Chaos, Complexity, & Collage

Beauty on Trial by Stephen M. Specht
collage. Courtesy of the artist.

Unpacking the Psychology of the Creative Process

“I have scores of vintage LIFE magazines in my chaotic (dictionary definitional use) studio, as well as dozens of vintage books, including books about steam engines, anatomy, photography, insects, and history,” writes Steven M. Specht, Ph.D. in Kolaj 34. “Of course, I also have many contemporary magazines and books from which to choose potential collage elements. Although all of these sources seem quite static as they sit stacked on the floor or on bookshelves; they create the potential for an extremely complex dynamical system. What may seem like a random act of selection of an element, perhaps is not random at all, but determined by a myriad of slight perturbations in ‘initial conditions’ of the artist and the environment. Artists sometimes refer to the role of ‘intuition’ in their creative process. In Simonton’s analysis, this may be the source of ‘blind variations’.

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