Pandora's Box

Nov 1, 2004 1:09am

This tool is an attempt to help me become more artistically creative. I need a way to generate unusual combinations of familiar things; in essence, a randomiser. A word list seems ideal. I’ve chosen words because I’m a writer, but it could equally be done with pictures, or objects – even sounds. This tool isn’t immediately useful for generating solutions to specific problems. Could it be adapted? Perhaps. I have a few ideas.

I’ve attached a small sample of the words I’ve come up with so far. This set is intended to be the core of a larger word list. You can certainly use it as it is – I have been the past month – but it probably would be more useful if you added words which have particular resonance for you. My 251 selections from the collective unconscious are likely to be very different from yours, and possibly too tightly connected. Add as many more words as you like, then print them out – ideally on a mix of coloured card. Chop them up and you’re ready to play.

Some things you can do:

* Randomly select 2 or more words (e.g. Clown, Tongue) as a creative stimulus – for any artistic medium, not just writing

For further constraints select from another pile with medium-specific terms (first-person, fast-tempo, watercolour, horror, percussion, etc)

* Use the words to construct a scene (Jungle, Stone Temple, Sacred Antique Bomb, Murder) and then tell the story

* Take 40 cards and play association Solitaire – when you’ve got 4 groups of 10 turned over, choose one group and write a descriptive paragraph or one-page story containing the 10 words

To make it harder, play with colours (it forces more creative associations)

* Create commercial names and describe the product (Neuro Vortex)

* Try to define a word from the pile using 2 other words – many are surprisingly easy (Azure Abyss), others break the rules (Fire Orgasm Device) … how would you define Dice, Gene or Jerusalem?

Define collocations (Black Hole) or words that aren’t in the list (Flesh Nectar)

* Create a word chain by association (Metamorphosis-Moon-Colony-Palm-Heart-Organ-Musical-Silence)

Make a word web

* Place the words with the most connections (or fewest degrees of separation) in the centre of a circle and move out to the fringes; what is the core word in this set?

* Divide the words into as few groups as possible

* Choose a broad concept (for instance, Goodness) and make a concept map using all of the words; choose another concept (Technology) and rearrange the words into a new map

Many of these are based on the same underlying principle, and are as much critical or linguistic as creative thinking, but it gives an idea of what’s possible. If you (i.e. the 3 people who got this far) give it a go, let me know of what you come up with – I’m keen to hear what others make of it.


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