The Rotten Lemon of Enlightenment


Creativity in my workplace

As much as I would love to study full-time the realities of life make this impossible. So when I’m not at university chasing my dream to be a visual artist I’m in an office processing masses of data and making maps for the oil industry. Which brings me to this awesome software we have helped test and develop for its creator (Dirstein and Fallon, 2011). I think it makes for a great case study for bringing in elements from different disciplines and industries to really revolutionise the way this industry looks and processes its data. It also makes for a great insight into coming up with amazingly creative ideas from existing technologies.

In the oil industry seismic data is collected and often displayed in 3D for the evaluation of coal and hydrocarbon exploration. To do this a geophysicist has to pick individual horizons which more often than not takes months to complete and only covers the zone of interest. This is where this software is great it enables the automated picking of all horizons in the dataset in hours or days at most. What is truly amazing and creative is how this software does this. It’s based on the Human Genome Project.

So what goes the Human Genome Project have to do with finding oil?

This is the really creative part. The developer saw that the waveforms from seismic data weren’t all that different from the human Chromosomes. Or at least they could be analysed as data in a very similar way. By matching similar waveforms the software is able to create horizons from the data. So without getting bogged down in the technique aspects I’ll leave it there, however I’ll attach a link to a .pdf file of a recent magazine article on the software and the extra work we do with it for those interested.

This illustrates a lot of the topics and ideas addressed so far in this unit.

  • To be always aware and have a genuine thirst for knowledge.
  • To look outside your field or profession for inspiration.
  • To entertain all ideas.
  • To take a risk or leap of faith and chase those ideas.
  • To surround yourself with people who stimulate you and your ideas.
  • To make it your passion.

It is really inspiring to be involved with these sorts of projects as they are dynamic and ever-changing. It’s like being invited on a journey of discovery. It’s also unhindered by established dogma and rules because whats around the corner is unknown. I find it all very exciting for it’s as much about the journey as the destination. It is for this reason I consider myself creative.

References

Dirstein, J.K. and Fallon, G.N. (2011, April). Automated interpretation of 3D seismic. Preview, issue 151, p30-37. Link to .pdf

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Creating a creative atmosphere

In week six for our tutorial on creative environments, there was a particular activity that caught my eye on the handout (Tutorial Activites, 2010).

Begin to consider the ways in which you might create an “atmosphere” of creativity (for example, using lighting and images, or activities such as chanting, arranging objects, improvising lyrics to bongo rhythms – whatever you can think of).

In your own time, try to create an “atmosphere” of creativity using some of the techniques discussed, and report on the relationship between the altered environment, your altered mental state, and your subsequent thought processes and creative activity.

Now that I have had some time to think about and experiment with this I have come to some conclusions. The most important being that your creative atmosphere should reflect who you are. Personally I thrive on organised chaos and only rein it in when it starts to unravel. My filing system is the floor, I forgot what my desk looked like a long time ago and I make my bed once a week when I change the sheets. Sure most people see this as dirty but it’s really just messy. There is a difference…right?

So what does this have to do with my creative atmosphere?

After considering for some time as to why I am by nature a messy person I began to realise that it was exactly how I think. I file things on the floor so they are easy to access. When I put them away and out of sight I feel they become forgotten. Just as when I have an idea or see something interesting I make a mental note and keep it at the forefront of my mind. I need to keep things I consider important within reach. So in regards to my creative atmosphere as a physical space or studio I need to be able to see all the items, tools, materials, books and information for the particular project I am working on. One of the reasons I don’t make my bed everyday is because by leaving it unmade it feels as if I had never left. I don’t have to toss and turn to get comfortable because it feels familiar. It allows me to just focus on going to sleep. Which is the exact same atmosphere I tried to recreate. One that syncs perfectly with my though process so I can focus on creating and not trying to force it.

I also have strong internal dialogue that clashes with any external dialogue. So if  there is music it cannot have lyrics. I tend to listen to ambient music with brain waves played through the speakers if I choose to listen to anything at all. Complete silence is preferred as distraction is often met with frustration. It’s not until the tasks become less mentally challenging that music and conversation with others creep back in.

When I create I generally like to be alone. It enables me to be myself and removes any sense of self-consciousness and doubt. Many of the stages of the creative process I find to be intensely personal or extremely social. The social and interactive part coming during the formation of ideas and criticism of work when requested.

Finally the exclusion of clocks within eyesight. By excluding time from the process, that connection to reality is severed and I can completely immerse myself in my work.

By creating an environment that reflects my personality I was able to enhance my creative process. In a comfortable and familiar atmosphere it was easier to slip into a creative flow and maintain it. Much like returning to an unmade bed and feeling like you never left.

References

Tutorial Activites. (2010). sccaOnline | CCA1103. Retrieved from https://lms.sca.ecu.edu.au/units/CCA1103/workshops/cca1103_activities_2010_2_w6.pdf 
Download .pdf



The six thinking hats
May 14, 2011, 9:31 pm
Filed under: CCA1103, The six posts for Mark, Tutorial | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The six thinking hats (De Bono,1992) is a technique that has seen considerable popularity in the business world as a way to separate ego from performance. Thinking by nature is a deeply personal and subjective process so it’s not surprising that we become quite attached to our ideas. With this technique teams are able to address problems, ideas, etc in a objective manner. They are able to see the topic from different angles. As the group moves through the various hats the conversation is allowed to run it’s course without resistance or descending into the the inevitable argument.

The six hats are as follows;

The white hat is all about research. It’s the collecting of all relevant information.

The red hat is emotion. Your gut feeling. Your intuitions.

The black hat is reality and caution. Risk management.

The yellow hat tries to address the issues brought up by the black hat. It’s the optimistic look at all the possible benefits.

The green hat is the creative hat. Dedicated time put aside to be creative. Allowing time for creativity is not a natural thing. Just as positive thinking towards an idea we do not like is not natural.

The blue hat is about the big picture. After going through all the hats is it still viable. What is the verdict.

So this is all well and good in the boardroom but how about the individual? These hats represent behaviors that are in all of us. However, some hats are more dominant than others depending on the individual. With this technique you are able to take a more even and systematic approach to your thinking process. Enabling a more balanced approach to your creative process.

References

De Bono, E. (1992). Six thinking hats. Serious Creativity (pp. 77-85). New York: HarperBusiness.
Download .pdf



Theories of Creativity

In preparation for my creative project and with the intention to make strong ties back to the unit I’ll be revising the readings and tutorial activities. I’ll be doing this with particular interest to how I can relate it back to my creative project. First up will be the Theories of Creativity (Davis, 2004).

Creativity is a hard thing to define as I believe it is a very personal experience that can be strongly influenced by the environment the individual finds themselves in. I think this is reinforced by the various theories in regards to creativity itself. All have a little truth to them for the masses but are likely true to the individual. What fits for them doesn’t always fit for others and just as what fits others doesn’t always fit them. For me it’s more about the bigger picture and picking what best suits you and your creativity. A good friend of mine didn’t want to share her ideas for a project in another unit which I found a little difficult to understand at first. Personally I like to share ideas freely and build on the ideas created by the ‘flow’ of the group. These new ideas excite me and push me to further build upon them privately. For reasons unknown to me this very thing I find helpful to my process could stifle hers. She could see it as a dilution of her ideas. However I digress, my point being that while these theories might not fit you perfectly they’ll help you understand your creativity and what works for you.

Sigmund Freud

First up is probably the most famous and controversial, Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalytic account. Putting aside Freud’s obsession with sex he did have an interesting point about the primary and secondary processes. One that I could possibly relate back to my creative project. According to Freud our thinking process could be broken into two different categories; the primary and secondary processes. The primary being a childlike regression where the mind is free, relaxed and able to fantasize without restriction – an ideal environment to be creative. While the secondary is the adultlike way of thinking where reality and logic restrict our thinking. So I could in corporate a childlike element into my portrait for the right side. Maybe even dig up a childhood portrait of myself. I could also use crayons as the medium.

Ernst Kris

Ernst Kris worked closely with Freud before coming up with his own slightly modified version. Like Freud he was also focused on sex but felt aggression was an important factor too. What an interesting pair these two would have made! Kris believe creativity was a preconscious activity and therefore ideas just happen as an “Eureka” moment and had very little to do with conscious thought. I couldn’t disagree more so on to the next!

Lawrence Kubie

Lawrence Kubie breaks down creativity into three states; the conscious, preconscious and unconscious. He claims the conscious and unconscious are rigid and uncreative. The conscious anchored in reality while the unconscious is vague and meanings hidden or repressed. However through various techniques you can reach the threshold between the two and understand the unconscious while remaining in a conscious state. It is the ability of the individual to access this state (preconscious) that determines their creativity. Another theory I don’t agree with personally. I believe we have a more active role in our ability to create than Kubie gives us credit for.

Harold Rugg

Harold Rugg ‘s theory although basically the same as Kubie’s does have one important difference that make’s it more feasible in my opinion. That the preconscious is a more easily attainable state than what Kubie would have us believe. Much like Freud and his theories on primary and secondary thinking the preconscious is the childlike state and the conscious is the adultlike state. The preconscious state brings the ideas to life while the conscious state brings them to reality.

To be continued…

References

Davis, G. A. (2004). Definitions and Theories. Creativity is forever (pp. 58-73). (5th Ed.). USA: Kendell/Hunt. Download .pdf handout

Ernst%20Kris (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from; http://www.apsa.org/centennialstatic/Notable%20Psychoanalysts/Ernst%20Kris.jpg

HaroldRugg (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from; http://www.sandiegoyesterday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/HaroldRugg.jpg

Lawrence%20Kubie (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from; http://www.apsa.org/centennialstatic/Notable%20Psychoanalysts/Lawrence%20Kubie.jpg

sigmund-freud-med (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from; http://www.nndb.com/people/736/000029649/sigmund-freud-med.jpg



Presentations = way too much stress :S

What a crazy day its been today!

For the first time in a month I arrived early to a lecture with time to spare. Even arriving before my good friend Franco, though I am not sure if he was genuinely surprised or resented me for making him look late. Then again it could have had something to do with my continuous gloating and declaration that he shouldn’t have even bothered to come in this morning. After about ten minutes of relentless badgering Franco was rescued as Erin Coates began her lecture.

I had been looking forward to this lecture since seeing the unit schedule for the first time. Mostly because it was specific to my area of expertise; the Visual Arts. Erin Coates’s lecture Visual Arts and Creativity was a great insight into her work but more importantly her creative process. I’ll also point out that I really liked her art and will be heading down to the Fremantle Arts Centre to check out the Chinese Video Art exhibition she is involved in.

As the theories and ideas of the creative process start to sink in it was great to be able to not only see them in Erin’s practice but to start to understand why they work. My notes during the lecture started to shift from documenting the presentation itself to focus on the elements she draws upon from the theories we have been learning. Here are some of the examples Coates, E (2011) gave;

  • …every experience shapes you…
  • …be resourceful…
  • …try something new. try new mediums…
  • …draw all the time…
  • …record what you are thinking…
  • …be a collector of information…
  • …avid researcher…
  • …passionate, rigorous…

I felt these statements really fit in strongly with the idea that the creative mind is always collecting and cataloging information for later reference. For me this cuts to the very core of creativity and something that should be nurtured. This revelation just isn’t specific to this lecture but more the cumulation of the last three.

With the lecture over I would generally continue bugging Franco but today was different…we had our presentation!

Formal presentations have always terrified me. I can get up and talk about my artwork or man a booth at an oil conference no worries but the moment it becomes a structured, formal presentation the wheels fall off. Following those set points one after the other doesn’t feel natural, especially when thinking about the next point. It always messes up your train of though as you try in vain to get the current point across. I really struggle if I have to keep it linear. Maybe my understanding that a formal presentation has to be smooth and linear is unrealistic. Or I worry about the overall message of the presentation and not let the points do the talking. The fear that it won’t run smoothly or the pressure not to let your group members down. What I do know is when I sat down again it was like walking out of my last TEE exam. The relief was so great I have been in the best mood all night. Which is crazy considering I have been stressed all week over reading three pages in front of sixteen people for about five minutes. The worst part being I would have probably done a runner if I wasn’t in a group! The mind is an amazing thing!

Thank god it’s friday and I won’t be doing that again for a very long time…I hope!

References

Coates, E. (2011). Visual Arts and Creativity
Download .pdf

haunted-house. (n.d) In Google Images [Digital image]. Retrieved April 8, 2011, from; http://segmentnext.com/wp-content/uploads/haunted-house.jpg



Creative Process Illustrated

Found some great videos on youtube about how people in the creative industries come up with their ideas. They were very insightful, reinforcing the importance of understanding the creative process and how best to encourage it.


It’s always interesting to learn the source of any idea, concept or product. Nothing is ever created from a vacuum void of information. Some of the coolest ideas come from just putting A and B together or even P and Y.


Found it interesting how they re-worked the brief inhouse to get the most out of it. The constant circulation of ideas through the creative team is also worth mentioning. It’s not always the quality of the idea that’s important but where it might lead.


Really liked the point they made about being in the zone and working around it for maximum effect.

References

YTShowandTell. (2010). Creative Process Illustrated: Benjamin Palmer . Retrieved Mar 30, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD457Dr1jx0

YTShowandTell. (2010). Creative Process Illustrated: Eric Kallman and Craig Allen of W+K . Retrieved Mar 30, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD457Dr1jx0  

YTShowandTell. (2010). Creative Process Illustrated: Terrence Kelleman . Retrieved Mar 30, 2011 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD457Dr1jx0



Understanding your creativity: Preparation

It’s important for anyone in the Creative Industries to understand their own creative process. I’ve already talked in previous posts about the Five Rules of Creativity and how closely they match my process.

Here are Harman, J. (2011)’s rules again as a reminder.

  1. Preparation
  2. Concentration
  3. Incubation
  4. Illumination
  5. Verification

By understanding your own process you are able to map out what limits and what encourages your creativity. In this post I have mapped out the Preparation stage in the diagram below. I call it “Birth of an Idea”. 

How ideas are made

What this diagram does is draw focus on important elements within the process itself. For me the key is how the mind processes and categorizes external information. For me it seems perception plays a pivotal role in the early stages of my creative process. Anything that alters or influences this will have a significant impact of the quantity and quality of my ideas before they have even been formed.

I personally have experimented with drugs (shocking I know) and have taken various medications. All of which have altered my ability to perceive in some way or another. I found with party drugs my perception would often focus on the obscure and irrelevant. More importantly however I noticed that very little of the information was ever processed and categorized. On the flip side I found medications killed my curiosity and therefore the amount of information I processed was also greatly reduced.

I’m not saying all my ideas dried up or were bad because I still was able to create some amazing work. I do however believe it was very restrictive and had an overall negative effect. I was basically handicapping my creativity at the earliest stages. A balance is key and with a clear perception you are really giving yourself the best possible chance to create and do your best work!

References

Harman, J. (2011) Personal Creative Process: John Harman. http://sandbox.ea.ecu.edu.au/staffuse/mtmcmaho/CCA1103/CCA1103L3