Welcome to Emerging Futures -- Volume 117! Resources for an Experimental Reimagining of Creativity...
Good Morning feet-striving-to-elevate-off-of-cold-floors upon awakening,
This week we are moving into the winter holiday phase of the year. We got our first snow of the season this week – don’t go getting all excited for us – it was the briefest of moments (eleven minutes, to be specific) and is long gone! But, as a feeling of transition, it is wonderful. These days, the fire is lit of an evening and the smell of hearty cooking fills the apartment. In fact, walking through the neighborhood of an evening – the smells of diverse dinners wafting out into the streets conjure worlds of joy.
In terms of our work, we ran the first test of our new probing and prototyping workshop this week. It is something we are really excited about. The goal of this workshop is to give participants a genuine experience of an emergent, enactive creative process where novel ideas co-emerge with the process of making. We are consciously making it to be an antidote to all the workshops (including some of ours) that focus on large sheets of paper, markers, sticky notes, tokens, game pieces, and conceptual discussions. We will be refining it over the next couple of months and then testing it out in the spring at a couple of conferences and actual workshops. We will keep you in the loop as things evolve.
If you’re looking for a good book to read over the holiday break, perhaps consider Innovating Emergent Futures - it’s 30% off for newsletter subscribers The holiday discount ends Monday, December 11. Use promo code HOLI2023 at the checkout before it’s too late!
After this week we are going to pause our current series that has been developing a meta-view and visualization techniques for creativity. We are excited, going all in on the holidays, and we have lined up a set of great celebratory newsletters with gifts, gift suggestions, best of series, and a year in review.
In the new year, we will return to continue this meta-creativity series. The focus will shift to dive deep into the meta processes involved in the emergence of disruptive and transformative creative processes – towards “that fresh, undigested, bitter taste of newness…” as Michel Tournier so beautifully put it. Our focus then will be on how to play with assemblages via exaptive probing towards developing feedforward cycles. But that is all still to come!
This meta-creativity series began with Volume 114: New Tools for Visualizing Creative Practices. Here we introduced a way of visually conceptualizing creative processes and how the various concepts (self, taskspace, environment, assemblage, apparatus, co-emergent processes, self-organization, the field of the possible, actualization, etc.) are all connected. We are strong believers in the power of developing visual languages and tools and this newsletter is a special one for us in how it synthesizes previous visual languages into one meta-process.
Volume 115: Tools for engaging reality from the perspective of Creativity. At the end of Volume 114, we asked you for feedback on our visual language – and did we ever get some great bits. In Volume 115, we discussed this feedback and modified our diagrams.
Volume 116: The Virtual Fields of Creativity. Now, Volumes 114 and 115 were highly abstract, so in Volume 116, we got concrete and worked through the whole process with the example of one seemingly mundane creative act: the invention of the stirrup. With this example, we walked through the ongoing processes of reality from the perspective of Assemblages, Affordances, and Agency.
This week, we are focused on the broad interdisciplinary scope of relevant resources for the development of a meta view of creative processes and their visualization.
With most of our previous newsletters that have focused on resources for a particular creativity topic, we have almost exclusively made book recommendations. Now, there is nothing wrong with books, and there is also nothing wrong with the ever increasing pile of books we buy that we have, as yet, not got around to reading. After all, the unknown – the new – should always be significantly larger and more present in our lives than the known (and the read).
But – it is the holidays, and so for this newsletter, we are going to try a slightly different strategy and focus on other forms of visual information (drawings and diagrams) and auditory sources – talks, presentations, podcasts etc.
What are the stories images tell? How can we read/experiment beyond the word? Diagrams are never neutral, nor are they created equal. How, as a creativity research community, can we develop some of the diagrammatic tools that we use?
The important Enactivist Researcher and Theorist Ezequiel Di Paolo gave a wonderful talk on this subject: Arrows that Come and Go: Picturing Organisms and Their Environments. We have watched this several times, and while it can sound/seem obscure, it is really helpful in thinking about creative processes and how we represent them.
What is a line? What is a map? How can we diagram an encounter? An event? A moment of creative becoming? In the late 1960s, Fernand Deligny created a support network for Autistic Children in southern France. As part of his collaborative experimental practice with this community, he developed a tracing/mapping practice that allows the non-verbal movements and activities to gain a common space. As Sandra Alvarez de Toledo says in the introduction: “from these maps emerges a life force, the sensation of a space/time traversed by singular emotions and animated by the presence of individuals on the look-out…” This book presents over three hundred of these diagrams/maps in a unique layout, alongside a helpful glossary and images from the site. It is a remarkable book of diagrams, and we return to it often (and have framed some of them to keep them vibrating in our daily visual field). This work is important in its own right, additionally, it had a big influence on both Deleuze and Guattari as well (as our own work). Check it out: Cartes et Lignes D’erre / Maps and Wander Lines by Fernand Deligny.
Deleuze’s work is a critical touchstone to many, many new approaches to creative processes. He saw himself as a metaphysician of a creative reality. Here are three fun and useful videos/podcasts.
This is what Deleuze recorded near the end of his life to be shown on French TV after his death. It is a series of questions put to him by his long-time friend, collaborator, and journalist Claire Parnet. There are twenty-six questions (one for each letter of the alphabet). There is so much that is helpful here in regard to creativity (and cats). Note: there is also a transcript of these.
Frida Beckman has written a wonderful biography of Deleuze that connects life and work in a creative and experimental manner. In this podcast she reflects on this work. It makes for a good introduction to Deleuze.
Perhaps the key work of Deleuze in regard to the question of creativity is Difference and Repetition. This is a notoriously difficult book (but certainly worth the effort). Todd May, a Deleuze scholar, some years ago presented a short course on this in Denmark that was conveniently recorded. It makes for a quite helpful introduction and overview of this work.
We have been really enjoying listening to this series on Enaction and the history of the development of the enactive approach to cognition (that cognition is embodied, extended, embedded, and enactive) from the Mind and Life Europe Institute (an organization dedicated to continuing the work of Francisco Varela).
Agency is a critical concept in regard to re-imagining creativity. While we have written at greater length about the related concepts of assemblages and affordances – we have written less directly about agency.
One critical issue with understanding agency is that far too often, it is mistakenly ascribed to individuals and things – but agency is properly speaking the property of a relation – never a thing. Here in this wonderful contrarian presentation, the anthropologist Tim Ingold offers a visually astute critical take on agency, assemblage theory, and new-materialism.
Another philosopher/historian of science who has been critical to our thinking about creativity is Karen Barad. Here is a really wonderful talk that they recently gave at Barnard.
Well! We know from experience that this is enough to darn all the socks, chop all the wood, as well as do the dishes, and have time to nap with the cats! We hope that you enjoy the listening and watching, and we will catch up with you next Friday!
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