The Investigation of Creativity
Texts, Installation, Objects, 2009
The Investigation of Creativity was conducted at Iaspis, a Swedish stately residency program.
This context is important for some parts of the piece, where as the more general investigation of what creativity is, has been and could be is not tied to any specific time or place, although my interest in these questions stem from the realisation that:
- the creative process is a term which is loaded with myths and ideas about what can be achieved by the human mind,
- it is projected on artists,
- artists in Sweden finance their work to a large extent through stately grants and institutions, and Konstnärsnämnden (the Governmental agency where the Iaspis residencies have their studios) is the biggest sponsor of individual artists in Sweden.
This work contains the following sixteen texts, a separation installation and three objects:
In our society we differ between the types of creativity used within an industrial or everyday life context and within an artistic context. Artistic creativity is the result of a creative process.
A room has been given to me here at Iaspis to practice the latter form of creativity. My creative process thus has been given a room in a governmental agency. This must mean that the state has a need for my creativity.
Perhaps I want to satisfy this desire but I am not sure.
To understand this desire of artistic creativity in general I have taken a few steps back to understand how it has been constructed both by consumers and practitioners, and what its function is.
It has been said sometimes that art should not be beneficial, but I don’t think anything exists socially that has no function.
Rules and Regulations
“The solidarity of a society demands rules -taboos, and transgressions within ritual forms.”
Alchemists where scientists, philosophers and artists in one person. Alchemy can also represent the assimilating principle: to make everything become one and be connected to one self. “The human as a funnel” is one perspective of the creative process.
They where also empiricists; it was not enough to obtain knowledge through reading. Everything had to be tested and experienced by the individual alchemist. The goal of the alchemist was double. To create the Philosophers Stone (which could be used to cure diseases and transform base metals into gold) through chemical experiments was just one side of it. According to a lot of alchemists “the vulgar gold was not their gold”. Instead the experiments were means to reach spiritual transformation.
The world of the alchemist was full of signs and connections between matter, phenomena, elements and sometimes gender; each metal corresponded to a planet and to a colour of stone representing a phase in the alchemic process, such as Saturn-lead-black stone, or sulphur-male-fire, mercury-female-water
The Separation Process stretched out in Space Part I
The Separation Process
I am deconstructing wine of the brand Jacob’s Creek through distillation. The goal was initially to separate the alcohol (the functional part of the product), then the water. What will be left should be the red pigment and taste and scent substances (to be compared with the language or aesthetic of the product).
It turned out that it is hard to get all the alcohol out and that taste and scent follow the alcohol and the water when it is distilled.
The Separation Process stretched out in Space Part II
Alchemic transformations are interesting in themselves and can be compared to other transformations in art and religion. I am interested in art as an activity that seeks its own purpose. What one seeks is something unmentionable. Due to it being unmentionable it can keep its sliding position in society. Its value is both high and low, but in any case materials are put together and/or separated, and in the process they transform and amount to a value of another kind, which is why you could perhaps use the word transcend after all.
From left to right: 1. Red pigment from wine. 2. Water. 3. Alcohol.
“Eventually the search itself becomes a substitute for what is missing. Inolving oneself with the highest form of purity excuses the involvement with the lowest form of filth.”
Carl Michael Edenborg about Gustaf Bondes shit-alchemy
Gustav Bonde was a noble man and a politician in Sweden in the 17th and 18th century who retired to become an alchemist full time. He internalized the alchemic process into his own body. He would eat something which he then passed out, cleaned, and ate again and so on. The process was supposed to continue for two years and lead to “The Philosophers Stone”, but it was hard because success was dependent on Bonde staying focused and in harmony. The tranquil obscenity of his procedure can illuminate the artistic production which often takes place in intimate privacy. Bonde’s work proceeded in secrecy and was only described in cryptic metaphores such as:
“I have read somewhere that the substance is located somewhere inside the searcher, lying in the midst of themselves.”
“All what the perverse touches turns into gold.”
I Want To Preserve
I wanted to preserve a piece of human shit but I wanted it to be someone elses. A friend of mine was happy to do it. After all arrangements had been made about packeting, delivery and so on all she had to do was produce. But her visits to the bathroom had changed from just being a way of getting rid of something to the production of an object. She wanted it to be good. And there was also someone who was waiting for the result. I had become the curator or institution and she the artist, or I had become the capitalist and she the worker.
The Original Product
Object - Abject
This object is also an abject. An abject is something that we need to reject but that also is holy. In some contexts I think art per definition is abject. Its supposed inefficiency needs to be rejected not to take over, at the same time as it works as a vent for something irrational that otherwise would exist in some other way. The abject reminds us of something which is lost and about our mortality.
From left to right: 1. The Original Product. A conserved piece of human faecal matter. Cast in plastic. 2. Hydrogen Gas. Hydrogen gas is colourless and shapeless. Created through adding sulphuric acid to zinc; Zn+H2SO4→ZnSO4+H2. 3. A Poisoned Muffin. A raspberry muffin with root from Monkshood, a plant that contains aconitine which is a lethal poison.
All The Protection
All the protections built up around art - the clean spaces, the institutions, the curatorial business- they protect us from art’s subversive content. That they are considered to be needed can be said to prove art’s potential power. It is art’s subjectivity in itself that makes it dangerous. Religion also risks becoming subversive if essential rituals are practised privately, without the institution. That is because they are value-building activities.
Rasperry muffin with root from monkshood. Contains aconite which has been used for executions and murder.
Art Is Shit
Anything can be art.
When it has become art it is a product.
A product is the end of a process, a waste.
At the same time the start of a new one - food.
Art is excrement, but the waste can be nourishment in another process.
When the piece of art/excrement is sold, a transformation of value occurs that is hard to define. But in that process one might say that the money is the excrement on the concrete level where the value of the art piece/excrement has become more banal, for some even tarnished; something one doesn’t like to talk about. But the metaphoric value of art seems to work in a very similar way to that of money.
Sometimes the private only appears to be private but is actually totally incorporated in the social structure and as an abject controlled. It is probably not a coincidence that death, excrement and art are treated the same in our society on one particular level: they are all deported to white rooms. Only then can we be certain that the dead/dying, the art piece or the excrement, all of which are the results of a loss of control of some sort, don’t mix with their surroundings.
Whether the production takes place inside or outside the body it is a matter of either putting together, separating and/or transforming matter. Seen in a broader perspective creativity is all the methods in which human beings change matter to achieve power over it and often over each other. But it is rarely a matter of creating something new. It is rather a question of refurnishing matter. The ultimate way of using creativity for ones interests of power is perhaps poisoning: Someone’s power over matter leads to someone else’s loss of control. There are poisons which only work together with other substances. This is called synergism.
In confrontation with matter we are helpless but it is a wet dream for the human being to overcome this helplessness and that is why our creativity for this purpose is infinite.