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WE’RE PLAYING A GAME,

A GAME THAT WE ALL CAN CHANGE, AND IT’S ALL ABOUT COPYING.


Create and creativity have the same root which is the latin word creātus, the past passive participle from the verb creāre ‘to create’. Hence creativity is the ability to create. It doesn’t matter what you create. If you create you are creative. The verb in itself has the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms but it is in essence an old causative verb. Its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.

Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ and ‘crescendo’. The word “create” appeared in English as early as the 14th century to indicate divine creation. However, its modern meaning as an act of human creation did not emerge until after the Enlightenment.

The Age of Enlightenment in the late 17th-century Europe emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition. Over the course of the last decades, we seem to have reached on a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products. But the truth is that creativity can also be defined “as the process of producing something that is worthwhile to someone” or “characterized by expressiveness and imagination”.

The problem here is that we’ve been taught that originality is a basic characteristic of creativity. But the truth is that as creativity is a mind skill that allows us to make an idea in any area, the adjective original is just unapplicable due to it’s nature as a skill. Creativity is just something each one of us can develop for his/her persona.  Creativity is essentially not a kind of knowledge or science. It's a skill that may be improved through various methods. Hence, creativity is an almost steady ability to generate concepts with no time, age, kind, manner, way, technics, advantage, efficacy and subject limitation and restriction. That means, 1) that copying is one of the most valuable resources of creativity, and 2) that something creative is not necessarily or entirely new.


What is produced can come in many forms and is not specifically singled out in a subject or area, and of course it can be produced and distributed on an area outside high culture’s. That’s the reason why creativity isn’t something exclusive of the arts, and why it’s one of the main characteristics of the human being. The deal is that one of the fields with the greatest desire of possessing and owning everything is the one of the art & culture industry. And one of their biggest claims is creativity, but they do not own it, no matter what they do.

Σαυτον ισθι (Nosce te ipsum or know yourself) is one of the Delphic maxims, and according to the greek travelogue Pausanias, it was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Description of Greece 10.24.1). Two other Delphic maxim are Γνωθι μαθων (know what you’ve learned) and Εχων χαριζου (give what you have). The first maxim I mentioned (and perhaps the most famous) can be achieved easier through creativity. Creating objects, texts, decors, pottery, etc, is a nice way of knowing ourselves. Only when you create is when you see yourself reflected on your creation. The word “creation” has been linked to god since the Genesis. Perhaps that’s why we believe that only a few can create. But the truth is that just as the bible claims that God created us on his image, when we create things we also do it based not on his image but on the image of ourselves. That’s why creating is an excellent way of knowing us.

Since the renaissance (or probably even earlier) we’ve been working with the same ideas, and we were granted even more freedom when artists like Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine appeared. The second maxim I mentioned fits here, “know what you’ve learned”. We need to be conscious on how the act of copying feeds art, and how copying improves our creativity. We need to understand what we have learned, but more importantly, we need to accept it. The third maxim I mentioned, and perhaps the more important for an artist (or a person that’s struggling to establish him or herself as an artist), has to do with the acceptance of our uniqueness. The world is not the only one that needs to accept what we create, we need to accept it too. It’s the struggle of knowing yourself and knowing what you’ve learned, so you can know what you truly have, and figure out how to share it. We all have something to give, and perhaps the ones that successfully do it, no matter what they give, are the real artists. If we were all artists I’m sure art could change the world. But the way we’re doing it, I’m sure things will never change.

alonso@prizon.mx









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