What is creativity? Although the subject is broad, we tend to define it in terms of the arts. The way that creativity is presented to us in various forms (primarily digital), suggests that everyone is either a budding artist, or that we all have an inherent desire to realise aesthetically pleasing concepts. This only serves to reinforce the idea that if you have no interest in the arts or can’t draw ‘well’ (capturing what you see accurately), then you aren’t very ‘creative’.
In addition to this, left-brain/right-brain myths have become deeply engrained in our minds due to their personification as two types of people: there are the ‘creative’ people who dedicate their lives to music, dance, art, design, photography, storytelling and endless possibilities; and then there are the ‘logical’ people who serve the needs of process, rationality, science and hard facts. It is interesting to note that the concept of left-brain/right-brain in popular culture largely has roots in the media impact of Dr. Gazzaniga and Dr. Sperry’s groundbreaking findings of cognitive difference in parts of the brain in the 60’s and 70’s, whilst treating epilepsy patients. Their conclusions on each hemisphere’s innate characteristics were heavily redacted by the press, in particular The New York Times, whose article ‘We Are Left-Brained or Right Brained’, opened as follows:
“Two very different persons inhabit our heads, residing in the left and right hemispheres of our brains, the twin shells that cover the central brain stem. One of them is verbal, analytic, dominant. The other is artistic…”
Left-brain/right-brain myths have been emphatically debunked since then, most recently by Neil DeGrasse-Tyson who explores the collision between science and pop culture in his latest TV show, Star Talk (first broadcast in May this year). What’s even more interesting, is that the very same Dr. Gazzaniga who unwittingly kick-started the whole phenomenon, has also been attempting to shut down these myths with his book, ‘Tales from Both Sides of the Brain’, also out this year. Nevertheless, despite all of this effort on their part and in countless other publications, the notion of the ‘creative’ and the ‘logical’ as two separate identities has been firmly solidified in popular thought. There are countless online quizzes that attest to that (so I won’t just blame Buzzfeed).
Of course, if we really had to sit down and ponder it a little more, we’d come to the conclusion that it’s pretty difficult to be exclusively one or the other, but we don’t. And why should we? It forms the basis of how we stand out from everybody else and how each day is different from another. But all too often we get caught up in the monotony of life, often ignoring the ways that allow us to fulfil our potential (not necessarily creative) and losing interest in opportunities that we label as either too ‘creative’ or ‘process-driven’ for our abilities.
It is with this context in mind that I am carrying out a project at BAMM to explore the concept of ‘Everyday Creativity’. By embarking on this project, what I want to know is what creativity looks like, not on a big scale, where we start comparing ourselves to painters and musicians, but on a much more mundane basis. This project is about finding out what the function of Everyday Creativity is in our daily lives and how it helps us to put our own stamp on the world as we experience it. I’ll be posting updates on the project, but in the meantime please check out our Tumblr where we are collecting different examples of Everyday Creativity – and feel free to post your own!