The "Butterfly Effect" in Collaborative Creativity: Turning the Light on Transformation

By Cali Prince.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: May 20, 2016 $US5.00

Invoking the metaphor of the "butterfly effect," I explore how creative collaborations between artists, people in their communities, and institutions can be a powerful cultivator and catalyst for nonlinear effects and transformations. Drawing on practice-led research, this metaphor is explored as a tool to deepen the understanding that small collaborative creative actions can result in significant transformations and/or unexpected effects. The butterfly effect is viewed through a sequence of interconnected and iterative projects that have ripple effects, leading to further actions and transformations. Illustrated by the case project Magical Playspaces, I reveal how the collaborative creative process resulted in enhanced democratic decision making by residents with artists and local government. I propose that a "fourth space" may emerge from these processes, which is beyond the control of any one actor. Acknowledging that many of the effects are beyond linear measurement, I propose the butterfly effect as a blueprint for interdisciplinary teams to support the complexity emerging in these processes. The fertile space of the unknown can generate the discovery of new forms of knowing together, offering greater potential for innovation and participatory change both within and outside of established hierarchical structures. This is explored using elements of narrative inquiry, arts-based action research and ethnography.

Keywords: Collaborative Creativity, Transformation, Practice-led Research

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 11, Issue 3, September, 2016, pp.23-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: May 20, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.107MB)).

Cali Prince

Doctoral Candidate, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia