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Here is a video from the Dean K. Simonton lecture: Scientific Creativity, the Science and the Art.

Csíkszentmihályi

Dr.Csíkszentmihályi’s talk centered around his concept of “flow”.
He described flow as the human state of mind where people are happiest when they are immersed in a specific activity of choice. Heed explain his concept of flow as being in an elevated state of consciousness where people are so aborbed in their work at hand that they feel removed from the physical world around them. He suggested that to be in this state of flow, a person must have a challenging scenario, and be skilled at the work being performed. According to his explanation, flow gets hindered if the the challenge or skills are unmatched. Both need to be at optimum levels to achieve the state of flow.
We see evidence of people in flow in life. When a painter reaches astate of flow, he is oblivious of the world around him other than focusing wholeheartedly in his work of art. Or, a reader who is engrossed in a reading activity and being lost to everything other than the content he is reading. Children too can be in the state of flow and removed from reality, by being involved in creative play and engaging their skills.
Though one cannot predict or force oneself to enter flow, it can be achieved through deep motivation and performance of an activity that interests a person. Dr.Csíkszentmihályi’s theory maintains that the state of flow is the path to joy and happiness in one’s work. There is a lot of similarity in his theory and the spiritual goals in Hindu meditation which aim to lead an individual into a higher states of consciousness through complete mental focus, thus fostering concentration and creativity through in a relaxed state of mind.

Raffaelo D’Andrea

Dr. Raffaelo D’Andrea’s talk was the most inspiring lectures of the entire series. As a designer, I was drawn to all of his creative ‘inventions’ which were concepts built into successful products using complex heuristic strategies. What made his lecture interesting was the ability of the audience to view his revolutionary concepts through videos, and listen to the collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts required to achieve them with the help of engineers, computer scientists and industrial designers.
One of his comments that I really valued was his opinion of simplicity in design in his creations. He mentioned that working with the basic functional components of a system usually determine the aesthetics of the final product. Elaborating on his way of working, he talked about how he commences on a project with a basic concept to fulfill a specific requirement. Eventualy, through a design process of intricate computation he achieves the complex behavior envisioned for the intial concept for the product. The aesthetics he mentioned, evolved around the requirements of the concept. This is evident in the ‘Robotic Chair’ and ‘The Table’. Even though both creations are technologically highly sophisticated and complex, instead of being designed to sport a modern appearance in furniture trends, they have the minimal physical aesthetics of basic wooden furniture.
Dr. D’Andrea did not offer his views on the future of robotics. However, among all the work that he shared in his lectures, I enjoyed Kiva the most. It is the closest experience I have encountered to the creation of intelligent robots in the real world to replace human labor.

Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson talked about his path to photography and the process of creating his photographic works of art. He created a connection between his photographic compositions of American homes and neighborhoods and his childhood years of growing up in a Brooklyn brownstone. He mentioned the surreal composition of his works were a probable connection to his childhood curiosities of the inner sanctum of his father’s pschychiatric office, which was out of bounds for him. He likened his neighborhood to that of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear window” where a viewer could get a voyeuristic view of the interiors of neighboring homes. He mentioned being inspired by painter Ed Hopper’s portrayal of people in his compositions, much like his own.
Crewdson commented on his dylexia and his difficulties with writing skills which made it difficult for him to use writing instruments. As a result, he never visualizes his concepts on paper, as most creative thinkers do. His process of ideation relies on his inner feelings which he dwells on during isolated moments to find creative inspiration. He mentioned swimming as one of those times which allows him to reflect and get ideas. After concepting an idea, he works with his team to produce the artwork. His work is strongly influenced by works of film makers of the fifties. Like the making of a film, his work is dependent on intensive pre-production and post-production schedules. He explained though that the stark difference between any film and his work was that his work captured only an instant in time, unlike films which have a continuity with the past or the future.
Though he wanted to be a pschychiatrist and had no plans of pursuing a career as a photographer, there is an interesting connection to Crewdson’s life story in a song he composed and titled “Let Me Take Your Foto”. The song was composed in his teenage days as part of a rock group he had formed with his friends. Years later, in 2005, after he gained fame through his photographic works, the song received publicity as part of Hewlett Packard’s promotional advertisement campaign. Interestingly, the title of the song chosen several decades earlier, seemed perfectly appropriate when used for the corporate publicity.

Gregory Crewdson talked about his path to photography and the process of creating his photographic works of art. He created a connection between his photographic compositions of American homes and neighborhoods and his childhood years of growing up in a Brooklyn brownstone. He mentioned the surreal composition of his works were a probable connection to his childhood curiosities of the inner sanctum of his father’s pschychiatric office, which was out of bounds for him. He likened his neighborhood to that of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear window” where a viewer could get a voyeuristic view of the interiors of neighboring homes. He mentioned being inspired by painter Ed Hopper’s portrayal of people in his compositions, much like his own.
Crewdson commented on his dylexia and his difficulties with writing skills which made it difficult for him to use writing instruments. As a result, he never visualizes his concepts on paper, as most creative thinkers do. His process of ideation relies on his inner feelings which he dwells on during isolated moments to find creative inspiration. He mentioned swimming as one of those times which allows him to reflect and get ideas. After concepting an idea, he works with his team to produce the artwork. His work is strongly influenced by works of film makers of the fifties. Like the making of a film, his work is dependent on intensive pre-production and post-production schedules. He explained though that the stark difference between any film and his work was that his work captured only an instant in time, unlike films which have a continuity with the past or the future.
Though he wanted to be a pschychiatrist and had no plans of pursuing a career as a photographer, there is an interesting connection to Crewdson’s life story in a song he composed and titled “Let Me Take Your Foto”. The song was composed in his teenage days as part of a rock group he had formed with his friends. Years later, in 2005, after he gained fame through his photographic works, the song received publicity as part of Hewlett Packard’s promotional advertisement campaign. Interestingly, the title of the song chosen several decades earlier, seemed perfectly appropriate when used for the corporate publicity.

Nersesian

Reading Dr.Nersesian’s book and attending the group meeting followed by her lecture last Thursday was a valuable experience for me. Apart from the insights derived from her talk capturing the way scientists think, it helped me reflect upon the thought process involved in problem solving. This session was especially beneficial following Dr.Simonton’s talk the week earlier with his views on the big “C”s referring to the pschycology of scientific and creative minds.
Dr.Nersesian discussed how throughout history we have evidence of scientists using analogical reasoning in the “social-cognitive-cultural-context” where they applied what they already knew to new domains to reach breakthroughs in their fields of work. What I found unvaluable was the outline she offered the group to follow for drawing analogies, both near or distant and applying it to imaginary models. Simply put, she advised the use of analogy or imagery and to look at the reasoning process in an integrated manner. She stressed on the initial part of the process as the stage to begin constructing from basic concepts, followed by developing physical or relative concepts. This would precede the step of deconstructing the information obtained when an individual  needed to start thinking intentionally and self-question “What am I trying to do?” She encouraged the listeners to break free of constraints and dare to be different from the existing situation at that moment. And, finally she suggested the use of diverse advancements in technology to find futuristic solutions, and test for plausibility. Throughout her talk, she reinforced the concept of using concrete imagery to introduce abstract concepts.
I agree with Dr.Nersesian’s views on creative inventions happenning as a result of model-based reasoning for problem solving. Though her talk focused on scientists and scientific discoveries (she offered examples of Maxwell and Rutherford’s work), I tend to believe the reasoning process would apply to other fields as well. As a graphic designer, I have always relied on the ‘design process’ as a guide to arrive at visual communication solutions for creative projects. I would hesitate to entirely eliminate the circumstance of the birth of a new concept arising in a flash of inspiration. It does happen, though it is definitely not an everyday occurence.

Reading Dr.Nersesian’s book and attending the group meeting followed by her lecture last Thursday was a valuable experience for me. Apart from the insights derived from her talk capturing the way scientists think, it helped me reflect upon the thought process involved in problem solving. This session was especially beneficial following Dr.Simonton’s talk the week earlier with his views on the big “C”s referring to the pschycology of scientific and creative minds.
Dr.Nersesian discussed how throughout history we have evidence of scientists using analogical reasoning in the “social-cognitive-cultural-context” where they applied what they already knew to new domains to reach breakthroughs in their fields of work. What I found unvaluable was the outline she offered the group to follow for drawing analogies, both near or distant and applying it to imaginary models. Simply put, she advised the use of analogy or imagery and to look at the reasoning process in an integrated manner. She stressed on the initial part of the process as the stage to begin constructing from basic concepts, followed by developing physical or relative concepts. This would precede the step of deconstructing the information obtained when an individual  needed to start thinking intentionally and self-question “What am I trying to do?” She encouraged the listeners to break free of constraints and dare to be different from the existing situation at that moment. And, finally she suggested the use of diverse advancements in technology to find futuristic solutions, and test for plausibility. Throughout her talk, she reinforced the concept of using concrete imagery to introduce abstract concepts.
I agree with Dr.Nersesian’s views on creative inventions happenning as a result of model-based reasoning for problem solving. Though her talk focused on scientists and scientific discoveries (she offered examples of Maxwell and Rutherford’s work), I tend to believe the reasoning process would apply to other fields as well. As a graphic designer, I have always relied on the ‘design process’ as a guide to arrive at visual communication solutions for creative projects. I would hesitate to entirely eliminate the circumstance of the birth of a new concept arising in a flash of inspiration. It does happen, though it is definitely not an everyday occurence.

Simonton

Dr.Simonton’s lecture offered an insight into the classical concepts of the hard and soft fields of studies and their specific characteristics.
I am skeptical about some of his concepts of polarizing the sciences and the arts with respect to creativity and the correlation made between artistic personalities and the insanity based on the few examples cited. Dr.Simonton commented on differences in types of creativity and the distinction between the creativity of an artist and that of a scientist. While both an artistic and a scientist require creativity to pursue their specific creative processes, the creativity required for each are different, and according to Dr.Simonton, it is the differences in their personality that make them follow their chosen fields. He also stated that scientific creativity is more structured than artistic creativity which can be unrestrained. He pointed to this being a possible outcome of an array of environmental socio-cultural influences. He noted that several artists came from an unstable family background, which resulted in their ability to be unstructured in their creative thought process, which is a probable connection to artists showing a higher rate of mental instability.
Though his concepts polarized the sciences and the arts, he did talk about his views on the growing hybridization of the two fields. As a graduate student in Arts and Technology, my work lies at the intersection of the arts, the ‘softer’ domain of humanities and the ‘harder’ areas of technology. In present times, art and design are being represented in the digital media of virtual spaces, which being an electronic medium, is in the scientific domain of technology.In today’s world, it is not impossible to envision a future where the classical segregation of the scientific and artistic creativity may merge seamlessly.
Overall, Dr.Simonton’s reading material as well as the group meeting and the lecture was interesting and enjoyable.

At the start of the project I was very interested in teaching the “creative process” using games. Starting the semester I had no idea where to begin or what the creative process really was, at least in a demystified enough way that could then be translated in the logic rule structure of a game. At the time, I had no idea what it was I wanted to teach specifically or who the audience for the game would be. Basically I had no starting point.

Meeting with Dr. Simonton in the morning help start the process in my brain. I was instantly fascinated with the Mutilated Checkerboard problem he described mainly because of the sequential process the experiment took on getting increasingly abstract yielding better and better results.

At the very end of Nancy Nersessian’s presentation during the the Q&A she mentioned how her idea that the doodles in Newton’s notebooks and the importance of abstract relationships was completely lost in the current American education system. That was the void that presented itself for me to fill. That was when I knew where to focus the game and what to focus on.

At this point the common theme that started presenting itself is the idea of metaphor and applying abstract elements to solve seemingly unrelated problems. I knew I wanted to teach an element of the creative process instead of just creating a game that helps facilitate creativity. Metaphor was that element. From here it seemed like the best way to teach this concept of metaphor was by using the Mutilated Checkerboard problem that Dr. Simonton presented to slowly try and get the player to come to the solution.

Meeting Crewdson was reassuring because it was a practical example of metaphor in practice. Crewdson getting his ideas while swimming is a prime use of metaphor and was a huge confidence boost that I was on the right track.

Unfortunately, while meeting Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was incredibly informative, it began a series of road blocks making this challenge increasingly difficult the deeper I looked into the problem. One key road block that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talk about is how to achieve flow in a learning environment. It requires a constant feedback loop between the teacher and the student so the challenge is always matched to the student’s skill and there aren’t any external distractions. This constant feedback is a problem many games deal with. Constant tweaks to AI are required, difficulty levels, and various control schemes are used to try and simplify this feedback loop. Naturally this problem became amplified in this project because maintaing that flow is so important in causing the player to have the “Eureka” moment to solve the problem.

After this first setback was a process of a few steps forward and a few steps backwards. Every time I had a good idea of how to tackle a flaw in the design a new flaw would present itself. By the end I think there are still major flaws with the design that requires a fundamental change in the core concept of how to teach the concept of metaphor.

The “Eureka” forum was very encouraging for me because of Dean Dennis Kratz’s anecdotal story about how the “Eureka” moment may not hit you for years after you stop working on a problem. He too had an idea he was dissatisfied with that he had to continue and see through to the finish, but he was still able to reach the resolution he was searching for years later. This is how I feel right now with this project because it just does not feel right, but I may still come to a realization some time in the future that will give me the breakthrough I have been searching for all semester. I still think games can be used to help teach part of the creative process, but this game is not it. It is a good attempt and sometimes an idea has to fail before it can succeed.

Mutilated Checkerboard Game.pdf

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