“…it is conceivable that the history of art could be viewed as a record of the highest achievements of man's qualitative problem solving behavior.”
— David W. Ecker The Artistic Process as Qualitative Problem Solving
The Idea Enhancement Project is a unique undertaking that explores the use of art as a practical tool for increasing innovative and creative thinking. Its images are qualitative solutions that are immediately available for “real world” use by everyone.
All artwork is original and free to download for prints, computer wallpaper, or any other use.
Select pieces of art — then take time to live with the artwork and use it as a visual focus to any kind of contemplation. The more you bring to it, the more you will take away.
These images could be the means to unblock your creative stream, start your thoughts traveling in a new direction, or allow you to flow down through memories to a time long forgotten.
This project embodies my belief that there is a place in the mind where art and ideas are at the same level — a moment in time that stretches back into memory and dreams, and where connections are most easily made.
However, since the project’s images are useful only so far as they produces results, I need the feedback of your comments to gauge its effectiveness and improve future pieces of art.
The Idea Enhancement Project is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). NYFA will receive grants on behalf of the Idea Enhancement Project, ensure the use of grant funds in accordance with the grant agreements, and provide program or financial reports as required.
Please donate any amount to the project through the NYFA website. This money will be used to print and mount large pieces of art for display in libraries, cafeterias, and waiting rooms for public feedback, and also for hosting and maintaining the project website and digital storage of images.
I was recently asked by one correspondent “How is looking at your artwork more beneficial in terms of idea enhancement than staring at clouds or a tide pool?”
Difference of intent
The project images are not produced by chance, but by the intent of the artist. A practice that is exampled by works like Chinese contemplative gardens that were meant to evoke a feeling of being in the larger natural world and to capture the sensations of wandering through the landscape. The project images are intended to stimulate the qualitative world of the mind — evoking a larger world than could ever be denoted by the images themselves. And viewing images that are produced by the qualitative problem solving of the artist is more likely to call forth creative ideas and solutions from the viewer than a series of random occurrences.
The practicality of this project is equally based on intent of the viewer to enter into the experience. The viewer needs to bring something of themselves if they wish to participate.
Difference of communication and understanding
In the Idea Enhancement Project’s research process, there is a human on both sides of the equation and ideas can meet ideas. This allows for a richness of communication and understanding that is not available by other means, and facilitates the project’s goals.
This project also asks questions, and is thereby more likely to engage viewers than an activity that requires the viewer to come up with both the questions and the need for asking them.
Difference of material
The project material is selected, not left to chance, and the selection can be further improved by feedback that is specific to the viewer. [Among the more interesting questions being studied in this project: “Are the [types] of images and the results specific to certain viewers?” and “At what point or in what area does universality give way to individuality?”]
The quality of the viewing material is enhanced through images that maximize the amount of useful “triggers.” While any visual experience may trigger an idea, the Idea Enhancement images are deliberately constructed with many evocative aspects that increase their usefulness in this regard.
Difference of practicality
The visual methods employed in this project do not require perfect concentration, contemplative balance or years of practice and discipline. It utilizes standard and natural functions of the human brain to overcome these difficulties and deficiencies - no instruction is required. It’s a powerful “simple case” solution which overrides any borderline condition or lack of precision and exactness of the “parts.”
The above statements overlap and could easily be grouped or combined in a number of different ways. This is inherent in trying to translate the non-verbal to verbal, and qualitative to quantitative reasoning. My greatest surety is that the “rightness” that I feel while making a drawing is the same “rightness” that I feel with this project.
Like all creative endeavors, the end result cannot be theorized in advance. The Idea Enhancement Project is a journey of exploration, rather than a trip to a perceived or exact destination. This is only the beginning.
— Doug Baird, October, 2017