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  • Curiously, much of our memory can become faded and distorted over time, like an old photograph, regardless how vivid the incident that might have spawned it.
  • At this point the Dr. observes a curious phenomenon, namely that as soon as a child begins pretending, he or she is also able to recognize pretending in others. This constitutes for Dr. Leslie evidence of an early indication that children have a “theory of mind,” that is, the ability to understand mental states in other people.
  • The “friend” frequently assumes some therapeutic role, such as that of a confidant, a scapegoat, a proxy;
  • None the less, parents and teachers, often discourage this type of pretend behavior particularly if it spills over into social situations. Setting an extra place setting for “Mr. Dumpy” at Thanksgiving dinner, orsaving a seat in the classroom for“Frazzles” might be a little over the top.
  • Dr. Paul Harris of the Harvard Graduate School of Education points out that writers will often speak about how their characters step out of the novel or play and tell them what to say.
    The authors say that it can be quite disconcerting, particularly when they feel the character is smarter or cleverer than they are.
    The writer's experience is not all that different from a reader's vivid imagination experience.

Transcript

  • 1. Visual Imagination is an introductory course in design. It is based on the premise that exploration, discovery and discipline are fundamental to, and a common ground for, all artists in the theatre.
  • 2. The Nature of Imagination
  • 3. " You can fill a man with knowledge and all you will have is a man filled with knowledge, but spark his imagination and he can conquer the universe." Albert Einstein
  • 4. Imagining is a type of conscious thought that appears to be uniquely human. Imagination may be defined as a basic human capacity for creating mental images and thoughts outside the context of one’s immediate environment.
  • 5. Stated another way, imagination is the faculty of consciously forming mental images or concepts of that, which is not actually present to the senses.
  • 6. Imagination has many nuances (variations). Although we will touch upon several of these at different times in the course, perhaps the three most common and fundamental types of imagination are: 1. Reproductive imagination 2. Creative Imagination 3. Fantasy
  • 7. Reproductive imagination refers to the ability to recall images stored in one’s memory under suggestion. Example: Remembering my sixth grade math teacher.
  • 8. Do you remember your sixth grade math teacher? OR
  • 9. Another example: Remember the time you were caught in a lie? How embarrassing was that?
  • 10. OR
  • 11. Can you remember an… embarrassing moment? Forgot something?
  • 12. Creative imagination is the ability to recombine former experiences stored in memory to create new images directed at a specific goal, as an aid in finding a solution to a problem, or to create art or artifact. + =
  • 13. + + = =
  • 14. A creative construct or product, no matter how “cutting edge”, is ultimately, only a unique recombination of elements that already, somehow, exist.
  • 15. Fantasy is the ability to visualize entities and/or conditions that are altered or distorted interpretations of former experiences, actual or learned, that have been stored in memory.
  • 16. Much of our memory becomes faded and distorted over time… like an old photograph.
  • 17. Combinations of reproductive, creative and fantasy types of imagination can result in a vast array of subtypes such as, for example, speculative imagination.
  • 18. Speculative imagination is the ability to combine recall with fantasy. This type of thought is often preceded with a speculative “What if…?” Sound familiar actors?
  • 19. Surfer daydreaming.
  • 20. 1998 Olympic skating champion Tara Lipinski dreamed of the day…
  • 21. Tom is contemplating the development of a new character.
  • 22. This kind of thinking is often guided by the thinker’s emotional state. Rachel’s mom realizes Rachel is late from school. She must therefore be Involved in…
  • 23. or…
  • 24. Geez Louise! They’ll all want pizza after the strike!
  • 25. I can just see myself…
  • 26. Imagination, then, enables us to plan ahead, to create, to worry, to jump to conclusions, to make sweeping generalizations, to empathize with others, to mentally escape a boring situation (daydream) and thus entertain oneself, and of course, to pretend and thus entertain others as well. This might provide a clue as to why study and encourage imagination in the theatre?
  • 27. Dr. Alan Leslie, the Director of the Cognitive Development Laboratory at Rutgers University claims that imagination gives us clues to the basic architecture of the human mind. Imagination is an early manifestation of our ability to transcend thinking about the world of the here and now, and instead think about the world as it might be, or even, as it might have been (hindsight).
  • 28. Imagination, Dr. Leslie says is an early manifestation of our ability to transcend thinking about the world of the here and now, and, instead, think about the world as it might be, or as it might have been (hindsight).
  • 29. At this point the Doctor observes a curious phenomenon, namely that as soon as a child begins pretending, he or she is also able to recognize pretending in others. This constitutes for Dr. Leslie evidence of an early indication that children have a “theory of mind,” that is, the ability to understand mental states in other people.
  • 30. Dr. Leslie points out that the average child begins pretend play at around 18 to 24 months. Children have a “theory of mind,” that is, the ability to understand mental states in other people.
  • 31. Because children can, and do accept someone else’s state of pretense, they enter and leave a state of pretense seamlessly, without excessive instructions, explanations, introductions, nor parting remarks. Hence the essence of collaborative play.
  • 32. Pretend activity in children often involves interplay with an “imaginary friend” or “friends”… someone who helps them work out problems or explore the forbidden. The “friend” frequently assumes some therapeutic role, such as that of a confidant, a scapegoat, a proxy;
  • 33. Children, do realize that the imaginary friend(s) is not real. None-the-less, parents and teachers, often discourage this type of pretend behavior particularly if it spills over into social situations. Saving a seat in the classroom for “Frazzles” might be a little over the top.
  • 34. And yet studies have shown that children with an active imagination have a better vocabulary, attempt to solve problems more creatively, show greater empathy for others and overall show less violent behavior (because they work out problems in other ways).
  • 35. Although often suppressed in teens and adults, pretense and imagining someone’s presence continues to be a normal part of our lives. We frequently “script out” a dialogue involving someone else, either to “rehearse a forthcoming scene” or sometimes to “replay a scene with a different, usually more favorable outcome.”
  • 36. Authors, playwrights in particular, engage in this type of activity a lot.
  • 37. Dr. Paul Harris of the Harvard Graduate School of Education points out that writers will often speak about how their characters step out of the novel or play and tell them what to say.
  • 38. Whenever we read a play, a piece of fiction, or watch a movie, we often identify with a character or characters and become absorbed in the experience on an emotional level. We experience real, sometimes deep, emotion even though we are aware that the characters themselves are not real.
  • 39. Theatre artists subsist and revel in the creation, re-creation, animation (bringing to life), and interpretation of characters, locales, and ambiances (the mood felt at or from a particular location).
  • 40. Studying imagination enables us to gain insight into the processes of creative thought that is so essential to innovative problem solving.
  • 41. What is imagination? To re-iterate, imagination is the faculty of consciously forming mental images or concepts of that which is not actually present to the senses.
  • 42. In the next section we shall examine the design process and the role that creativity and imagination play within in that process.