Creativity can come from different experiences, both tangible and imaginable, but I believe that how one physically interacts with the world greatly shapes how one imagines the world in their mind. One needs the experience of touching and interacting with physical objects in order to shape what can be imagined. McCullogh stated in “Hands” that “learning through the hands shapes creativity itself” and I feel this to be true.
In my experience working with fiber arts, I know each type of fiber to be different. Even when I feel like I know the material, each type of fiber still brings its own character to the piece to shape it – something that my mind could never predict until I physically interact with the fiber. My hands are guiding my mind through the experience, and shaping what is physically possible for my art (for example, thick wool with a tight knit yielding more of a structure than a stockinette with a more elastic yarn).
I feel the same is true with the latest advancements in Virtual Reality, where we try to capture different textures and physical experiences in the virtual space. I recently watched a Paper Fashion artist design a virtual reality dress (Video Demo Link, ~1:12:00), and it made me realize how fabric and fibers are more difficult to predict in both the physical and virtual world. As the artist created a dress in virtual reality with her hands, one could see her learning with each virtual textile she created with her hands. It was a new instantiation of “learning through the hands shapes creativity itself,” not the computer inherently being a tool for the mind. It was in this VR space that she was creating a new physical interaction through the computer to expand what is imaginable and capable for her art.