Thursday, April 16, 2009

Evolving ideas

I wrote this before I left for my mini vacation when I discovered I could schedule it to post by changing the post time under post options. Imagine that!

In research on characteristics of creative people , the pattern of one idea leading to another features prominently; it is referred to as evolution. This is the method of incremental improvement where new ideas or solutions grow from previous ones. Constant incrementation of ideas accounts for many of the discoveries in the world. Other "thinking"characteristics work in concert with the evolution of new ideas from old. They include:
  • willingness to try new things/take risks
  • ability to see relationships and make mental leaps
  • curiosity about new things
  • broad interests in many unrelated areas
I see evidence of evolution (of ideas) in every aspect of my life, but especially in my art practice. I can use my last post about the use of a vintage post card in a mixed media work as an example of how you can move along with an idea. Originally postcards were a logical extension of my interest in memory, passage of time, culture, identity and family connections. I didn't think much beyond them as an example. If I want to build on this topic/idea there are strategies I can use to increase the number and range of responses.

1. Brainstorming is a great way to see where an idea can go. Here are my thoughts on postcards:

  • art of the ordinary person
  • intimate in scale
  • inexpensive, economical
  • commercial
  • thin cardboard
  • travels
  • special events
  • photo size (4x6)
  • used across cultures
  • souvenirs
  • transportable
  • topic based
  • not age specific
  • long history of use
  • nostalgic
  • present positive views
  • collectible
  • sites of interest
  • messages
  • public
2. Sort and re-sort
Create a list of words (as above), phrases or drawings from you random thoughts, look for connections and sort your ideas, then resort. One way is to write all your random thoughts or scribblings on sticky notes and continually rearrange them. You might want to record your connections. This usually yields general themes. My list above could be sorted into characteristics, uses, types, etc.

3. Extend categories

Then try to generate new ideas under each general heading. E.g. uses (exhibition announcements, used for political advocacy, humour, etc. )

4. Extend your list
Give more examples or ask questions.

  • art of the ordinary person (is there a way to make them elite?)
  • two sided
  • intimate in scale (is it still a postcard if the size changes? )
  • inexpensive, economical (make them precious, expensive)
  • commercial (create personal, one of a kind postcards)
  • thin cardboard (what other formats are possible? canvas, small boxes, video, puzzle format, metal)
  • travels
  • special events
  • photo size (4x6) (what about same content in large sizes, same impact?, no longer economical or intimate, use of video? )
  • used across cultures (examine styles of postcards across cultures- ideas for styles?)
  • souvenirs
  • transportable (what happens when you alter the size?)
  • topic based
  • not age specific
  • long history of use
  • nostalgic (political, spiritual)
  • present positive views (pose questions, highlight significant issues)
  • sorted and labelled
  • sites of interest
  • messages
  • public
5. Research beyond your ideas
This is where you link with the ideas of others. Be careful here because there is a fine line between copying and extending.

From web research, the traditional idea of postcard is certainly extended.

See various definitions of postcards on the web.

Then there is the world of Mail art where artists enter into the fray.

Video postcards accompany music, illustrate family vacations, show interesting places that are fun and real.

The history of postcards is traced back to 1490 when a medieval nun sent one leaf painting of Saint Barbara to another nun.

It seems the word postcard is part of many song titles with my personal favourite - Mark Knophler, Postcard from Paraguay . Check out many more on YouTube.

Visual art and the postcard

The postcard has been used by artists for many years to create various kinds of art. See the connection British artists Gilbert and George have to postcards.

Art of the Japanese Postcard was presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Themes in Japanese postcards are categorized and samples are presented.

Postsecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a post card. Very interesting...

Julianna Parr uses the postcard as a legitimate artistic medium. See her Time Stamp: A Diary in Postcards 1998-2008. This is the passage of time charted through visual imagery and much commitment .

And finally there are a half million hits on Google images for postcard art.

And yes.... this post has helped me come up with an idea for new work for a summer show I am in. Now I have to get busy creating!

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