The New Creativity: Man and Machines, curated by Sylvia Lavin with the UCLA Curatorial Project, challenges the entire notion of creativity. On view at the MAK Center through August 16, the exhibition examines creative practice and its relationship to technology and human agency. Lavin described to the Forum what it means to be creative today.
What’s the relationship between man and machine in architectural practice?
Creative practices have always been inseparable from the social and technical complexes that support and constrain them. In the Renaissance, all the arts — architecture no less than and no more than the others — were represented by tools. Chisels, brushes, and compasses were the machines of the day.
As the concept of art became increasingly autonomous, more and more structures and concepts were developed to separate the producer from his tools. The studio, the genius, and the sketch, to name just a few, are all mechanisms used to construct the notion that creativity is a matter of human agency alone.
Today, however, we understand that the complex interactions between technical and human agency is a determining part of the creative process.
How has the idea of a creative practice morphed over the years? What does it mean to be creative?
All forms of art making have been radically transformed by the advent of digital technologies. As a result, creativity must be understood to encompass a much broader range of activities than in the past and to produce a much broader range of object types.
Even more important is the fact that the creative process does not end with an object at all. Instead, increasingly larger amounts of creative resources are being put into producing new tools and concepts that are designed not to make things but to amplify the creative capacities of others. The critical question now is no longer “What does it mean to be creative?” but “Are there any limits to the concept?”