Less luck, more creativity

I recently downloaded Hipstamatic onto my iPhone, after having heard people raving about how great it is. It’s an app that, when you take a photo with the phone, applies a crop and various filter effects to the image. You get to select the processing broadly by choosing what “film”, “lens” etc to use, but fundamentally you don’t really have any control of how the image will turn out other than what you point and shoot at.

I got quite into it, at first. I spent about half an hour pottering about, gleefully taking pictures. It was fun. The results were cool. I took the picture on the right. I thought “hmmm that’s quite interesting, quite cool, I’ve created a nice image there…”

And then I thought, “Hang on, what is this crap I’m thinking. I didn’t create this image. The app did”; and even then “create” is far to strong a word for a machine applying a random-ish filter. Fundamentally it’s a snap shot of some paving slabs and some grass; and fundamentally it’s pretty lame.

This got me thinking. There seems to be a lot of this about at the moment. Lot’s of pictures that are all style and no substance. Not that that is bad in itself, but the ‘style’ bit is not applied by a ‘creator’, but randomly stuck on by some automated technical gadget; at best loosely guided and at worst purely random. If you shoot enough pictures, you’ll get something good. In other words you get lucky.

But I could have created the picture by taking a ‘normal’ photo and then applying the effects in photoshop right? Yes, of course, but the point is that I would have been in control of the effects, deciding creatively what to do with the image.

Does it matter? If the result is a good picture, does it matter how it was made? I can’t enunciate why, but I feel it does.

***Soapbox*** People of the world, I urge you; conceptualise your art and then form it; don’t trust in chance; show the world less luck and more creativity. ***End Soapbox***

Do schools kill creativity? – Ken Robinson TED Talk

Bad habits that crush your creativity

Creativity: to stifle or to nurture

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