Re: [sl4] The Starving Artist Experiment

From: Amon Zero (
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 15:15:23 MST

I'm not aware of any experiments on "coerced improvement" (shall we say),
and I'd be surprised if you can find anything without doing some serious
reading between the lines (e.g. generalizing from animal experiments)
because of the ethical issues that would be involved in running such an
experiment. Perhaps old behaviourist operant conditioning experiments might
tell you want you want to know - no pat answers though I'm afraid, it's a
fairly vast literature.

- A

2009/11/3 Mark Nuzzolilo <>

> It would depend on MANY variables of course. The point I am trying to get
> at is that I have been pondering the possibility of a biofeedback device
> which can produce a similar effect, if carefully controlled. The
> fundamentals of the psychology behind the "Starving Artist" are more
> important than the variables of the experiment itself.
> On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 8:02 AM, Natasha Vita-More <>wrote:
>> 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
>> nonsense.
>> Natasha
>> [image: Nlogo1.tif] Natasha Vita-More <>
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* [] *On Behalf Of *Mark
>> Nuzzolilo
>> *Sent:* Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:15 AM
>> *To:*;;
>> *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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