A personal exploration of the creative process
Thesis (MA (VA)(Visual Arts. Jewellery Design))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
In this thesis I concern myself with a rather particular process of making jewellery – a creative process which epitomises repetitive, labour-intensive and timeconsuming actions, results in an “optimal” experience (Csikszentmihalyi 1990) and leads to meticulous and refined products. In dealing with this process I present its conceptual framework which I understand as a sequence of physical, mental and emotional elements through which I move from fascination (the initiating factor of the process) to product (a concrete and legitimising by-product of the process). As I progress from fascination to product, I move through the distinct, yet interwoven stages of ideation, planning and preparation, production, meditation, incubation and insight. These stages, together with fascination and product, constitute a continuous, three-dimensional spiralling form which characterizes the conceptual structure of my process. Within that conceptual structure, I differentiate between the phase of decisionmaking and the “experiential” phase (here signifying “to experience”). The former phase comprises the stages of ideation, planning and preparation, and production; whereas the latter phase stretches over the stages of production, meditation, incubation and insight. I define decision-making as a sequential thought-process and distinguish between an open-ended and a highly restricted or defined type of decision-making. The open-ended type takes the form of free experimentation and dominates the stage of ideation, leading to those ideas which I choose to translate into concrete jewellerypieces. As I move from ideation to planning and preparation, and subsequently to production in developing and implementing my idea, I increasingly make use of the restricted type of decision-making in the form of relying on previously accumulated knowledge and experience. Understanding decision-making as “a logical process leading to a conclusion” (Loy 1988:146), I interpret decision-making in general, and the restricted type in particular, in terms of the philosophical notion of dual thoughtprocesses, based on the causally and sequentially linked elements of decision-making. As the stage of production progresses, the dual thought-processes of decisionmaking are increasingly relegated to my sub-conscious. Consequently, my consciousness is free to engage in what I refer to as meditation, as a result of which I move into the experiential phase of my process. My meditative state of mind can be ascribed to non-dual, spontaneous and random thought-processes which bring with an atmosphere of incubation out of which insights arise. As a result of my non-dual mind-set I experience both my thinking and my acting during meditation as non-dual, accumulating or resulting in an exhilarating, overtly positive, worthwhile and fulfilling experience. Even though this experience acts as a motivation for engaging in the process and is therefore of enormous significance, the tangible product of the process does serve a legitimizing function as it endows my almost excessively time-consuming and labour-intensive acts with purpose. However, as a result of the input of enormous amounts of personal energy over prolonged time-spans my process leads to an intimate relationship between my products and me, causing a dilemma and paradox as I struggle to let go of my jewellery-pieces.