Does the ever-present screen jeopardise creativity?

Andrea Simpson

Prestigious Australian screen and stage writers discuss technology’s incessant screens and their potential impact on creativity.
Does the ever-present screen jeopardise creativity?

Performer and filmmaker Nell Schofield.

The advancement of screen-based information technology has overhauled and revolutionised many aspects of creative life. It’s allowed artists to innovate and express themselves independently when it comes to creating and presenting their work. But what is the impact of plastering artworks across Instagram and viewing films on smartphones instead of cinema screens – have such developments de-valued the arts? Has it reduced our attention span to 10 seconds? Is creativity in crisis?

ADVERTISEMENT

‘The world is facing a bit of a meltdown,’ said performer and filmmaker Nell Schofield. ‘There’s climate chaos, over-population and all sorts of other issues and I think there is a big question around whether information technology is a help or hindrance.’

Schofield is the panel host for In Conversation: Writing in the Age of the Technological Apocolypse, taking place at NIDA’s Parade Theatre, Kensington on 10 April.

She will be joined by acclaimed playwright Michael Gow; screenwriter of Oscar nominated films John Collee; award-winning playwright Alana Valentine, and Dr Stephen Sewell, NIDA’s Head of Writing for Performance.

‘When everyone can click and get whatever they want at a touch of a button, what is the value of creativity? What is the value of writing for the theatre in the modern age?’ Schofield told ArtsHub.

Dr Stephen Sewell, one of Australia’s most experienced playwrights, has noted the increased global emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) leaving the value of creativity behind.

‘With such an emphasis on STEM and a decline in funding for the arts it can be confronting for writers in the performance area,’ Sewell said, noting that some studies have observed a correlation between the rise of screen technologies and a measurable decrease in creativity.

Does society value creativity?

Keeping an open mind about technology, Schofield said, ‘I don’t think we can resist the flow of screen based and internet driven technology. We have to keep ourselves open to new technologies and their possibilities. We need to understand the difference between a positive and  a negative in this realm.’

She is also interested in exploring the role of writers and storytellers in our modern society.

‘I think in many ways writers  feel like they are being steamrolled and disempowered with the roll-out of high-technology.’

At the same time, Schofield noted that though technology appeared to be taking over in the creative realm it could never replace society’s fundamental need for humanities and the arts. And that means we need storytellers, scribes, writers, to bring our experiences to life.

‘Coming together at the theatre to hear stories is a ritual that’s been taking place since the ancient Romans and Greeks. Everyone wants to connect and feel connected,’ she said.

Schofield believes that our desires for connection and creativity are fundamental to being human, and can never replaced by a click on a screen. 

‘An asteroid could hit Earth and technology could crash – we would still be able to gather in a space and tell stories. That is human nature and that’s how we work out who we are, and how we connect with each other,’ she said.

In Conversation: Writing in the Age of the Technological Apocolypse

Date: Wednesday 10 April 2019 6:30PM 
Venue: NIDA Theatres, Parade Theatre, Anzac Parade, Kensington 2033
Tickets: $25/$15 concession online at nida.edu.au/productions 
For more information: https://www.nida.edu.au/about-nida/news/writers-in-conversation-at-nida

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy