Relaxation and Reorganisation of “Internal Constraints” in Artistic Creation: Studies Focusing on the Embodiment of Ideas and Interaction With Others in Breakdance

Creativity, as studied by psychologists and cognitive scientists, is often portrayed as a special case of human problem solving (called creative problem solving) that uses cognitive functions such as analogy and conceptual combination (Weisberg, 2006). In recent years, many scientists have tried to reveal this creative process, scientifically, with work focusing on art creation and scientific discovery as the targets (e.g., Dunbar, 1993, 1997; Finke, Ward, &C Smith, 1992; Okada, Yokochi, Ishibashi, & Ueda, 2009; Simonton, 2001; Stokes, 2001, 2005; Yokochi & Okada, 2005). In this chapter, we touch on some of that prior work and then examine the case of creativity in breakdance, where we have been doing some recent work. Throughout this chapter, we highlight critical factors that facilitate the creative process, with an eye towards creating art but also to inform creative education.

Insight Problem Solving

Throughout their lives, people encounter many kinds of problems that they need to solve. The word problems covers a lot of ground. It refers to academic work encountered during schooling but also includes problem solving at a job, in relationships with others, with respect to one’s health, when playing games or doing puzzles, and so on. Many problems can be solved with routine strategies, but sometimes people must invent nontypical and innovative methods to solve problems that are difficult or impossible to solve with routine methods (Suzuki, 2010). This creative problem solving has been studied by psychologists and cognitive scientists, including in the domains of scientific discovery and artistic creation (e.g., Dunbar, 1993; Finke et al., 1992; Okada & Simon, 1997; Okada et ah, 2009).

Examples of creative problem solving include insight problems, which have often been the focus of psychological studies of creativity. The insight problem is one where the solution requires a flash of inspiration and a shift of viewpoints. We show two examples of these problems in Figure ЗЛА, the T-puzzle and the nine-dot problem. In the T-puzzle, people tend to fill in the notch of the pentagon part first, because the character T “seems” to be composed of the combination of straight lines. This tendency can block people from finding the correct answer. Similarly, in the nine-dot problem, people have the tendency to draw the lines on the inside of the square, and this tendency inhibits them from finding the answer. These tendencies are referred to as “constraints” that narrow the problem solving search space, and when problem solvers get stuck within constraints, they are described as being at an “impasse” (e.g., Ohlsson, 1992; Hiraki & Suzuki, 1998; Knoblich, Ohlsson, Haider, & Rhenius, 1999). This chapter focuses on “constraints” as “internal constraints”,

A and Figure 3.1 В Examples of Insight Problem Solving—

Figure 3.1 A and Figure 3.1 В Examples of Insight Problem Solving—

Note: In the T-puzzle, the challenge is to make the character “T” using the four provided shapes. The challenge in the nine-dot problem is to draw the line that passes through the all nine-dots with a single stroke. In Figure 3.1В overcoming internal constraints in puzzles, such as the T-puzzle and Nine-dot problem often requires a shift in perspective around one critical feature.—In the more complex domain of artistic creation there are a range of internal constraints and many paths to insight (e.g., Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976). For example, consider our sketch of Monet’s artistic creation process, which extends an analysis first presented by Stokes (2005).

because these constraints work based on the knowledge and cognitive frameworks of problem solvers.

So how do people stuck at an impasse get unstuck and eventually find a correct solution? Previous studies suggest that creative problem solving involves the relaxation and reorganisation of internal constraints (e.g., Ohlsson, 1992; Knoblich et ah, 1999; Knoblich, Ohlsson, &C Rainey, 2001). Once the initial constraints have been relaxed and reorganised, the solution often appears suddenly in a moment that the problem solver experiences as insight. For the T-puzzle, the insight moment is when people find the solution to use the notch as a part of the straight lines of the character T. For the nine-dot problem, the insight moment is when people find a way to draw a line outside of the boundary of the square.

Relaxation and Reorganisation of Internal Constraints

Studies of the creative processes of artists such as Monet and Matisse have also identified the importance of internal constraints. Stokes (2001, 2005) investigated the artworks and anecdotal records of famous artists and suggested that their knowledge of the target domain and other related domains serves as constraints to limit/facilitate their creation. The idea is that artists continued to generate fascinating works through their lives by applying related but different constraints. For example, Claude Monet worked by applying his interpretations of colour, and by changing those interpretations, Monet was able to progress through three phases of creative work: Monet showed how light breaks up on things in phase 1, between things in phase 2, and by itself in phase 3. Following Stokes (2001, 2005), we propose that the relaxation and reorganisation of a creator’s internal constraints play an essential role in long-term creation. The importance of the relaxation and reorganisation of internal constraints in artistic creation was also suggested by long-term fieldwork on the creative process of a contemporary artist (e.g., Okada et al., 2009; Takagi, Yokochi, & Okada, 2013).

Although we argue that insight problem solving and artistic creation can be thought of as involving similar cognitive processes, there is an important difference. In insight problem solving of the kinds that psychologists are fond of studying, the internal constraint (and the correct answer) is often a single trick of perspective (see Figure 3.1B). In this case, it is very clear what kinds of internal constraints people have, how people should reorganise this constraint, and how that leads to a single correct answer. Well-defined problems make it easier to scientifically investigate problem solving in the laboratory. In contrast, artistic creation in the real world is complex, messy, and full of variation. It is not obvious what kinds of internal constraints people have, how they should reorganise these constraints, and what kinds of answers they should find. This ambiguity makes artistic creation a fascinating process, for it brings diversity and originality. Bur ir also brings difficulties to the artists, who can struggle to identify internal constraints and creative breakthroughs by themselves. In this chapter, we explore this creative struggle as an artist identifies and overcomes internal constraints to invent a new way of moving in breakdance.

 
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