Creativity in a Post-Disciplinary World

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In our globalised society, the world we inhabit is increasingly post-disciplinary. In art, we no longer have neat categories of painting, drawing, sculpture etc, but hybrids like installation that may make use of numerous media in combination, or digital environments that present an interactive environment with few boundaries.

Post-disciplinarity does, however, make new demands that, conceptually and critically, we are often ill-equipped to deal with and understand because our way of thinking about art has derived from a period when disciplines were central. Previously, creativity occurred within a context of experimentation framed by a discipline – painting, for example. The discipline provided context, meaning and purpose, whether new work was working within tradition, or even deconstructing it.

The notion of creativity provides a point of reference whereby we can constructively explore post-disciplinarity. Unless we are happy to be uncritical, how can we be thoughtful, rigorous and critical about creativity, now the “objective correlatives” provided by the characteristics and traditions of a discipline, are no longer relevant? The situation is made more complicated by the uncertain role art now has in society. For many, art’s greatest value is its unbounded creativity which becomes its raison d’être. Post-disciplinary creativity can, therefore, appear to be just novel, different, unusual, idiosyncratic, free-floating and almost arbitrary.

Creativity is important not only for the sake of art, but because art is supposedly the epicentre of creativity, providing a model of how life should be in a post-industrial society.

The issue I am addressing in this paper is how we re-think creativity in the context of an increasingly post-disciplinary world. I argue that we need to think of creativity far more rigorously than is currently the case.


Keywords: Art, Post-disciplinarity, Creativity
Stream: Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Nigel Whiteley

Professor of Visual Arts, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA), Lancaster University
Lancaster, Lancashire, UK

Nigel Whiteley's research deals with cultural history from the 1950s to the present. Solo books include Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future, Design For Society (recently translated into Korean), and Pop Design - Modernism to Mod. He has contributed to, and edited, De-Traditionalisation and Art: Aesthetic, Authority, Authenticity, and is joint editor of The Lamp of Memory: Ruskin, Tradition and Architecture, and The Authority of the Consumer; as well as having essays published in journals such as Visible Language, the Journal of Architectural Education, ArtForum, Art History, The Oxford Art Journal, Design Issues, Architectural History and Cultural Values, and books such as Reassessing Nikolaus Pevsner, Interpreting Visual Culture, Modernism, Gender and Culture and Utility Reassessed. He has been a visiting professor at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, and the Central Academy of Art and Design in Beijing.

Ref: H08P0534