06_Creative Practice Project Ideas-v03



To identify and evaluate a series of creative themes and ideas for your Masters project.


During this activity, you will produce the first visual representation for your Masters project themes and ideas for discussion.


The suggested time allocation for this activity is 5 hours.


In previous activities in this module, you have reflected upon your aims and your expectations of postgraduate study and considered how your previous experiences and interests might inform your creative work on this programme.

Now, I would like you to begin consideration of potential themes for your Master’s project and the initial creative ideas and directions you may have.

I would like you to use the allocated time for this activity to produce visual outcomes (which may include sketches, models, drawings, images, photographs) you feel appropriate to articulate your initial project themes and ideas in a practical way.

There is no right or wrong response to this activity and you are not expected to produce any refined piece of work by the end of the activity.

You should consider this activity as an opportunity to transform your previous reflections and critical thoughts into visual outcomes. This is the first opportunity to produce creative work-in-progress related to your project ideas. Think about your past work, your aims and ideas and feel free to experiment with your practice.

Thesis Idea: The Curiosity Gap

Brief description

A curiosity gap is created wherever crucial information is missing, it’s a technique used in many different creative situations, as it easily promotes increased user participation and involvement.
It’s a device used in all thrillers, the consumer is given just enough information to pique his or her interest, this creates a strong desire for resolution, it promotes curiosity as to the final outcome, and therefore leads to far greater consumer involvement. 

The consumer stays until the very end, until the solution is finally revealed, promoting a strong sense of satisfaction, the reward. 

But not all information gaps are equal, the case of the thriller is binary, “do I have the information or not?” , whereas a absence of information in a photographic image can be more subtle, maybe due to a lack of definition caused by insufficient focus, or careful framing, whereby key features are partially missing or obscured. 

I propose to investigate the psychological phenomena of the curiosity gap and advocate its significance and potential use as it relates to photography and the process of seeing.
Careful use of focus, motion blur, shadow etc, can create information gaps in an image, promoting curiosity, which due to the nature of vision, the interaction between the eye and the brain, context is self generated and meaning created within the mind of the viewer, and that the viewer is unaware of this process, as it utilises the same process that masks the presence of the punctum caecum, the eye’s blind spot. 

And I put forward the argument, that awareness and mastery of these techniques, leads to far more compelling photography. 

Artistic and academic significance of the project

A few years ago the psychologist Professor Ewan Polmann decided to run a very interesting experiment, he wanted to know if he could influence people’s behaviour by the process of awakening their curiosity. 

And so, at the bottom of an office stairwell near an elevator he posted a simple trivia question, and below this another note: 

“The answer is at the top of the stairs.” 

It led to a 10% increase in the use of the stairs, a healthy change of behaviour which is notoriously difficult to achieve using other more traditional methods.
What was surprising was the strength of the effect, that once curiosity has been piqued, that people experience a need for closure, there is a strong desire for the missing information, something to fill the curiosity gap. 

This phenomena is however not just restricted to cryptic messages written on post-it notes in office complexes, it can actually be observed almost everywhere, in art, design, film, fiction, and online as click-bait: “You’ll never believe what happened next…“. 

Utilising the curiosity or information gap can lead to far greater creativity, particularly in the field of photography, as demonstrated when taken to the extremes of abstract photography, where all meaning is lost, and the image derives meaning on a purely emotional level. Modern photography often relies on technical perfection, as lenses become ever sharper, and cameras ever more powerful, but this often leads to cold, emotionless images, whereas slightly less technical perfection is often more pleasing on a subconscious level. 

A potential case for the utilisation of the curiosity gap would be German Street Photography.
German Street Photography suffers greatly because of the country’s rather strict laws governing the rights of the individual to their own image. 

It has led to a situation whereby a large proportion of German Street Photography is now just images of individuals, taken from behind, as they struggle home with their weekly shopping, or totally over-exposed in an attempt to disguise an individual’s identity, by casting them into artificial shadow, or even more worryingly, often just taken abroad on holiday, in countries where laws are not quite so strict, and the risk of legal action is very much reduced, and as such can be seen as a modern form of exploitation. 

And yet this is not actually directly a problem of the law, it’s a problem of perception, the law has inadvertently created a general lack of creativity, as photographers worry far more about being harassed on the streets by irate pedestrians, hell bent on defending their rights, rather than concentrating on the artistic merit of their images, particularly as Street Photography is not actually synonymous with Street Portraiture, there’s no demand that a face has to be visible, pin sharp in-focus, no one even needs to be recognisable. Especially because there are various techniques and tools available to the photographer, to ensure that interesting and relevant images can still be created, without resorting to the mundane and tedious. 

Possible methods

Not everything about a good photograph has to be available to see, the act of leaving some of the desired information or context missing, by prudent use of the following: 

  • Soft focus
  • Shallow depth of field effects, including tilt/shift lenses
  • Movement: Slow shutter speeds, causing motion blur
  • Framing: The use of unusual cropping and framing
  • Composition: The use of unconventional compositions
  • Negative space
  • Lighting: The use of shadow to obscure features
  • Silhouette
  • Geometry
  • Reflections
  • Glare
  • Multiple exposures

These can create a sense of intrigue, and thereby a deeper involvement on the part of the viewer. 

In fact, the brain will automatically start to fill in the missing information, creating its own narrative, its own reality, which can be an effective tool in creating empathy. 

Test instruments

A photography project and/or exhibition including all the different methods of creating a curiosity gap, together with similar versions of each image, but with all the information intact, as a method of testing the theory. 

Qualifying results

The appreciation of art is very subjective, and therefore surveys can be very misleading, as participants are rarely aware of their lack of objectivity, and so it is suggested that two complimentary methodologies be used in attempting to quantify the effect of the curiosity gap, or the lack of one: 

  1. A quick survey (scoring 1-5) containing questions regarding the different aspects of each image, to be filled out by the participants as each of the different images is viewed. 
  2. To obtain a more objective set of results, the presentation of the work will be filmed and the amount of time each participant lingers in front of the different images will be recorded. 

All results, the answers to the written survey and recorded times, will be collated in a spreadsheet, and the results then analysed. 

How curious are you?


Research: Bibliography


THE LOYALTY LOOP (2018). How to Earn Attention in a Noisy Online World | Marketing Using the Curiosity Gap. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEyQ4N-EpAU. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]

TECHNOLOGY CONNECTIONS (2020). Brown; Color is weird. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh4aWZRtTwU. [Accessed: 02 November 2020]


THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION (2016). Curiosity Has the Power to Change Behavior for the Better. [Online] Available at: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/curiosity-behavior. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]

CASSANDRA TANG (2019). The Curiosity Gap. [Online] Available at: https://cassandra-tang.com/the-curiosity-gap/. [Accessed: 22 January 2020]

SKYWORD (2018). The Curiosity Gap: How Consumer Psychology Is Driven by What’s Missing. [Online] Available at: https://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/the-curiosity-gap-how-consumer-psychology-is-driven-by-whats-missing/. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]

DEMAND GEN REPORT (2018). Minding The Curiosity Gap: Brightcove PLAY 2019 Shares Insights To Engage, Retain Buyers With Video Content. [Online] Available at: https://www.demandgenreport.com/features/industry-insights/minding-the-curiosity-gap-brightcove-play-2019-shares-insights-to-engage-retain-buyers-with-video-content. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]


R.L.GREGORY (1966). Eye and Brain, The psychology of seeing. New York: World University Press


  • Joshua K. Jackson
  • Chris Friel

Alternative ideas

A photograph is but a representation of reality
  • What is reality?
  • How do we perceive reality?
  • Are all realities equal, or are some more equal than others? 
  • Synesthesia
  • The curiosity gap 
  • 2nd law of Thermodynamics
  • Everything always gets worse
  • The universe must reach a point of maximum entropy
  • This applies to everything, even life itself, everything is mortal. And yet life is only possible because of it.
  • Reality vs Hope
  • Hope = Driving force behind the will/struggle to survive 
Colour theory
  • Something about colour theory
  • Magenta as a colour doesn’t exist 
  • You watch a film, but look at a picture 
Berlin Odyssey
  • Homer’s Odyssey set in Berlin 
Psychology, learning to see
  • Title: The mirror of illusion
  • How do Namibian Himbas see colour? 

GONDWANA COLLECTION NAMIBIA (2016). How do Namibian Himbas see colour?. [Online] Available at: https://www.gondwana-collection.com/blog/how-do-namibian-himbas-see-colour/. [Accessed: 06 October 2020].

  • Earthrise

WIKIPEDIA (2020). Earthrise. [Online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthrise. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]

  • Magenta isn’t a real color? 

BOINGBOING (2009). Magenta isn’t a real color?. [Online] Available at: https://boingboing.net/2009/02/16/magenta-isnt-a-real.html. [Accessed: 06 October 2020]


I get the feeling that I’m maybe already too far ahead with this project, but it’s always been quite obvious to me in which direction my interest lies, as is probably quite obvious, as all my ideas center around the same field.

My main interest lies mainly with the psychology of seeing and how the brain makes sense of its surroundings, this sort of thing has always fascinated me. but exactly what my project will be, will hopefully crystallise itself over the coming weeks, but any suggestions and/or guidance would be very much apprieciated. 

Further Research


CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE (2018). The Curiosity Factor – Andrew Davis. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KfiTqVoxdI&t=5s. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

Has no ending, but does reference a very good IKEA TV advertisement

TEDx TALKS (2012). The Case for Curiosity: Mario Livio at TEDxMidAtlantic 2012. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ojyXVVFKA. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

This is very good and informative, several very good ideas.

BRAINCRAFT (2018). The Power of Curiosity. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc5IFNpi43A. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

Some very good ideas.

INTERNET MARKETING KICKSTART (2019). how to use the curiosity gap to drive your readers into a click frenzy. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_dLaqDmKYE. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

The usual blurb.

TEDx TALKS (2015). After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd | TEDxVancouver. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNHBMFCzznE. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

Very good !!

42COURSES (2020). The Curiosity Gap – Rory Sutherland. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrnKSu9gUso. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

Interesting talk, also regarding Hitchcock.

JOE SCOTT (2020). 3 Ways Your Mind Lies To You | Answers With Joe. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyu7HAjjmJ0. [Accessed: 11 October 2020]

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