The Creative Lives of Animals

New York Univ. Nov. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781479815449. $30. SCI
Gigliotti (emerita, design, Emily Carr Univ.; Leonardo’s Choice) examines whether the current definitions of creativity include animal behaviors, and what this reevaluation would mean for the value of animals and the understanding of the creative process. The author defines creativity as the process in which individuals invent new and meaningful behaviors that have the possibility of affecting others at multiple levels. In practice, this means innovative solutions to technical, social, or artistic problems. She builds the case that animals of all types—from elephants to ants—are intelligent, albeit in ways that may manifest differently than humans, and they can communicate nuance, allowing individual behavioral innovation to spread through a community. Creativity may be expressed or nurtured in play, construction, and tool use. In what feels like a bit of a divergence, the final chapters investigate whether emotion, culture, and morality are intrinsically tied to creativity. Ultimately, Gigliotti’s agenda is to seek greater empathy, value, and protection for animals by including them into a global creative force.
VERDICT This broad survey of creative animal behavior will appeal to artists of all types and to animal lovers.
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