative space, cut detail into the paper. Lose yourself.
WEB: Infinte, looping, scrolling journey across the landscape. Left to right travel, each project abutted against each other to form a continuous journey.

PROVOCATION: Draw and name people you see pass you by while sitting in a café (or library, or park). Draw them as you imagine their nature or personlity to be, using line, shape, or texture to convey the essense of the person.
WEB: Virtual café (or library, or park), in manner of Saul Steinberg. Piece all submissions together to juxtapose interesting characters.

PROVOCATION: Visually express an irrational fear
WEB: Periodic table of the elements of fear.

PROVOCATION: Write an angry letter to the editor
WEB: Typographic exploration of outrage with dynamic text.