3) The creative process
After getting onto the process of emotion, this chapter is going to consider the concept of flow further, through opinions about ways of creation.
As we are becoming artist-designers, and wondering deeply about what it consists of, we hope to find some ways to come up to people’ needs and desires. And it requires seeking for essentials and principles in our work, to understand better the secrets of creativity, for instance, and the birth of an idea. After various experiments, I have always been very much interested in this mysterious creativity, as well as finding it to be something a bit frightening (I mean by this, that so many designers are famously scared of their lack of ideas), it is also a very exciting state of mind, that is, in fact, possible to control, more or less. And the characteristics of the creative process may inform other processes, such as emotional processes or processes of cooking, and vice-versa.
In my own way of doing things, I am convinced of the necessity of one sentiment: passion. The passion for researching, the passion for the nature of things, expressed through arts that conduct us to another reality, allowing the vision of beauty and truth. Nowadays, it is not easy to live simply and to not follow the incentives that come from our consumer society. Passion has to do with a sort of devotion to any object of love, from which we do not expect anything. We are just there to show the qualities, the beauty, the identity of the object, which are not obvious for others. And as in many cases, it is all about the question of perception.
I certainly go along with the thoughts of the philosopher Henri Bergson concerning what art is able to bring out. An artist does not really see a need in every single thing. He likes colour for colour itself, shape for shape, and actually the inside life of things. The highest ambition of art is to reveal nature, trying to find out the soul, highlighting music in order to move away from symbols to face up directly to reality in itself. And it is an overtone of the fact that reality is hidden under many veils, that artists are in charge of bringing them out into the open.
Well, how does this artistic perception work? This particular perception requires a detachment from practical concerns, a selective indifference. Artistic invention supposes first this perceptive availability, like floating, that lets images coming out. And the five senses might help to the opening of the perception.
Therefore, I would like to point out this floating state of mind, which crosses intermittently the state of concentration. Detachment and focus, far and close, the flow experience seems necessary in order for us to fix upon some determinate point. And here we come back again to this notion of “flow”, the flow that takes us away when an emotion is acting.
It is thus appropriate to quote the Hungarian author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the main representatives of an American school of thought called the “positivist psychology”, who conceptualized the “flow” theory. It is “the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”
According to Csíkszentmihályi, the flow experience seems to meet some of the following characteristics: a clear goal and a good concentration to lose the feeling of self-consciousness and the sense of time. After the activity it may give a direct feedback and be rewarding. Lastly, the activity has to be a balance between ability level and challenge in order to have a personal control over the situation.
So I feel as if these components of flow apply to various fields and give clues about some a priori tangled states. Because a particularity of the flow is to be uncontrollable, as we have seen for the emotional process just before we can name it as emotion, it happens also during the creative process; we need to let it go, to lose the control and enlarge the base to be surprised by instinctive ideas from the boundaries… Pushing further, an emerging idea, whether we are actively absorbed or not, enables an indescribably pleasant feeling that our role will be afterwards to transcribe again, but this time focusing on it, and allowing others to feel it. And to go just beyond this, the accomplishment of a piece of art would be, to me, to prepare someone for the flow experience, so that it crosses somebody’s mind and body, offering a different and true look at everyday life.
9. Dupont, Odile, Art et perception, Itineraires philosophiques, Delagrave, 2004, p.21-23
10. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly,Vivre, La psychologie du bonheur, Pocket, 2004, p.68, 70, 79, 107-120