RE: [sl4] The Starving Artist Experiment

From: Natasha Vita-More (
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 08:02:20 MST

What if the artist does not draw at all? What if s/he creates interactive
games, programs Ai-robotics, clones cells, or writes theory?
Putting that aside, to answer your question, it seems it would depend on the
emotional state of the artist and whether s/he works will under pressure.
Motivation is a meaningful partner when trying to survive. I suppose that
most folks would improve their skill level to survive - drawing
(metaphorically) from their knowledge base and bringing forth forgotten
skills, or ideas, of how others have done it (most artists study the masters
in undergraduate school and would remember what da Vinci's images looked
like), and then try to implement that style.
But the myth of "starving artist" is really a bit of a turn-off because it
suggests that artists are at the mercy of a church, an institution, or a
patron and not clever enough to build a sound business. The Van Gough
syndrome has been damaging to the arts because one expects genius to foster
insanity (not to mention the fact that Van Gough put his chemically-fueled
paintbrushes in his mouth and thereby actually ate metals - which most
likely caused or added to his mental confusion).
I'll quickly mention another myth -- that artists have to wait to become
famous until after they die. Equally as disparaging - so we suffer and die
and then collectors make their bucks. Thumbs down on this old-world

Nlogo1.tif <> Natasha Vita-More



From: [] On Behalf Of Mark
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:15 AM
Subject: [sl4] The Starving Artist Experiment

Suppose I were to take a willing participant in captivity, who does not know
how to draw art very well, and deprive him of food for a day or two.
Thereafter I would put in front of him his favorite food, and tell him that
unless he draws me a decent picture of something, the food will be given
away to somebody else. For this thought experiment, I would like you to
assume that the effects of hunger on the human mind and body are not
significantly inhibiting in any way his "regular" ability to think or draw.

The question is, will he then draw greatly above his previous skill level?
What implications does this have for intelligence, and has there been any
research into intelligence or psychology using this type of approach or
concept? Keep in mind that there are also other potential motivators other
than hunger.

Mark Nuzzolilo


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