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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds What do we mean when we talk about creative coding? What do we mean when we use the term creativity? You might have at some stage though of yourself as being creative, perhaps your friends and family have thought so to. Perhaps you also have friends that are creative. According to this model it is the individual who can express themselves in words, images or music that is creative. However, creativity is much more than the individual expression. Creativity is ‘to bring into existence something genuinely new that is valued enough to be added to culture.’ In 1988, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed a systems approach to the creative endeavour. Instead of asking ‘what is creativity?’

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds Csikszentmihalyi questioned the assumption that creativity is found in the mind of the individual to ask ‘where is creativity?’ According to Csikszentmihalyi creativity happens in the interaction between a persons thoughts and in the socio-cultural context in which these thoughts occur. That means creativity is systemic rather than an individual phenomenon. In this model creativity can be observed in the interrelations of a system.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds This system has 3 central features: A creative idea must be understandable to others in a domain; for example mathematics is a domain just as architecture or fine arts are domains Creativity must be confirmed by experts in the field; that is the gatekeepers to the domain Creativity must be introduced back into the cultural domain in which it belongs to In this model creativity is an act, or an idea or product that changes an existing domain. Behind this simple idea is a very complex process. Our social and cultural environment plays a critical role in validating a creative act or idea. Take for example the merchant city Florence during the fifteenth century.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 seconds Throughout this period there was an exceptionally large number of influential artists creating remarkable art. One could mistakenly assume that it was mere coincidence for all these artists to working in Florence at the same time in the same place. However, there were numerous cultural and political conditions that aligned to give rise to this unique situation. For example, ancient Roman building techniques had recently been rediscovered which fuelled innovation in architecture and art. This came at a time when Florence was an extremely rich merchant city and the surrounding city-states envied Florentine wealth and its powerful merchants and politicians.

Skip to 2 minutes and 42 seconds It was in this heady atmosphere of innovation, wealth and political uncertainty that bankers, churchmen and heads of guilds established Florence as the most beautiful city in Christendom. To achieve this they commissioned artists to create an astonishing number of artworks in a very short period of time. The surge of creative activity that occurred in Florence during this time was made possible by a unique constellation of factors in the history of human enterprise. The French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu refers to this socio-cultural formation of creativity as belonging to a field of cultural production.

Skip to 3 minutes and 17 seconds For Bourdieu the creative process must take into account not only those who create the work of art, but also the people and the institutions which participate not only in the production of the value of the work but in the belief in the value of the work itself. In this, it is not simply the work itself that is creative but the value placed on the work. And it is this value that determines its status as creative. The value system itself is not creative per se; creativity operates within an institutionalised value system. Needless to say that in the twenty-first century creativity operates in the institutionalised value system mediated by computers and computation.

What does creativity mean?

Watch Mark Guglielmetti explore the meaning of creativity.

One common belief is that an individual who can express themselves in images, words and music is creative. In this model the individual is creative. Another way to explore creativity is to think about it as a social and cultural activity which occurs in a system. This is a useful way to think about creativity especially when artists and designers attempt to model creativity using computer systems.

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Creative Coding

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