Artistic vs Analytical/Analytical vs Artistic

Binaries exist in the realm of human cognition, and here we are not speaking of the binary code but the perception and labeling of opposites. For example terms such as left and right, be it in the context of directions or when we are thinking of political ideologues. It is argued that these binaries are only conceptual labels and that in reality we live in a spectrum between them. These labels however become necessary to ground and articulate the source of a discourse or an argument. We define these ends of the spectrum to create clarity to aid an individual or an organization to identify, align and appropriate a paradigm.

When we specifically compare different disciplines, fields or modes of thinking, we notice that this binary label is inevitable. For example, we can place art on one side and science on the other. This approach gets more tricky when we hone on to disciplines such as design which calls for combinations of both.

Design practice calls for a combination of artistic as well as analytical modes of approach and thinking. Design has become extremely relevant in this century since it is one such field which requires both modes of engagement approaching situations with a more holistic perspective. Lets us look at a specific example within design practice where the combinations of these modes of thinking has become paramount.

Brand consultancies inevitably use these seemingly opposing modes of thinking. When we are creating a sign system, symbol or experience to contain and express meaning that has to align with strategic goals, we are then dealing with these two seemingly opposing modes of approach. A brand has to communicate emotional cues and messaging, it also needs to align with the strategic goals. In this case, during the process of creating a sign system one has to analyze the intricacies of the strategic goals and then translate those insights into messages that create meaning through the senses. Or in other words, analytical insights lead to shape the multi sensorial experiences accordingly. The moment we speak of communicating to the senses we are already in the domain of the artist. Even if its is only words, it is no longer about the precision and clarity of the communication alone, but in the sensibility of triggering emotions. Then again it is not purely art, since this is not a case of artistic self expression alone.

The analytical mode dissects and deconstructs a situation, identifying, grouping and articulating some of the observations. Then by connecting the dots there is an attempt to create strategies that direct the artistic mode of production which creates experiences or artifacts. These artifacts are then evaluated through further analytical processes to identify their effects and impacts. These effects are then articulated so that it re-frames or refines the strategy. This process is not restricted to the case of branding but appears in many other disciplines within design practice and in some cases of fine arts.
We constantly move between analytical, rational, structured thinking as well as the creative, expressive and emotional states of mind in our daily lives. The human being and its collective whole is a combination of the hyper conscious and sub conscious. We are conditioned to move between these states of being on a daily basis during the most simple tasks to the most complex. How else did man notice the phenomenon of fire and learn to control it? The analytical observational mind must have perceived the cause and effects of fire and whereas the artistic and experimental side would have discovered the affects of fire to chance upon the idea of cooking or creating charcoal art.

When we look at these modes of thinking stripped from its usual connotation we begin to realize how it is applicable to different fields, vocations and activities. Let us look at something that is not closely related to our earlier examples. Sports teams are known to use extensive analysis to understand their patterns of movement. However we wonder what sorts of faculties are used to finally discern the overall strategy and individual game-play. Effective teams have learnt that they cannot predetermine and pre-plan every move. An individual member might identify an opportunity and then improvise. The rest of the team due to their rigorous training and sensitivity responds to this improvisation and then takes seemingly impulsive decisions which could lead to realization of a favorable end goal. Is that an artistic mode at play, in the sports team's realization of strategy ? It cannot be easily labelled as the analytical, then what else could it be ? It seems like between the artist, designer and the sport man we are looking at a state of mind which calls forth an intuitive decision making skill, which is shaped by previous learning, exercises and experiences. Does the accountant or scientist use intuition ? Did Newton really respond to the apple falling down from the tree ? Did the financial consultants interaction with a neighbor who had taken a housing loan trigger his absurd reaction to sell of some of the mortgage bond assets ? Can the sensitive, intuitive or artistic engagement inform and trigger analytical decision making ?

These cycles between modes of thinking has become instrumental to creating the world around us and has therefore been historically complimentary. It is awareness of these modes of thinking and mechanisms that really set the effectiveness in its usage and the degree to which one can harness their natural complementary nature. Perhaps we need to further explore the binaries of the world and discover the latent tensions between them.

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