Thursday, July 18, 2013

Creative Intelligence and Being an Artist

In Creative Intelligence, Bruce Nussbaum lays out what he calls the five competencies of creative intelligence:

1. Knowledge Mining
2. Framing
3. Playing
4.Making
5. Pivoting

The last one is the movement from creating to making, which emphasizes the fact that having a great idea isn't enough. You have to follow up on that great idea and actually make something.

All of these are features of every great artist who has ever existed. Great poets have read the great poets, and even memorized many of their poems. All artists engage in framing. Art is play (a nonserious thing done seriously). And the artist has to move from conception to making, and actually make the work.

One could make the argument that every team whose purpose is to be creative really needs a poet, a playwright, a painter, a sculptor, a musician, etc. on their team to keep the team thinking as truly creative people think, and to keep the moving on to turning the ideas into things.

I will note in particular that Nussbaum's "framing" is something people involved in theater ought to find of interest. Nussbaum says there are three kinds of framing:

1. Narrative Framing, or "how we interpret the world" (35)
2. Engagement Framing, or "how we interact with each other" (35)
3. What-If Framing, or "how we imagine the unthinkable to innovate beyond our wildest dreams" (35)

The first, Narrative Framing, should be of obvious interest to people involved in theater. However, plays are staged, and thus, how people interact with each other is also vitally important. How many playwrights leave those decisions to the director and/or actors? How much could/should playwrights think about their Engagement Framing? And finally, one of the primary roles of any artist, playwright included, is the creation of What-If scenarios. What else is narrative art but What-If scenarios, designed to teach us how to behave (or not behave) in a variety of situations (Engagements).

In a sense, these are all things every artist understands -- but it is sometimes beneficial to have such things made explicit, to think about what it is we are really doing as artists.
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