I Am Not Creative

person recording a cat with a camera on a tripod

“I am not creative”

Often the answer is “anyone CAN be creative….” followed by some proposed remedial technique.

But, this framing of creativity as a discrete skill or attribute one can, or is born, possessing is misguided.

To be alive is to always be actively involved in creative processes. The “simple” act of sensing – perceiving is already an inherantly active creative process.

But, perception is often framed as, and even experienced as, a PASSIVE activity – much like a camera, it is imagined that we just gaze out at things and representations form in our heads from the data received. We then internally conceive of a response – for creatively endowed individuals this will be more innovative and for people who are not creative it will be more generic. We then act on this internal idea and things happen.

But is perception and sensing in general passive? One answer, using this model, is to say no – that the brain plays a far more active and creative role – basically it creates what you see. Now, in this scenario you have the same model (camera, brain, world, etc.) but the world is not only passive but might just be an illusion.

These models could not be further from the reality of perception.

Perception is a CREATIVE achievement that involves an active embodied subject engaging with an equally active environment. What it perceives is what this relationship “affords”. Because of our embodied abilities meeting aspects of the environment, what we sense/percieve emerges from the middle. This is not the work of a passive camera but the meeting of an embodied subject and an active environment. Perception – or what are called “affordances” arise from the middle.

Perceptions or “affordances are intelligible only in terms of both the abilities of animals, including perceptual abilities, and the features of the environment. So, they really are both mental and physical.” JJ Gibson.

This is an ongoing co-creative activity where perception is a situated achievement – an outcome of a creative process so to speak. It is one all of us all the time are collaboratively engaged in. To sense is to creatively co-make a meaningful perceivable world. We might not consider ourselves “creative” but as living beings we are fated to be creative – co-creative. And all of our other forms of “creativity” emerge from and build upon this lived reality of ongoing co-creative sense-making.

on What Is Innovation, and How to Innovate

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