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Creative Constraints

There’s something about a limit that causes a burst of creativity. Sure, at first, a limit creates a sense of hopelessness – “How are we ever going to get this done with THIS absurd rule” – but then, it becomes a point of pride to be able to produce something of quality despite the limitations. Where am I going with this? Well, twitter released Vine for android yesterday, and I’ve been playing with it. If you’re not familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows the creation of 6-second videos. Yes, six seconds. Like Twitter artificially constrains users to 140 characters, Vine applies the same constraints to video. And, though I didn’t realize it, it records sound, too. Here’s the first Vine I’ve ever made, of our new office mascot, Mr. Bubbles:

And here’s another: Margaret’s favorite happy-maker at the Volunteer House right now:

So far, these videos have been about six seconds looping. But there’s another area of creativity, and that lies in the fact that you can start or stop the videos at any point by clicking on them. So, here’s an example of the fastest win possible in Chess, called a “blitzkrieg”:

But the same concept of creative constraint applies in other areas, too. At the volunteer house, for instance, we recently came up against a budget restraint – we’d reached our monthly limit for food a few days early. And so, we resolved to use what we had in the house while waiting on new funding. It’s not something we often talk about, but it’s meant that the meals have gotten progressively creative – using peanut butter in non-Thai pasta dishes, for instance, or in smoothies to thicken and offer additional nutrients. Creativity with eggs has also been key – we all enjoy eggs in different ways, and we’re doing more sharing of the food to stretch it further.

As part of this thought of creative constraint, we decided to go out to the beach, and cook s’mores and reindeer dogs/brats by a driftwood fire. The constraint here was in using materials that we, and our friends, had on hand. I also had a chance to play with the official DSLR camera, and enjoyed taking pictures on the beach. The gallery below are some of my favorites – and they represent the creative constraints on building a fire, when the sea is still frozen.

What are some constraints that have helped you be more creative? Let me know in the comments! If you have things to share, I’d love to see the links, too. 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Chris Morgan on June 4, 2013 at 10:28 am

    very entertaining! and great photos!