Panel: Creativity as a Social Ontology
Expanded concepts of agency permit us to question what or who can be an active participant in creative activity, allowing us to revisit the debate on authorship. We can ask whether creativity might be regarded as a form of social interaction. How might we understand creativity as the interaction of people and things rather than as an outcome of action? 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 group creativity. Creativity may be regarded as a performative activity released when engaged through and by a community and thus understood as a process of interaction. In this context the model of the solitary artist, producing artifacts that embody creativity, is questioned as an ideal for achieving creative outcomes. Instead, creativity is proposed as an activity of exchange that enables (creates) people and communities. The creation of new things, and the forms of exchange enacted around them, can function to “create” not just things but also people, binding them in social groups and “creating” the community they inhabit. It thus becomes possible to conceive of creativity as emergent from and innate to the interactions of people and to consider the gift-economy as fundamental to social formation. Such an understanding can function to combat the dominant instrumentalist view of creativity, that demands of artists that their creations have social (e.g.: “economic”) value. This contribution to the panel discussion will seek to engage these themes and concepts in the context of how online communities of creative practitioners form and interact.
- 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.