Curating The Week: Blur, Imperfections, The Time Course Of Creativity

An article about optical blur (which has me thinking about blurring in music).

“There are still artists for whom the purity of optical blur—a tiny depth of field with a single detail picked out, or total lack of focus across the composition—says something important about the limits of perception, or usefully frustrates a viewer’s expectations. The delicate domestic studies of Rinko Kawauchi, the out-of-reach architecture and interiors of Hiroshi Sugimoto, jewel-colored mirages by Uta Barth, Catherine Leutenegger, and Bill Armstrong—all of these owe something to the long history of deliberate blur, but also, perhaps, to the kind of maddening error we all used to make when we forgot to focus, or snapped away too close to our subject.”

An article about the value of imperfections on music recordings.

“When music gets cleaned up too much, listeners lose opportunities to connect their imperfections with those in the music, the human traces that might otherwise reach the ear and burrow into the heart. Fewer are the opportunities to hear oneself in the music, to follow the threads that tie the listener to it. The effect is the same when the pumped-up realities we encounter on social media leave people who are feeling their own unfiltered humanness at a distance, isolated.”

An article about the time course of creativity.

“Creativity is the generation of ideas that are novel and useful. Research finds that, when generating solutions to a creative problem, people typically do not generate their most creative ideas first. Instead, creative ideas tend to emerge over time, such as over the course of an ideation session or even over the course of a career. One reason for this time course is because of the cognitive processes that underlie idea generation itself. New ideas are generated by integrating and recombining knowledge in working memory. When solving a new problem, the information that comes to mind first (i.e., is the most cognitively accessible) tends to draw on common and obvious cognitive associations, which tend to result in more common—and less creative—ideas. After working on the problem for a period of time, people begin to draw on less common associations and less obvious approaches and, ultimately, arrive at more creative ideas. This feature of idea generation is one reason why persistence is a consistent predictor of creative performance.”

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