Raise the roof! May 8, 2007 Dear Artist, Now it seems that researchers at the Universities of British Columbia and Minnesota have found a relationship between creativity and the height of ceilings. Rui Zhu and Joan Meyers-Levy tested various volunteer groups in rooms of eight- and ten-foot ceilings. "When a person is in a high-ceiling environment, they are going to process information in a more abstract, creative fashion," said Zhu. "Those in a room with relatively lower ceilings will process in a much more concrete, detail-oriented fashion." These researchers feel people under high ceilings are "primed" to think broadly because of the sense of freedom associated withManchester Cathedral, UKThe soaring architecture of Gothic Cathedrals may have contributed to the lofty thoughts of the Renaissance" src="http://clicks.robertgenn.com/images/artists/robert_genn/051107_cathedral_sm.jpg"> Manchester
Cathedral, UKThe soaring architecture of Gothic Cathedrals may have contributed to the lofty thoughts of the Renaissance the space, while the containment of a lower ceiling encourages people to think small and focused. There may be something in this. Artists have traditionally demanded high ceilings, not only so they can run up their easels and facilitate high light but also to give themselves creative headroom. My studio, for example, is divided into two areas, one with a 9-foot ceiling, the other with a pitch that goes up to 14 feet. I've noticed I feel different in the two areas, and bringing work-in-progress from one area to the other demands different moves. On the other hand, working outside under an infinite ceiling can evoke a kind of conservative stagnation. In my case, this perverse reaction may be due to the intimidation that the great outdoors has always given me and may not be typical of all plein air enthusiasts. On the other hand, the studio in general is a sanctuary where I may safely vacillate between exploratory creativity and my personal bag of tricks. Apart from the feng-shui of high ceilings and their invitation to power and expansive thinking, other benefitsBig Mark Rothko in the Metropolitan Museum, NY include the dissipation of toxins and more oxygen. And when you think about it, the availability of empty warehouses and lofts on Manhattan has contributed greatly to the New York "paint big" school. Paris has always had some big places too. "Give me the venue and I will fill it up," said Picasso. While larger, higher studios may invite larger, higher work, they might also invite larger, higher ideals. Incidentally, these researchers ought to try to find out if shorter persons are more creative than taller ones because they have more space above their heads. Best regards, Robert PS: "Higher ceilings prime the feeling of freedom that in turn facilitates the relational processing of multiple data." (Rui Zhu) Esoterica: Contrarily, I'd like to draw your attention to the possible value of confinement. Tight little areas such as bird blinds, cars and motorhomes work well for many. It has something to do with the absence
of clutter and the opportunity to focus. Curiously, I've pulled off more than a few reasonable paintings in the economy seat of a crowded aircraft. I feel there's something smugly brilliant about keeping my elbows to myself. In any case, when building the studio of your dreams, you need to think about bumping your head.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Increase creativity - raise the roof
Are you an abstract, creative thinker or a more detail concrete, detail-oriented thinker? Currently there is a lot of thought given to school planning, especially open plan classrooms but one thing I haven't heard discussed is ceiling heights. Artist Robert Genn in his blog The Painters Keys writes about research into ceiling heights.