The Art in The Machine

“Empathy” — original work coded in Processing.

I. Creativity, A Human Experience

  • Greek philosophers like Plato rejected the concept of creativity, preferring to see art as a form of discovery. When asked in The Republic, “Will we say, of a painter, that he makes something?”, Plato answers “Certainly not, he merely imitates” [3]. This draws from his conviction that, epistemologically, everything already exists. This, at least sets a space for discussion in the matter of originality.
  • In 1926, G. Wallas quoted Helmholtz in [4], describing the creative process in a bottom-up fashion by dissection into four stages: (i) preparation, preparatory work on a problem focusing on exploring its dimensions, (ii) incubation, internalizing it into the unconscious mind while apparently idling the external activity, (iii) insight or illumination, with the arrival of the apparently serendipitous “a-ha” moment that pushes the creative idea from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness, and (iv) verification, where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated and then applied. This segmentation, while appealing to the heuristic reader, also brings an apparent conscious/unconscious duality to the game.
  • In 1964, Arthur Koestler attempted to develop a general theory of human creativity by defining the essence of creativity as “the perceiving of a situation or idea […] in two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference” [6], thus implying some kind of disruption in a matrix of thought by the non-obvious combination with another. Koestler also suggested that originality, emphasis and economy are universal features of creative thought, differentiating between domains (arts, business, sruvival, …)of creative application by its emotional context.
  • Csikszentmihalyi expands on Wallas/Helmholtz by presenting a five-step architecture in his 1996 book [7], where he divides the verification step into a two-folded deployment, (i) evaluation, introducing an aesthetic/semantic assessment measurement to the product of the internal creative process, and (ii) elaboration, where the process becomes explicitly deliberate and intentional with the clear aim to provide the environment with an artifact. At this point, rather than needing to acquire knowledge, the process must dispense it [8]. Furthermore, and possibly most important, Csikszentmihalyi stresses the importance to consider these steps (preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation and elaboration) as parts of a multiple-iteration, possibly recursive process in which the steps may be revisited multiple times, in varying order as necessary, which adds a considerable amount of freedom degrees to the paradigm.
  • Finally, Margaret Boden, who has published multiple work on the field of creativity and its possible modelling through computational toolsets [9] [10] [11], describes creativity as the ability to generate novel, and valuable ideas. This author defines valuable as being, at least, interesting, useful, beautiful, simple, and richly complex, attributes that land on the concept of “ideas”, meaning precisely: concepts, theories, interpretations, stories or artefacts that could range from graphical images, sculptures and houses to jet engines. As for novel, Boden tackles on the field-recurring notion of originality by discriminating between two types of outcome ideas:
Spiral drawn on a GO board. Taken from Darren Aronofsky’s movie Pi: Faith in chaos

II. The Creative Machine

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Art-based Researcher, Data-AI-SignalProcessing Engineer. I study ~rhythms through aesthetics.

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Will Barleycorn

Will Barleycorn

Art-based Researcher, Data-AI-SignalProcessing Engineer. I study ~rhythms through aesthetics.

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