Saturday Dip in Creativity

It’s Saturday, so it’s time for a skip through the interwebs, looking for creative ideas and projects. The Wellcome Collection describes itself as: “Wellcome Collection is a free visitor destination for the incurably curious, exploring the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. ” Sounds good. I was intrigued by an exhibition called Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan, which talks about identity and the relationship between names and letters.

Rome Rooftops by Isaac Tobin. Details below.

Rome Rooftops by Isaac Tobin. Details below.

There are many other areas on the site that I haven’t checked out yet, including High Tea, a game you can play on line, in which you try to make money in the teas and drug trade, 10 years before the Opium Wars. Before you wrinkle your nose, there are related articles including one which considers whether or not drug use is a sin, a crime, a vice,  or a a disease.

The Color Of is an app that shows you the color of abstract ideas. It does it by going to Instagram, grabbing photos that mentions the word, then creating an abstract by overlapping the images. Interesting.

The Graphics Fairy publishes hundreds of copyright-free images that you can use on cards or stationery. Sort of online ephemera, printable.

Nerhol is a two-artist collective who uses photography in unusual ways. In this series, subjects were asked to sit still for three minutes, while a camera clicked away, taking a series of photos. The photos were then layered and cut to show the subtle movement and facial changes of the “sitting still” subjects.

Isaac Tobin designs typefaces and works for Chicago University Press designing book covers. But the work of his I love are his minimalist collages. That’s one of them up there, but there are many more, some of them so spare, so not “layers on layers” we are used to loving now, that they are refreshing.

It’s the weekend! Enjoy your own creativity.

Quinn McDonald is working on a collage of her own. It’s done with letters and numbers. Again.

8 thoughts on “Saturday Dip in Creativity

  1. I have my doubts. I don’t really believe it’s very efficient to “learn x by doing y”. I think if you want to learn, for example, critical thinking, then you should learn critical thinking. If games and entertainment have a role, maybe it’s prior to that, by helping identify what you want to learn.

    • I think exercises are the way to really learn something. Not just reading, but doing it in an exercise. That’s a game for me. Or practice. For me, it’s often the same thing.

  2. High Tea is pretty nice, and illustrates something I have (as a sometime simulation game builder) wrestled with: how overt to make the informational part of the game. More generally, when making something intended to “serve as a medium” — to convey a message, inform, further an opinion, etc — there’s a delicate balance between making the product inherently interesting (or fun, beautiful, engaging, creative, entertaining) and reinforcing the message.

    It’s very hard to trust your audience. If the game is “too much fun”, will they understand the message? If it’s presented in an “educational context” like a class or museum, will the audience “get it” and be able to complete the (almost inevitable) assessment? Part of the educational context is time; you probably won’t trust your audience to have time to let things sink in, mull them over, and puzzle out the message. Besides, if the work is good enough, they might arrive at a quite different message. If the work is commissioned, that wouldn’t be welcomed.

    The first simulation game I made presented a ten-year period (just like High Tea!) during which players had to manage competing small businesses. It was part of a management training course, and although the people who ran the course were delighted with it (offering “computer simulation” in 1985 was a selling point) I’ve always been disappointed because while it hammered home its points, it wasn’t much fun. I did better with some later ones, but in every one of them I was left with the sense that being overt about the message is somehow the wrong approach.

    It may be that anything made has to have a certain level of complexity to be able to carry much of a message. But I think to have real value — to be the kind of thing people want to do, or to have, or to keep — you have to almost forget you have a message and trust the audience to find it anyway.

    • Oddly enough, these are the same issues I have with in-person training. I have to make it fun, but not too much fun, or I get slammed in the evals. I have to make it progress, but if I go too fast, nothing is retained. We have to do exercises to get the feel of the learning, but exercises take time and limit how much we can learn. It’s spooky, but the problems are the same.

      • I once made a game where the object was to change the rules and find out what the outcome would be. It didn’t work because what I was really after was changing the underlying assumptions that gave rise to the rules. That is, players would think to change the rules of trading, values, and the like. But better would have been changing the idea of ownership. That never worked because most people found it too hard to recognize that something that deeply ingrained is just an arbitrary idea, and has been completely different in other times and places. “You can’t trade anything because everything belongs to the king” or “no trading because ownership doesn’t exist” or “nothing has more value than anything else” took too long for the implications to solidify.

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