“Minding the Gap”: Imagination, Creativity and Human Cognition
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Inquiry into the nature of mental images is a major topic in psychology where research is focused on the psychological faculties of imagination and creativity. In this paper, we draw on the work of L.S. Vygotsky to develop a cultural-historical approach to the study of imagination as central to human cognitive processes. We characterize imagination as a process of image making that resolves “gaps” arising from biological and cultural-historical constraints, and that enables ongoing time-space coordination necessary for thought and action. After presenting some basic theoretical considerations, we offer a series of examples to illustrate for the reader the diversity of processes of imagination as image making. Applying our arguments to contemporary digital media, we argue that a cultural-historical approach to image formation is important for understanding how imagination and creativity are distinct, yet inter-penetrating processes.
KeywordsImage Imagination Creativity Vygotsky Cultural-historical theory
Our thanks to the anonymous reviewers whose insightful remarks and comments greatly improved our arguments, and also to Sanford I. Berman whose financial support through the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego made this work possible.
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