Defining creativity

What is art? Exhibit at Hirshhorn Museum: Untitled (Sculptural Study, Twelve-Part Vertical Construction) by Fred Sandback

I went to Boston by train for Thanksgiving 2010. On the way there, our train passed through Connecticut and Rhode Island, states neither I nor my traveling companion had ever been to.

“Now I’ll have been to two more states,” he said.

“No, you won’t,” I said. “We’re just in the train. That doesn’t count.”

“But Jenn,” he argued, “If you’re on a train and I call you and ask, ‘where are you?’ what would you say?”

He had a point, but I didn’t concede. I felt that in order to say you’ve visited a state, you have to walk around and interact with it a little bit.

Now I’m pondering a similar question about defining something ambiguous for the purposes of keeping a tally. A few weeks ago I said I wanted to make or do 1000 creative things. But just what counts as a “creative thing”?

Is a single photograph sufficient? Sometimes I’ll see (or much more rarely, take) a photo that is striking and creative and seems to constitute an artistic achievement all by itself. Looking through my own photos, though, it’s hard to decide what the bar should be.

Is taking the photo enough, or should it be edited, displayed, and/or printed in order to count? What about a series of photographs? I’ve done a few themed series of photographs, and these seem to argue for inclusion in the goal.

So here’s my tentative criteria for photographic “creative thing” accomplishments:

  • themed collections of photos that I edit and post on this site
  • series of photos that I edit and share or display somehow, but which may not make it onto this site
  • individual photos that are not part of a series, but which I love enough to print and display offline

By those standards I’ll say I’m up to four. Just 996 left!

Oh, and I’ll try to do more with the sketchpad side of this as well. I used to love drawing, but I’ve kind of ignored it for, well, years.


2 thoughts on “Defining creativity

  1. mmmm…sounds like you’ve been reading some of Howard’s older posts on just such a subject, in similar vein, that has been dogging him for quite some time — It is a timeless and universal question and one that can only be answered by the asker, IMHO; this doesn’t add to the conversation I know…just my two cents worth, my Tweet! :< )

  2. I always say I had to DO something in that state, and it has to be more than just stopping at McDonald’s. I’ve driven through PA for 4 hours but I don’t count it. Ditto for Delaware and Rhode Island.

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