on beauty

What makes a piece of work beautiful? Beyond the sheen of high production values, of course.

Robert Crease in The Prism And The Pendulum talks about the beauty of a scientific experiment, and in turn quotes G.M. Hardy in A Mathematiciana��s Apology describing the properties which make a mathematical proof beautiful.

The first two are unexpectedness and inevitability Actos generic launch ; the combination of these first two reminds me of the best answer to the story-question a�?what happens next?a�� – a�?that which I didna��t know I wanted to happen nexta��. And then economy – although I prefer elegance – and depth; the most elegant action with the greatest impact.

Crease also quotes Faraday on what makes an experiment beautiful, that it be a�?the best-acting thinga��, with depth, efficiency and definitiveness: that it answers its question once and for all.

I really like these, and reckon they extend into play. Ia��d picked up Creasea��s book again recently while prepping for a workshop for CogNovo, an experimental psychology lab on creativity in the University of Plymouth. In the workshop, Ia��d run a simple participatory experience – a set of games making a contest – in order to reflect on the experimental process (a bit of a homecoming for me, an ex-psychologist now making this kind of playing theatre).

In one of the games, The Gamea��s Afoot, youa��re collectively changing a game a rule at a time to try and make the game better for everyone, players and spectators. Ita��s a model of an iterative creative process. For each iteration, you ask the question a�?is it better?a�� or rather a bigger set of questions on whatever the dimensions of better matter for you, and discuss from everyonea��s perspective how it is better or not. And the inclusivity of the discussion makes this a lovely game for creating an open horizontal space where everyonea��s insight has equal value.

Ia��m used here to asking ‘is it more fun?’ ‘is it more balanced?’ ‘is it more resonant?’ for dimensions of what makes a game better. But can you ask ‘is it more beautiful?’ And can you thus simply iterate your way towards beauty, or does the quality of beauty also rely on a bolt of inspiration from somewhere outside the box?

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