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Story of Evolution, Evolution of Stories
Bryn Mawr College, Spring 2004
First Web Paper
On Serendip

Evolution as a Creative Process

Margaret Folcarelli

Evolution is a process that has taken billions of years, and will continue for billions more.
It takes hundreds of generations for an evolutionary change to occur, or an impending extinction
to become evident. Humans find it difficult to see themselves evolving due to their longer life
span, and fewer generations over time compared to other species. It has become a common
misconception that humans are finished evolving, and that they have reached the best and most
efficient beings possible. The same misconception can be carried over to art. The main
questions being posed in this paper are: can evolution be viewed as a creative process like the art
world? Can there be anything new in both art and evolution?

In the history of any kind of art, whether visual, musical, or technological there are
patterns that progress from the very simple to the more complex, the more successful forms of art
are then recycled later on. This is much like the evolution of life on earth. The first organisms
were tiny, and relatively simple. As creatures evolved they became more complex, and as
extinctions occurred new creatures evolved, that were different versions of the past creatures.
The first examples of visual art can be found in the Paleolithic era of human evolution. The art
from this time period included cave paintings deep underground in Europe. These paintings
depict hunting scenes, and different animals, on occasion a human, but very rarely. From these
paintings more rock art and sculpture began to appear. Throughout the history of humans art has
evolved, from basic cave art to temples, and sculptures, and murals. In modern history can new
art be created? Art has already become abstract, what other forms can it take? It is difficult to
predict the next step based on past history, the same way it is for humans.

Music began with singing, and human noise, followed by drums, and pipes, and bells.
This continued through until more instruments were created and more complex songs were
written. Harmony started appearing and then choral groups, chanting, symphonies, operas. In
the past century jazz, rock and roll, and rap have all evolved transforming the same sounds that
were used in the past. What is the next step for music? Can any new types of music or
instruments be invented? The piano evolved into the harpsichord, the lute into the guitar. How
can we predict what will come next instrumentally.

Technology is the only art that is still evolving at a rapid pace. The past hundred years
have produced more changes in technology that in the rest of history. The trend originally was
toward bigger, better creations. Huge cars, huge computers, cd players, and cameras. This has
now turned around and everything is being made more compact. Why is this? Is this the next
step in our evolution as humans? All of our technology is now handheld, mini coopers are
becoming increasingly popular, cameras are palm-sized. The creative world of technology is
rapidly changing and evolving.

Looking at evolution through a creative perspective, is it as creative as humans are?
Have other species evolved on our planet as rapidly as human art? What is the next step? Will
there be anything new? What will become extinct, and what will change into a hybrid? These
questions are all pertinent and very interesting. Some of them are answerable, for example,
evolution is much more creative than humans. The variety of species that have existed on the
planet cannot begin to compare to human creations over the past hundred thousand years.
Evolution is so much slower than humans' lives that it is difficult for humans to put it into
perspective. People are so wrapped up in the day to day life, and so focused on a small time
frame that the evolutionary process goes unnoticed to most humans.

If the other species of the planet are studied, there have been many creative changes in the
species of the world comparable to human creativity. The megafauna that used to exist in
America became extinct, and was replaced by much smaller creatures, such as large cats, and
horses, and buffalo. The enormous sharks and sea creatures that existed millions of years ago
with the dinosaurs slowly became much smaller and other fish became much bigger. Evolution
is unpredictable, and random which is its beauty and source of creativity. For example, the
dolphin is more closely related to the wolf, than the shark ( ).
Creativity does not have to be a conscious act, it is the end result that is important. A toddler
doodling on a page with crayons can inadvertently create a masterpiece.

It is difficult to see something scientific as creative at the same time. Yet evolution is the
ultimate example of creativity. The gene pool is a palette that can be mixed and changed and
there are infinite possibilities. Much like there will be no end to humans capacity for creativity,
though it may slow down, evolution will continue to change the species on the planet today. As
far as art is concerned, here is always somewhere to go. There is always another niche to fill.
There are infinite possibilities, and as Vincent Desiderio demonstrates in his new painting
"Cockaigne" there are always new ways to be creative, even if it requires reworking the old

Humans will evolve, in what direction, it is not evident. The same is true for any artistic
endeavors. The fact that evolution will continue is concrete both in art and in life, and that in
itself if a proof of its creativity. Evolution's capability to surprise, and change humans' views of
the world makes it the most creative force on our planet, and the most astonishing phenomenon
to occur on Earth.


"A 10-year-long Art History Course"The New York Times, February 1, 2004


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