[ISEA2011] Panel: Scott Ret­tberg & Simon Biggs (moderators) – Creativity as a Social Ontology

Panel Statement

Chair Per­sons: Scott Ret­tberg & Simon Biggs                                                                              Pre­sen­ters: Ruth Cat­low, James Leach, Talan Mem­mott & Jill Walker Ret­tberg

Whilst cre­ativ­ity is often per­ceived as the prod­uct of the in­di­vid­ual artist, or cre­ative en­sem­ble, it can also be con­sid­ered an emer­gent phe­nom­e­non of com­mu­ni­ties, dri­ving change and fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­di­vid­ual or en­sem­ble cre­ativ­ity. Cre­ativ­ity can be a per­for­ma­tive ac­tiv­ity re­leased when en­gaged through and by a com­mu­nity and un­der­stood as a process of in­ter­ac­tion. The model of the soli­tary artist, pro­duc­ing arte­facts that em­body cre­ativ­ity, can be con­tested as the ideal method to achieve cre­ative out­comes. The propo­si­tion is that cre­ativ­ity is an ac­tiv­ity of ex­change that en­ables peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties. We do not pro­pose cre­ativ­ity as in­stru­men­tal, aris­ing from a per­ceived need and seek­ing to de­liver a so­lu­tion or prod­uct, nor as a sup­ply-side “blue skies” ideal, but as an emer­gent prop­erty of com­mu­ni­ties. John Searle de­fines so­cial on­tol­ogy as “both cre­ated by human ac­tions and at­ti­tudes but at the same time (hav­ing) an epis­tem­i­cally ob­jec­tive ex­is­tence and … part of the nat­ural world”. Our propo­si­tion is that so­cial on­tol­ogy, the space of in­ter­ac­tions where in­di­vid­u­als and col­lec­tives shape one an­other, ex­ists as an au­topoiesis, an emer­gent cre­ative space. The In­ter­net has been an agent of change in the way we com­mu­ni­cate and share in­for­ma­tion and it has sub­se­quently af­fected the man­ner in which com­mu­ni­ties form. The ad­vent of Web 2.0 has fa­cil­i­tated a ma­te­ri­al­i­sa­tion of the in­ter­net as a so­cial space. As both an aug­ment­ing and rep­re­sen­ta­tional tech­nol­ogy, the in­ter­net al­lows in­sight into how these processes un­fold. In­di­vid­u­als and col­lec­tives can now emerge, shift and shape them­selves within the dy­namic com­mu­ni­ca­tions spaces (pro­to­cols) that de­fine what we now un­der­stand the in­ter­net to be, each pos­sess­ing a dis­tinc­tive dis­cur­sive and on­to­log­i­cal char­ac­ter. Elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture and the dig­i­tal arts are ex­em­plary of cre­ative prac­tices that cross media and cul­tural di­vides. The media em­ployed by prac­ti­tion­ers in these do­mains are in­trin­si­cally con­ver­gent, tech­ni­cally and cul­tur­ally. These prac­ti­tion­ers are often highly tech­ni­cally lit­er­ate and, in some in­stances, have con­tributed to the de­vel­op­ment of the tech­nolo­gies that they, and oth­ers, em­ploy. Prac­ti­tion­ers work­ing in these fields have often de­vel­oped their aims and meth­ods through in­ter­act­ing with one an­other within on­line cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties.

  • Scott Ret­tberg, the pro­ject leader of ELM­CIP (Elec­tronic Lit­er­a­ture as a Model of Cre­ativ­ity and In­no­va­tion in Prac­tice), is as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of Dig­i­tal Cul­ture at the Uni­ver­sity of Bergen (N). Ret­tberg is the co­founder of the Elec­tronic Lit­er­a­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion, served as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s first ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor from 1999-2001, and was a co-ed­i­tor of the Elec­tronic Lit­er­a­ture Col­lec­tion, Vol. 1. He is the coau­thor of The Un­known, a Hy­per­text Novel (1998-2001) and The Un­known, an An­thol­ogy (2002), and the au­thor of Kind of Blue (2003), a se­r­ial novel for email. Ret­tberg has a Ph.D. in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­sity of Cincin­nati, USA, an M.A. in Fic­tion Writ­ing from Illi­nois State Uni­ver­sity, USA and a B.A. in Eng­lish and Phi­los­o­phy from Coe Col­lege, USA.
  • Simon Biggs is a vi­sual artist born in Aus­tralia, 1957. He moved to the UK in 1986. Since 1978 Biggs has been work­ing with dig­i­tal and in­ter­ac­tive sys­tems in in­stal­la­tion, net­worked and other media. Venues pre­sent­ing his work in­clude Tate Mod­ern, Whitechapel, In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Arts (Lon­don), Ikon (Birm­ing­ham), Cen­tre de Georges Pom­pi­dou, Acad­emy de Kun­ste and Kul­tur­fo­rum (Berlin), Rijksmu­seum Twen­the, Macau Arts Mu­seum, Cam­er­a­works (San Fran­cisco), Walker Art Cen­ter, Paco des Artes (Sao Paulo), Museo OI (Rio De Janeiro), Mc­Dougall Art Gallery (Christchurch), Ex­per­i­men­tal Art Foun­da­tion (Ade­laide) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He has been keynote at nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences, most re­cently at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity’s 2010 an­nual So­ci­ety for the Hu­man­i­ties Con­fer­ence. Pub­li­ca­tions in­clude Au­topoei­sis (with James Leach, Art­words, 2004), Halo (Film and Video Um­brella, 1998), Mag­net (Mc­Dougall Art Gallery, 1997) and CD-ROMs Book of Shad­ows and Great Wall of China (El­lip­sis, 1996 and 1999). He is Pro­fes­sor at Ed­in­burgh Col­lege of Art, UK.