Exegesis – Creative Project

The idea of creativity as discovered in the unit Creativity: Theory, History and Practice is depended on many factors including the definition of creativity adopted by the individual and in which context  it is considered.Subjectivity of creativity and the process practiced in relation to my creative project gave me a variety of opportunity to ruminate and discover the many avenues of choice offered by the creativity unit. What elements of theory chosen and how it relates to the creative project are what I would like to clarify in this exegesis, beginning with my choice of definition for creativity.

Reviewing the multitude of definitions for creativity and its evolution over time,  its contemporary definition dependent on which tradition you draw upon, my choice would be rather simple and concise. ‘The process of bringing something new to birth'( May, 1959) was one of many definitions outlined by Mark McMahon in his lecturer entitled ‘What is Creativity?’Along the the way many other definitions were to arise but I found this appealing in its simplicity and relevance to my personal view. This was an appropriate meaning to my creative project as I was taking a new idea and through a process of creative thinking was giving artistic birth to a series of photographic works. The creative theory was the driving force behind the choices made in the creative project and I shall look at each theory in turn and how it affected my creative choices in the process.

John Harman’s lecture pointed out five rules of creativity which was the basis for the project. The first step of preparation was linked to the idea of process. Process was the idea of how we generate ideas in goals reached in creativity and the limits on practice. So decisions had to be made about the creative limitations of time,cost, and environment chosen to begin the project. Limiting the environment to my personal domain and execution of the project in the same environment created limitations in how the project could go ahead. However the limits set did give me creative impetice by focusing me to be creative within the tight framework. My choice of lighting setup which was a simple black curved backdrop and one adjustable light source although limiting , did give cohesion to the images. Preparation is about knowing your craft and because photography has played a large role in my creativity throughout the years I was confident in handling this media and any problems that might arise technically.

The next step in the rules of creativity is concentration. Thinking of the idea was challenging. I focused on what I wanted to achieve from this creative process through a series of brainstorming ideas and trying to not discard anything no matter how ‘left of field’ it seemed. Keeping a childlike curiosity to the concepts was key. What I discovered was that I didn’t want to have a set series of works but a more investigative process to allow things to occur throughout. Having the limitations set gave rise to the idea of multiple images of different objects. What the objects would be was the next process in my creative project.This led to the next rule of creativity, namely incubation.

Through the period of incubation I ruminated on the defining framework of my project and relevant theories which drove it. Gestalts laws of grouping the objects and analogical thinking were key to finding a way to express my creativity. I Realised that in my personal domain there were objects I had chosen and others presented to me which reflected my interests. What friends and family had presented to me along with personally chosen objects were interesting ideas to photograph and process in my creative investigation. By placing the objects outside of the context of were they are positioned in my personal environment and regrouping them in a staged setup was a way of re-contextualising the objects. The process of analogical thinking began. The idea of grouping them and in which way was a process Gestalt laws of proximity, similarity and common fate. The idea that a grouping of objects together creates patterns of association which the viewer then interprets them as belonging together was critical in deciding which objects to place together. In turn this would give a subjective and ambiguous image to view.

Using the above creative theory and process gave rise to the next rule of creativity, illumination.The creative theory of preconscious activity as outlined by Lawrence Kubie was the impetus needed to continue my creative project. The idea of using my conscious and unconscious mind in the placement of objects to give ambiguous meaning, and freewheeling the associated choice of objects illuminated my idea that the images should be numbered and not titled. I felt that to truly interact with the viewer in selecting  which image was best suited to the subtly intended purpose as outlined in each photo session the image being numbered would override the connections or associations a title would give. With this in mind I invited the viewer to select there preference and used the transliminal chamber of thought in my object and placement choice, I was interested in engaging the onlooker with the investigative process. At the end of each session I chose an image that I felt achieved the creative process desired and then asked the viewer to choose from a slide show of twenty images in total which they felt was creatively relevant to the points discussed in the photo session. I must note that the writings for each shoot was intentionally ethereal in content and ambiguous in nature. This was to remove as much subjectivity as possible within the constraints that all creative ideas and interpretations would be subjective. This process of participation and creative engagement finally led to the final rule of creativity, verification.

Verification occurred throughout the creative process through the confidence in what I was selecting to do and the learning from that experience. Throughout the process I discovered that another element of theory entered the milieu, the aspects of creative flow in the creative environment I had created. As Csikszentmihali points out  there are nine aspects associated with flow. All of these aspects were experienced through the creative project undertaken. In particular clear goals every step of the way, action and awareness emerged, self-conscious disappearing, distortion of time and  enjoyment of the activity was an autotelic function.

Was it exotelic in the end? I think my goals of the investigative qualities behind the creative project was successful. The ability to engage with this process encourages me to further investigate this project in the future, by utilising the process  with other media to fulfill my ongoing investigation of creativity its history, theories and processes in context of  my artistic practice.


Davis, G. A. (2004). Creative inspiration through analogical thinking. Creativity is forever (pp. 145-170). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendall/Hunt.

Davis, G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendall/Hunt.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The Flow of Creativity. Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovert and invention (pp. 107-126). New York: HarperCollins.

Harman, J. (2011). Personal Creative Process: John Harman.

McMahon, M. (2011).What is Creativity? Lecture given Edith Cowan University, Mt.Lawley campus. March 4th, 2011.


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Reading this has given me a much better understanding of what I have to write up in my exegesis. Similar to a design brief, but not totally the same. Thanks to this post I understand it much better.

Comment by Mitch

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