Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boosting Creativity

No, not with coffee.

Been mulling over an interesting article reposted on BoingBoing: The British Psychological Society has published research on how horizontal eye movement exercises strengthen bilateral stimulation between the hemispheres:

"The key finding is that on their second creativity attempt, strong-handers who'd performed the horizontal eye movements subsequently showed a significant improvement in their creativity, in terms of being more original (i.e. suggesting ideas not proposed by others) and coming up with more categories of use. Staring straight ahead, by contrast, had no effect on creativity."

This means there's no reason to get paranoid about any shifty-eyed students in class, as they are actually just getting their creative juices flowing. And as I've long suspected, the ones staring ahead blankly into space are really fighting for consciousness. I'm also thinking this new theory would account for why taking long, aimless drives is one of the more inspirational methods of random techniques in free-association I employ. Doesn't really do much for any passengers, mind you, especially the whole weaving-around-while-jotting-down-ideas thing. And you thought texting while driving was bad... just kidding.

Unfortunately the researchers go on to effectively disqualify folks who are already "highly creative," and stress that this won't make anybody an artist. It seems this is more of a shoring up the urban myth on right-versus-left-handedness as far as possible indicator of creativity. That ranks right up there with another personal fave: the link between insanity and artistic genius...
"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process." - Vincent van Gogh

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, today was another work-in-progress day, the record-breaking third day of this semester where it was basically an "open studio." This is a little bit of a breather for the students to take a chance and either catch up on reworks for the looming portfolio, and/or get a bit ahead on the next project. Since the upcoming critique is comparatively "complicated" it's usually proven to be worth the loss of in-class lesson time to put an investment of effort into their three pages. Plus it affords me the opportunity to monitor progress and give individual attention where needed.

I also blurred the line between work and job by doing another demo panel on sketching/inking technique, shown here in both vectored and wash versions. Funny thing was that while doing the drawing I was sitting at a flat table with different posture than normal, and to my dismay and amusement of others, after standing up and reviewing the finished panel it was noticeably warped out into a totally screwed-up perspective. Yeesh, talk about instilling confidence in one's instructor: fail. Next class I'll throw up the digitally tweaked one as a comparison, and a meta-lesson that all is not necessarily lost with anything.

And speaking of meta-lessons, we got to hear excerpts on the radio from the Sarah Palin's Oprah interview, and it was a good bonus opening to mention how art can be very effective at speaking truth to power by getting a message out in the media in a visual way, which with the right image and the right connections can get you some excellent exposure. I used the recent Palin panels as a case-in-point: between the reposting of one on multiple websites and another that ran in yesterday's newspaper, and maybe 100+k views, it's a good example of how some schmuck in a cabin in the middle of the woods can have a disproportionate amount of say in current events. Not influence, just another damn opinion.

Yesterday I got an email inquiry forwarded from the art department that the Office of the Chancellor was interested in some of the student pen & ink pieces up in the hallway showcases (see pic below). No, not to buy of course, just display in the hallowed chambers of academia. It's been like ping-pong - now the counter-offer is for them to cough up funds to matte + frame the originals, which I want to see the students keep along when their artwork is eventually returned as a sort of reward, but the latest was the idea to recycle the frames with other new works in the future when the display gets rotated. If that's the case maybe by then someone will notice some shifty-eyed person got the idea to swap in xeroxes instead...

"Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death." - R. D. Laing

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