Ohayo, Kyōtō

Gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha

Kyoto is one of those cities that exemplifies the symbiotic nature Japanese culture. A city known for its many historical landmarks and UNESCO world heritage sites it blends both modern and ancient life astonishingly well. Once the capital of Japan, it was the center of culture, knowledge, power etc. and the preservation of many elements of Japan’s heritage is a beautiful scene to be immersed in. From the serene bamboo forest of the Arashimaya, to the time capsuled Gion district, to the magic Fushimi-inari temple, or the bustling Nishiki market, Kyoto is certainly a playground for creatives.

Looking South Toward Gion
Along the Kamo River
Fushimi-Inari Detail

On the topic of creativity, specifically digital mediums of creativity; I’ve been part of many discussions recently on how to educate the students so that they can become more creative, and overall better prepared for the future of work. The future of work, as others much more knowledgeable in this field have stated, is rapidly changing. Greater developments in machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning by machines is allowing us to automate and better utilize the computational power of machines for a variety of tasks. Although there are many benefits to the increased automation and augmentation self-learning machines have on our daily lives, there is inevitably a fear that rises in parallel. There has been a “recent” trend on focusing on creativity as a means to combat this adversity toward automation. If you watched the FIFA World Cup this year you would have seen a prominent adidas advertisement on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqaUF2JNY_U. The message is clear, creativity is the answer…the answer to what I think will be up to each individual.

Tori Gates 2
Overlooking Kyoto From Fushimi Inari

Before we can explore creativity, we should define it. The most common definition of creativity, is human expression in the form of art; how well we draw, play an instrument, dance etc. Personally I am of the opinion that this (common) definition is too narrow and we should be thinking in larger terms. Creativity should be thought of as the purposeful rearrangement, manipulation, and engagement of past experiences, inspirations, and knowledge acquired to solve a particular problem. Being creative can happen throughout your day and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve artistic expression in any form.

Panorama from Kiyomizu-dera
Pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera

Researchers in this field of creativity have developed two main concepts of to categorize creativity: big C and little c. Big C as the name suggest is large creative breakthrough in a given area, something that is rare in occurrence. This concept is what we are used to thinking of when discussing creativity; such as the invention of the internet or smartphone. Little c on the other hand are the variety of small innovations that occur in our day-to-day lives that improve, enhance, or otherwise enrich our lives. Contrary to popular conceptions it does not have to do with art in any form. Little c can occur when we innovate on a particular workflow at work, develop a new method of cooking fish etc.

Yasaka Jinja
Nijo Castle Moat

Everyone is capable of creativity especially through digital mediums; the proliferation of online tools, platforms, technologies has largely levelled the field of many disciplines whether it is education, design, photography and so on. However, to truly harness your own creative thinking I am of the belief that the historical elements of a discipline such as photography should be studied and carefully considered. What was done in the past has been built on iteratively by countless people into the state we find it today. To become better at your craft you need to understand what has come before, so you may iterate, diverge, and change how you will proceed from the established practices and norms. These little creative breakthroughs are a combination of your knowledge foundation, personality and life experience. This little c creativity is what makes you unique when you look at your work in a macro sense. The build-up overtime of these small innovations in your own practice forms into a mosaic that exemplifies you, and your style.

In summary, creativity has often been thought of us an innate talent but the reality is that creativity can be nurtured over time. It should not be thought of us as simply the aesthetic expression of a person, but rather a form of thinking that allows for the novel solutions to be developed for a wide array of problems. The nurturing of a creativity to some extent is dependent on having a basis of knowledge to work with, this basis can come from a variety of disciplines, but I am of the opinion that people need to understand where they are in relation to the historical elements of a the field(s) they work in. Not only can they draw inspiration from what has been done but they can improve or change it to best suit their goals.

Thank you reading, your thoughts would be appreciated.


If you are curious these images were captured with an A7 II and 35mm f/1.4

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