Constraints & Abstraction

  • I was struck by Rand’s claim that constraints can promote creative expression rather than inhibit it.
  • In his Tangrams example, he argues that while the pieces themselves are limited by simple geometry, they can encourage a student to think abstractly about what each shape can represent.  For example, in the image posted by Karen MacKay, Daniele Lago imagines the triangle as a person’s foot.
  • However one of our classmates observed that while constraints may inspire beginners, experts may find them obstructing instead.
  • Rand alludes to this as well.   He suggests that once a student has mastered the basic principles of a discipline, she can decide when to twist the rules or dismiss constraints.  Maybe in some cases, an artist’s deep understanding of what constitutes tradition can help him break from it.
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