topical media & game development

talk show tell print

research directions -- on creativity

One of the assignments in the visual design course is an essay. As one of the recommended topics we have a reflection on theories of creativity. As such it is not a training in creativity. This section contains some random thoughts on the processes and products of design, and ends with the provoking statement there is no theory of creativity. You may, however, try to find some counter-arguments, for example in the line of  [Similarity].


Multimedia is a promising technology, and (nowadays) affordable. So we see that multimedia (which includes 3D-graphics, video and sound) is increasingly being used, also in information visualisation. But what is it good for? To quote  [Magic]:

multimedia's promise is terribly generalized,

it simply lets you do anything.

As with any new technology, the early multimedia productions (in particular CDROM and CD-I) were not optimal with respect to (aesthetic) quality. To quote  [Magic], again:

shovelware -- multimediocrity

... far from making a killing, it looked as if the big boys ... had killed the industry by glutting the market with inferior products.

Perhaps the industry in the late eighties did not have the right business model. But, then again, what are the chances of multimedia in our time. One more quote from  [Magic]:

if multimedia is comparable to print then yes, we'd be crazy to expect it to mature in a mere ten years.

eliminating complexity

So now, in the new millenium, we are (sadder and wiser) in a position to approach the effective deployment of multimedia afresh. What we look for is aesthetic quality. How do we find it? Easy enough, just be authentic.

"Learning how to not fool ourselves is, I'm sorry to say, something that we haven't specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you've caught it by osmosis."

Richard Feynman

Authentic in creating multimedia means, apart from not fooling yourselves, that you must become aware of the message orinformation you want to convey and learn to master the technology to a sufficient degree. But beware, an effective multimedia presentation is not the same as scientific argumentation:

the media equation

We regularly exploit the media equation for enjoyment by the willing suspension of our critical faculties. Theatre is the projection of a story through the window of a stage, and typically the audience gets immersed in the story as if it was real.

These quotes, as well as the following one have been taken from an online essay on eliminating complexity which provides an argument against inessential gadgets and spurious complexity and bells and whistles in whatever you can think of, including user interfaces and scientific theories. Back to the subject, what does master the technology to a sufficient degree mean? Just remember that what you do is a form of engineering.


"engineering is the art of moulding materials we do not wholly understand ... in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance."

A. R. Dykes.

In other words, learn the tool(s) that you are using to a degree that you master the basics and easily cut through its apparent magic.

theories of creativity

Producing multimedia, in whatever form, has an element of craftsmanship. But, given the need for aesthetic quality, whatever way you approach it, there is an element of creativity. That means, you're in for a challenge. And, to quote  [Magic],

The best thing is to empower yourself. But before you can do that, you need to understand what you are doing -- which is a surprisingly novel thing to do.

Now it is tempting to look for a set of guidelines and rules that give you a key to creativity. So let me be straight with you:

there is no theory of creativity

On the other hand, there are techniques for producing ideas. And some recommend a sequence of steps, such as:


browse, explore; chew it over; incubation, let it rest; illumination (YES); verification,does it work?

And in addition, still following  [Magic], there are some general rules:

general rules

Now, if you'd ask me, I would say, just

make your virtual hands dirty.

(C) Æliens 04/09/2009

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