That’s Not Logical
“If you don't ask, "why this?" often enough, somebody will ask, "why you?" -Tom Hirshfield, Physicist
Where do you use soft and hard thinking? To answer this question, we should turn to the creative process. There are two main phases in the development of new ideas: an "imaginative" phase and a "practical" one. In the imaginative phase, you generate and play with ideas. In the practical phase, you evaluate and execute them. To use a biological metaphor, the imaginative phase sprouts the new ideas and the practical phase cultivates and harvests them. In the imaginative phase, you ask questions such as: What if? Why not? What rules can we break? What assumptions can we drop? How about if we looked at this backwards? Can we borrow a metaphor from another discipline? The motto of the imaginative phase is: "Thinking something different." In the practical phase, you ask questions such as: Is this idea any good? Do we have the resources to implement it? Is the timing right? Who can help us? What's the deadline? What are the consequences of not reaching the objective? The motto of the practical phase is: "Getting something done." Both types of thinking play an important role in the creative process, but usually during different phases.
Soft thinking is effective in the imaginative phase when you are searching for new ideas, and manipulating problems. Hard thinking, on the other hand, is best used in the practical phase when you are evaluating ideas, narrowing in on practical solutions, running risk-analyses, and preparing to carry the idea into action.
Logic is an important creative thinking tool. Its use is especially appropriate in the practical phase of the creative process when you are evaluating ideas and preparing them for action. When you're searching for and playing with ideas, however, excessive logical thinking can short-circuit your creative process. That's because the imaginative phase is governed by a different logic that is best described as metaphorical, fantastic, elliptical, and ambiguous. TIP: Remember, it's an illogical world. The glowworm isn't a worm. A firefly isn't a fly. The English horn isn't English (French) or a horn (woodwind). The Harlem Globetrotters didn't play a game in Harlem until they'd been playing for forty years. We name or refer to things not to be precise, but to grasp a sense of them.
Follow the Rules — Playing the revolutionary is easier said than done. One company president told me that his most difficult task is getting his subordinates to challenge the rules. He raises a good point. Why do people treat most problems and situations as closed ones with set rules, rather than as open ones that can be played with? One main reason is that there is a lot of pressure in our culture to "follow the rules." This value is one of the first things we learn as children. We are told such things as: "No orange elephants," and "Don't color outside the lines." Our educational system encourages further rule-following. Students are usually better rewarded for regurgitating information than for playing with ideas and thinking originally. As a consequence, people feel more comfortable following the rules than challenging them.
Challenging the rules is a good creative thinking strategy, but that's not all. Never challenging the rules brings with it at least two potential dangers. The first is you can get locked into one approach, method, or strategy without seeing that other approaches might be more appropriate. As a result, you may tailor your problems to the preconceptions that enable you to solve them that way. A second reason that the rules should be challenged is the "Aslan Phenomenon." It runs as follows:
1. We make rules based on reasons that make a lot of sense.
2. We follow these rules.
3. Time passes, and things change.
4. The original reasons for the generation of these rules may no longer exist, but because the rules are still in place, we continue to follow them.
Moral: Once a rule gets in place, it’s very difficult to eliminate even though the original reason for its generation has disappeared. Thus, creative thinking involves not only generating new ideas but escaping from obsolete ones as well.
A Whack on the Side of the Head
How You Can Be More Creative
Roger von Oech
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. “ -Aristotle
The Habits that Spark Your Creative Genius. Part V
'Harvesting Spark Moments to Yield Stimulating Outcomes
As time progresses, we mature, learn certain rules, and become conditioned in response to boundaries imposed by our parents, schools, friends, and workplaces. Over time we start to adjust — sometimes positively, sometimes negatively — our creative swing for life. When we are most in touch with our creative swing is when we feel that wonderful euphoric sensation associated with being stimulated. These are times when we feel most alive and excited because we are acting and responding in ways that are automatically aligned with our creative selves — our creative genius.
Although it is natural for us to create and maintain our authentic/creative genius, like the game of golf, it takes practice. Practice helps us to establish the highly specific routines and rituals that are necessary for sparking our creative genius. In other words, if we don't make the time, spend the time, and work toward disciplining ourselves in being stimulated, the odds are that our creative selves will atrophy and diminish. Just as with any good fitness program or diet, the key is to adhere to a set of habits that allows you to come into full possession of your creative genius.
From one person to the next: Your creative swing is different from the next person's. That's not only okay, it is also key to sustaining your own unique creative genius. Your swing, or how you express yourself creatively, is the core of your creative genius, and stimulus is the catalyst that helps spark novel and exciting paths. This allows you to tap into and experience that which you were born to create. The important thing is to understand and internalize that all the habits are interconnected and working together to help you in your creative journey. Sparking your creative genius is based on how well you practice each habit to find stimulus, play with stimulus, nurture the sparks into ideas, take risks based on your ideas, and then harvest ideas into productive and flowing "swings" resulting in innovations or creative solutions that help you (and others) personally and professionally.
Stimulated! Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius.
Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade
“The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion.
All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” - Richard Avedon
Are Photographs True? Part II of II
Does traditional photography get closer to the truth than do painting and other forms of representation? Do digital images falsify knowledge and undermine belief in photographs? This discussion is sometimes called the ontological debate, because it has to do with the philosophic nature of the photograph — its ontological status (what a photograph is) and what follows from how one conceives of a photograph.
DIGITAL IMAGES: The introduction of computer technology into photographic practices is cause for alarm to realists because they see it as threatening the reality base of photograph, which for them is the optical and chemical relationship between the camera and what it photographs. If the photograph's reality base is compromised, realists fear that the photograph's truth value is weakened or lost altogether. For conventionalists, the introduction of computer technology into photography is not alarming, but merely a continuation of practices that artists and photographers have invented and used throughout history to make expressive photographs.
There is something special about the photograph's relation to what is photographed, even when that information is adjusted with Photoshop. By means of computer-enhanced photographic technologies, we can see distant planets, the inside of a beating heart, a molecule that is a concept, and we can move through buildings which have not been built. Scientists invested in scientific truth don't fear computer-enhanced images: they use them. These image-enhancement processes combine art and science to turn digital data into images of scientific value and aesthetic beauty.
Journalists are now widely using digital technologies and, as they have since photography became available, continue to rely heavily on photographs to report on the world. Credibility is paramount for journalists, and whereas they have enjoyed the assumed credibility and authority of photographs in the past, they are aware that the possibilities of misusing digital processes can undermine society's implicit trust in the photograph. With the relative ease of manipulating photographs through computer technology, their fears of false but credible and influential images being circulated are justified. Some digitized photographs presented and accepted as journalistic or evidentiary photographs pose threats to photographic veracity.
Two journalistic examples are now notorious. On the February 1982 cover of National Geographic, editors visually shifted two pyramids closer together to better fit the vertical format of the magazine; Time's cover, June 27, 1994, about the arrest of 0. J. Simpson for the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, featured a digitized version of the Los Angeles Police Department's mug shot of Simpson. Time's illustrator, however, darkened Simpson's skin (dark skin implies more guilt than light skin?), to the outrage of many readers who interpreted the manipulation to be racist. The ability to convincingly alter photographs undermines image authentication in courts of law, the enforcement of missile-verification treaties, and other documentary uses of photographs.
In 1991, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), aware of emerging technology that enables "the manipulation of the content of an image in such a way that the change is virtually undetectable," adopted the following principle of photographic ethics: "As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy: therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public." The Nature Photography Association, however, does not have "any principle so strong," and instead embraces "poetic license." In 1996, exposés in the Denver Post and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer revealed that Art Wolfe fabricated photographs in his nature book, Migrations: "In about a third of the hook's images the wildlife — caribou, zebra, geese. Greater sandhill cranes-had been digitally enhanced, and some had been digitally cloned and multiplied."
Examples of manipulations of photographs prior to digital technology are plentiful in the history of photography. Manipulations of two kinds are available: altering the subject matter before photographing it to suit the photographer's purposes, and distorting photographic negatives or prints after initial exposures have been made. Renowned nature photographer Eliot Porter was a purist and was opposed to changing the environment to photograph it, but did uncomfortably admit that he occasionally moved a stone or feather or piece of driftwood to improve a picture. John Rohrbach, custodian of Porter collection at the Amon Carter Museum, showed a photograph of Porter hacking away at a cactus to get a picture of a roadrunner nest. Paul Strand was also a purist, but Rohrbach has prints in which Strand drew in manholes or etched out people to balance his compositions. In the 1970s, Ansel Adams began removing "random clouds" in Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941, one of the most acclaimed photographs of the twentieth century, made within the realist, straight aesthetic.
A story of how one Life magazine cover came about is illustrative of the point: An editor in Manhattan imagined a photograph of a leopard and its kill in a tree backlit by a setting sun. "The photographer set off in quest of this vision, traveling the East African savanna for weeks with a captive leopard, killing antelopes, draping the carcasses in the branches of various (horn trees, and cajoling the leopard to lie proudly on the kill, a tableau that the photographer shot against a succession of setting suns."
Former Disney cameraman Tad Nichols told another story about working on Disney's movie The Living Desert, most of which was shot on a huge table, set up in a sound stage. For the film's famous sequence of lemming suicide, Disney workers bulldozed lemmings off cliffs. Brower recalls how Disney filmmakers made a documentary of a hawk killing a flying squirrel: "Assistant grip stands on tall stepladder with pouch of flying squirrels. Grip tosses squirrels — unpaid rodent extras — skyward one by one, as in a skeet shoot, until trained hawk, after dozens of misses, finally gels it right."