Which Came First, Creativity or Dishonesty?

With today being Election Day you may be thinking about the need to keep dishonest and problematic people out of office…or at least keeping the more dishonest and problematic people out of office.

Creative and arts oriented people may see their vocation/avocation as a relatively virtuous one compared with that of politicians and other pursuits.

However, four years ago The Conversation wrote about how creativity and dishonesty can have a pretty close association. In some cases, it is almost a chicken and egg relationship as some studies have shown feeling entitled to special treatment can actually boost creativity.

They cite the famous story about the development of Post-It notes as an example of successful dishonesty:

Seeing potential value in the product, Fry reintroduced it to his superiors. They panned the idea, and ordered that he cease working on the project.

Nonetheless, Fry defied those orders and continued with the project. He built a machine to produce the Post-it notes, distributing the prototypes to 3M’s secretaries, who loved them. Fry ignored his managers’ requests, used company property without permission, and bypassed the established protocols of the company – all to pursue his idea.

The author of the article, Lynne Vincent, says that her research has shown that people who aren’t objectively creative, but think they are can develop a sense of entitlement based on the feeling that their ideas are worthy of notice, rule bending, and reward.

As I suggested earlier, what can be somewhat amusing is that dishonesty can actually result in creativity,

The irony is that these negative behaviors may spur more creativity. Francesca Gino and Scott Wiltermuth, a professor at USC, found that being dishonest can actually promote creativity. In this study, participants who cheated on a math and logic task by looking at the answers performed better on a subsequent creativity task than participants who did not cheat. When someone is dishonest, it often requires he or she to break a set of rules; yet this rule-breaking may promote creativity because it allows people to flout convention and expectations

Of course, if you have worked for any length of time in a creative field you know that the willingness to break convention and move counter to expectations is a hallmark of creativity. There can be a fine line, however, between coloring outside the lines and crossing the line where your actions deplete the value of something for others.

More Augmented Reality ARt Than You Know

Last month Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled their first augmented reality mural,  “Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny.”

Just like with my post last week about actors being  preserved digitally for eternity, I wondered about the implications of this technology.

While the physical mural has permanence, there is a lot that can be done with augmented reality to either enhance or degrade the experience of any work of art or physical location without the permission or awareness of creators/owners/caretakers.

But beyond that, I thought the capacity to do this sort of thing was pretty cool. In the process of trying to find additional video depicting the augmented reality experience of the Philadelphia mural (I never did) I came across a number of similar projects and discovered the concept wasn’t as new as I thought it was.  Just the same, the potential is wide open.

By the way, lest you think the title of this post was mistyped, the term being used is ARt emphasizing A(ugmented)R(eality).  (Though I suppose there is some redundancy in the title).

There is even an app that helps you paint murals on surfaces with the use of your phone, apparently the higher tech version of overhead projection. (I think your arms would be less tired using an overhead projector.)

This is one of my favorite uses among those I found:

Free In Life, But Eternally Enslaved By Movie Studios In Death

If we thought it was a problem that older arts administrators were resisting retirement and making it difficult for newer people in the field to advance and gain valuable skills, actors may end up having it worse. According to an article on MIT Technology Review, actors are digitally preserving themselves which would allow them to perform even after they die.

“It’s sort of a safe bet for the people with the money. It’s a familiar face,” says Ingvild Deila, who was scanned by Industrial Light and Magic for her role as Princess Leia in Rogue One. “We like to repeat what’s worked in the past, so it’s part financial, part nostalgia.”

Earlier this year Last Jedi visual-effects supervisor Ben Morris told Inverse that the Star Wars franchise is now scanning all its leads. Just in case. “We will always digitally scan all the lead actors in the film,” says Morris. “We don’t know if we’re going to need them.”

The article talks about some of the technical difficulties that have been encountered during efforts to retroactively create images of people from old video footage supplemented by motion capture from body doubles. The fact that actors are proactively working to collect a plethora of information about their gestural nuances and inevitable improvements in technology mean that an actor’s career can be extended for a long time.

There are all sort of thorny questions that this raises. On the positive side the technology may be an equalizer for women who have often found their careers truncated as they age or start being offered parts as mothers of male actors only a few years their junior  (or in the infamous case of Angelina Jolie and Collin Farrell in Alexander, one year her junior). Of course, that opens a whole can of worms akin to the controversies about retouching magazine photos if the digital recordings of women are used to “de-age” them more than their male counterparts.

Regardless of gender there is the question of authenticity and believability that can arise.

Not to mention, the matter of whether humans are needed at all if an AI can create a digital simulacrum that can deliver a believable, evocative performance.

I am not sure fans’ desire to interact with a live personae would necessarily prevent a digital creation from achieving peak stardom since the online and recorded presence already constitutes a significant portion of so many people’s relationship with those they admire.

If fans need a real life person upon which to shower praise, perhaps it will end up being the directors of design teams that will be the prime recipients of adulation for their masterful manipulation of wholly digital constructs.

The more I think about this issue, the more problems I can think of. My brain is already writing the plot of a movie where a studio kills off an actor so that they can’t contract their likeness to a rival studio, thereby making their recording at the peak of the actor’s powers the most valuable.

I anticipate court cases where heirs lose a lawsuit over the use of their great-grandparent’s likeness because the law governing such matters was underdeveloped in 2020.

Talking About Impact of Casinos Now Might Mean You Don’t Have To Lose Even If The House Always Wins

Four years ago I wrote about a coalition of performing arts organizations in upstate NY that was fighting to mitigate the impact of having new casino projects compete with them for performing arts talent.

As I had written, what often happens is that a casino is in a position of offer a lot more money to artists thanks to their revenues from gambling and hospitality. So an artist you could contract for $25,000 for a single performance can now get $40,000 a night for a week at a nearby casino.

Even if the artist might be willing to accept a lower fee at your venue, exclusivity clauses in their contract may prohibit them from performing in a 50-75 miles radius 90 days prior and 60 days after their casino engagement.

When I wrote that post four years ago, a commenter asked that I keep up on the efforts of the performing arts organizations, Coalition for Fair Game and update readers. I have been thinking I needed to circle back to the story and write another post.

The topic got brought to the top of my attention today at a meeting of Georgia performing arts presenters where a group that has been lobbying legislators on this issue gave a report on their efforts.

One of the things I did not realize is that many states are requiring that casinos earn a certain portion of their income from non-gambling sources like entertainment and hospitality. To some degree then, casinos are being forced to move into competition with non-profit performing arts organizations.

The guy reporting on the lobbying efforts said until they started talking with lawmakers about the repercussions of this requirement, it never occurred to the government officials that these requirements would have a negative impact on arts organizations locally and statewide.

So if your state is starting to look to legalize gambling or increase the presence of large casino complexes, it may behoove you to start conversations with lawmakers about the implications of these decisions.

As the discussion of the problem and lobbying efforts was occurring, I did a quick online search to learn more about what might have happened in upstate NY over the last few years. It just so happens, a newspaper wrote a pretty detailed story on the subject last month.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Coalition for Fair Game has received $500,000/year to help offset the impact of the casinos’ entertainment operations.

“If there wasn’t an agreement and this ongoing, open dialogue, we’d be constantly broadsided,” said Silva, who runs the Bardavon, presents shows at UPAC and Hutton Brickyards in Kingston and is currently president of the theater coalition. “We could be negotiating in good faith for an act and make an offer and get bumped because the casino gave $10,000 more.”

[…]

The money is designed to offset any negative economic impact that the casino’s headlining entertainment could have on the Bardavon and Bethel Woods. Resorts World Catskills allocates the funding to the theater coalition, which emerged in 2013 and includes venues from Albany to Elmira.

Similar deals are in place elsewhere in the state and can be found in Massachusetts.

In addition to the cash, this deal gives the Bardavon and Bethel Woods a say in the size, scope and number of entertainment offerings at Resorts World Catskills. The agreement and the casino licenses last 10 years and the payment from the casinos to the coalition is not affected by any fluctuations in gambling revenue.

Armed with the knowledge that the arrangement in upstate NY was working, I asked the speakers if they were aware of this arrangement and if they contemplated creating a similar situation if legislation went forward to authorize construction of proposed casinos.

They were aware of the arrangement in NY, but said while it was by far the best arrangement of its kind in the country, it is still an imperfect situation and that they would endeavor to carve out a better environment for the state.

Seems like something to continue to keep an eye on.

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