The paper proposes an “optical” approach to creativity, involving a modification of the way reality is viewed. Perception is notably absent from sociological accounts of creativity, examining practices of recombination embedded in social relations. Drawing on the work of Michael Baxandall, I propose a framework where creativity emanates from the disruption of “structures of attention”, allowing to see common elements in uncommon ways. The mechanism of disruption transpires on the billiard table, when contact between two balls provokes the repositioning of other balls, modifying distances and angles of visibility. Creativity results when actors use someone else’s solution to think through their own problems, provoking reinterpretation of established ways of doing. The mechanism is illustrated with discussions of El Greco and Paul C´ezanne. The framework builds on the growing sociological interest in social optics, indirect influence, reverse causality and endogeneity. It provides opportunities for meaningful interaction between art history, network research, neuroscience and the sociology of creativity. Link to the article
SGOUREV, S. (2021). Changing perspective: An “optical” approach to creativity. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, Media and the Arts, In press, pp. 101581.