Association in Creative Idea Generation: a black box dissertation staged in lyric inquiry and glass concepts
The central argument of this thesis is two-fold: that association, in various modes, is one key to creative ideation; and that using a lyric inquiry with modes of association can aid in generating ideas for creative practice. I identify and explore these critical elements of the creative process using practice-based research revisited through a scholartistry angle (Elkins 2005, Knowles, Promislow, and Cole 2008, Neilsen 2002), aiming to facilitate idea generation for myself and university-level, student artists and designers. I focus on the liminal period of ideation, just before an idea for studio is fully formed. Throughout the thesis, I use traditional, academic text juxtaposed with lyric writing to present my research, staged in ‘glass’ (the concepts, material, hotshop, and history) because glass is unique in its contribution to human creativity, ideas, and innovation. Through my writing, I describe creativity research and theories, while simultaneously practicing the theories to investigate ideation and offer an inclusive, accessible approach to glass as a creative medium. My literature review reveals that modes of association (named differently in different fields) are present in critical studies and theories of creativity, ideation, and innovation across disciplines as diverse as psychology, advertising, business, and mathematics. I reposition theories such as Mednick’s remote associates (1962), Koestler’s ‘bisociation’ (1964), de Bono’s ‘lateral thinking’ (1977), Johansson’s intersections (2004), and Johnson’s ‘adjacent possible’ and ‘exaptation’ (2010), tying them together and tracing them to Wallas’ The Art of Thought and his theories of association in the creative ideation process (1926). I discuss how these theories and associative modes operate in early creative ideation and highlight how words and relationship awareness can be critical to idea formation. My practice-based research puts association theories into practice, supporting them, while also adding a new contribution: evidence showing the usefulness of lyric inquiry to idea generation. I embrace ‘lyric philosophy’ (Zwicky 2014), follow ‘scholartistry’—a fusion of artistic inquiry and scholarship (Knowles, Promislow, and Cole 2008), and attend to creativity from a ‘meta-creativity’ approach (Runco 2015). By examining creative ideation from my practitioner’s lens, I offer a shifted perspective for creativity research, conducted most often from non-practitioner viewpoints observing creatives. My creative outputs are incorporated within this written thesis, supporting my dissertation writing as primary sources of information: ‘Word Triangulation’ (a new ideation tool with positive trial results), a glass reading aid, lyric texts, and a book of ideas. Designed as an artist’s book, my dissertation itself is a creative output, challenging the traditional thesis writing form and demonstrating a creative process. I offer it as a work of glass.