First, I do need to conduct a small rant: Noel clearly suffers from either verbosity or “smartest man in the room” complex – most likely both. Perhaps it’s his philosiphitizing, but when you have paragraph sentences, it’s either a sign that brevity is not one of your virtues or you consider your thought so damn important it has to come out in one sentence for our lesser minds to unpack and ponder upon. For example:

“Perhaps the most important service that description performs is to segregate out for attention the parts and relations of the work that the critical analysis or interpretation goes on most often typically to demonstrate as belonging to a functionally organized whole worthy of evaluative commendation for its artistic achievement of unity.”

I’m sorry, but WTF Noel? Is that even a real sentence?

Apologies, but reading that left me with a true WTF moment. Maybe that’s what the author intended – if so, they succeeded.

Anyways, on to the main event – the montage and creativity. It was recently brought to my attention by a photojournalist friend at the Indianapolis Star that creativity could, in some cases, be considered a finite resource in a particular category. He posted the following image:

photo_crit

With the following critique:

“This is cool and all, but what’s with all the imagery these days of lone shadowy figures in the distance of outdoor scenes (look at instagram feeds by _sextape and abaa for more examples)? 

Like a bunch of Diane Arbus fans watched The Ring about 100 times.”

This actually got me thinking – if Noel is correct, and part of our goal as critics is to categorize works (for instance, in a genre), can a particular influx of works into that genre over a small period of time have an effect on how “creative” we perceive that work to be? For instance, my friend critiqued that particular photo as being “cool”, but also criticized it for being just another photo in a genre that is currently popular. Because photos with its particular thematic elements are currently popular, one could infer that my friend considers it be less creative, as though it might be drawing too much inspiration from an overused aesthetic. In a sense, the photo has become “cliche”. We can see this with movies, music, clothes. A more colloquial way to describe this phenomenon might be “In Style”.

I was reminded of this when Noel started talking about Montage, and Soviet filmmaking. The montage is almost abhorrently common, and although it might fulfill its intention of “holding onto the attention of viewers by means of rapidly alternating shots that kept viewers irresistibly glued to the screen”, does its commonality degrade its creativity? Trey Parker and Matt Stone went so far as to parody the montage in “Team America: World Police”

When it comes to criticism, and assessing a particular level of creativity, how important is it to consider the oversaturation of a particular genre or category? Clearly, such a phenomenon does exist, but my question is how important is is for us a critics to pay attention to it and consider it as part of our criticism?

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