[ISEA2011] Panel: Simon Biggs – The Cre­ative Im­per­a­tive

Panel Statement

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.