The Need For Cognitive Closure in ArtWorks -Blog 1

The Need For Cognitive Closure in Art Works

I am currently working on my thesis final art project veering towards the end. I would like to share what I have been up to.

The need for cognitive closure is a psychological term which describes the level of a person’s tolerance towards a firm answer. To test whether one possesses a high or low need for closure, 5 variables are taken into consideration, namely: order, predictability, unambiguity, decisiveness and close-mindedness. If a person associates with all 5 variables then h/she has a high need for cognitive closure.  These 5 variable which were determined by Webster and Kruglanski, intrigued me.

I wanted to create a work of art that portrayed these qualities which in turn would affect people having a high NFC. I then married this concept with the topic of ‘The Unfinished’. Baum’s essay called The Raw and the Cooked: Unfinishedness in Twentieth-and Twenty-First-Century Art, 2016 mentioned 4 types of contemporary unfinished art. These are: The Participator (the mind’s eye filling in the missing pieces), The Entropic (decay or degradation, a constantly changing process), The Infinite (no beginning and no end, therefore impossible to portray completeness) and The Provisional (the style of the abstract impressionists where it is felt that completeness can never be reached) (2016 pp. 208-215).

For a long time, I have been fascinated with how the mind perceives the world, as it can play a strong role in how one observes and appreciates an artwork. When reading about the contemporary, unfinished style called ‘The Participator’, I immediately knew that I wanted to create a work which had these qualities.

In order to create something unfinished, I cleared my mind and focused on experimenting and working with chance. For this to work, I felt that the type of medium would play a lead role in the production of my artwork.

I started looking into film photography and how people have made ‘mistakes’ by losing half of the image information due to overexposure. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to learn how to take and develop analogue photographs.  In order to create an image, one has to go through several developing processes, and as this is a very delicate process, one mistake can ruin the negatives or the actual print.

Ansel Adams stated: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”. This technique makes it possible to create an unfinished artwork.

I started to look into ways how film can be damaged: before taking an image, after taking an image, during developing and after developing. The mishaps can give unexpected, interesting results.

I decided to start creating experiments using techniques after developing the film, as I wanted some control in the final results, and found it hard to ruin the negatives, thus resulting in retaking the images if I did not like the result.


My next blog will show my journey from the development process to the final piece.



Baum. K., 2016. The Raw and the Cooked:Unfinishedness in Twentieth-and Twenty-First-Century Art. In: Baum, k., Bayer, A., and Wagstaff, S., 2016. Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp.206-215.

Webster, M.D. and Kruglanski, W.A., 1994. Individual Differences in Need for Cognitive Closure. [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed 29th May 2017].


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