Symbol, Munch and creativity : metabolism of visual symbols
In this dissertation the relationship between visual symbols and creative thinking is studied through visual, textual and conceptual analysis. The first part of the work focuses on the concept of symbol, the second part on the imagery of Edvard Munch (1863–1944), and the third part on creative thinking. The problematics of visual symbols is approached through the concept of metabolism by assuming that both perceivable and non-perceivable properties of symbols can transform when symbols are used. Because visual symbols are frequently understood as conventional signs with fixed meanings, their perceivable properties are easily ignored. However, symbols can also be unconventionally used, for example, by replacing some of the symbol's traditional perceivable properties by new ones, by bringing some new or exceptional symbol into otherwise conventional context, or by setting some traditional symbol into a new context. In this case there can be metaphorical tensions either between the old and new perceivable properties of some symbol, or between the symbol and its context. Through these tensions the total meaning of the symbol can expand. In the second part of the study, metabolic aspects of symbols are further discussed through the pictures and writings of Munch, especially by analysing the development of his moon symbolism. Through comparisons between different motifs of Munch it can be shown that his extraordinary pillar of the moon has been developed step by step, and that there are rich formal and thematic connections between different symbols utilised by Munch. It can also be observed that the artist tended to modify perceivable properties of the symbols between different versions of his works. Therefore, the symbols of Munch appear to be dynamic nodes in his artworks. In the third part of this study, Munchian symbolism is further studied from the perspective of creativity. In this section, Munch's imagery is approached through psychological concepts, such as perception, attention, memory, imagination, and emotions. In addition, artistic thinking of Munch is compared with problem solving activities and analysed through the concepts of apperception, restructuring, reflection and construction. In this context, Munchian symbols seem to function as tools in his creative thinking, and his pictures and texts illuminate different aspects in these symbols. ...
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
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