R&D 12 | Creativity Uncertainty

Danny May's Shed gallery at The Centre for Alternative Technology

Creativity uncertainty.

By Ben Lloyd.

Last summer in Danny May’s shed-gallery installation at the Centre for Alternative Technology, we had found ourselves discussing art process rather than product, and agreeing on non-objective creative tasks for ourselves. Our aim was to freely experiment, to see what happened and where that took us. Much later whilst writing about the idea of the creative process for my PGCE I was reminded of those conversations, specifically whether creativity could be taught, learnt or assessed. And when I reached the following sentence it got me straight back to that time spent collaborating with Danny –

“Belluigi places particular emphasis on the importance of ‘uncertainty’ in the enabling of creativity (2013: 4).  Whilst this notion of ‘uncertainty’ is not something that can be conventionally taught, she explains that the learner should engage in heuristic tasks without specific outcomes or objectives and develop a feeling of confidence within this uncertainty (Belluigi, 2013, 4-5).”

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I mulled Belluigi’s comments over whilst thinking of the collaboration, then scanning through previous posts on this blog, I noticed Danny’s statements such as “I’d like to think of this as a methodology towards thinking out of the box” and his desire to be “..one step removed from the creative process”.  In fact, throughout there are quite a few similar comments, which are further corroborated by how he expressed the project theme in person. Generally, as an artists he has a tendency to focus on the product, the outcome; i.e. to design the thing and then make the thing according to that design. So this project was been all about him stepping away from a design and make format, toward a more spontaneous creative uncertainty.  

Inviting uncertainty into the artistic process is certainly more in line with our previous blog-post comments on Surrealism and a step away from the design/make process.  In fact, as I think of it, the Automatic method of Surrealism is the antithesis of the design/make process.. And as Andre Breton states, “Pure psychic automatism, by which one seeks to express, is the real working of the mind. Dictated by the unconsciousness, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, and free from aesthetic or moral preoccupations.”

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I believe there previously has been a struggle between,what he identifies as these imbalances in his practice, being design on one hand and free unconscious thought on the other.  Perhaps, to me the point is they don’t need to struggle and they don’t need to be opposites. And also, perhaps they both have a place it’s just about knowing when and where to utilise them. I think the work that was made on the R&D project did just that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to what comes next.

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Belluigi, D. Z. (2013) ‘A proposed schema for the conditions of creativity in fine art studio practice’. International Journal of Education and the Arts.  Available at: http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=037a62e5-766c-4d11-98d2-f6e9d5479dae%40sessionmgr4005&vid=29&hid=4101 [Accessed: 27th January 2016].

Breton, A. (1929) Manifesto du Surréalisme. Paris, Editions KRA.


This blog-post forms a part of an Arts council funded ‘Research and Development’ project.

The artists involved are Daniel May, working in collaboration with the Ben Lloyd

This project is sponsored by The Arts Council of Wales

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