Creativity and its Expression

Painting 1I am focused on creativity and expression and how we tap into a source of inspiration and are driven to express it.

You don’t write papers with titles like Letting Loose the LightThe Next Knowledge Medium, or Toward Portable Ideas if something like this isn’t on your mind.

Or a book titled Breakthrough for that matter.


This painting by Emily Davis Adams is one of a series of her paintings of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Each painting captures an instant, a still frame, from a video of Lieberson singing.

As Emily said in in a note to my wife,

“… her music (voice) has been a great inspiration to me. When she sang this Aria, I felt she was really touching the great unknown, as it were.”

Sketch 1By their nature paintings are visual but silent.

Why do we feel Lieberson’s voice so keenly when we gaze on the painting?

Does it touch a powerful resonance in us of her creativity and expression?

Paradoxically, as you look quietly at  the painting, you can experience the passion of her singing.

What did Adams feel as she saw Lieberson and created this?

Adams’ sense of touching the great unknown is sustained, evident not only in the painting, but also in the small water colors (left) that she did as studies for the series.

Creative Teams

My encounters with creativity have brought me in touch not only with “aha” moments of invention when a big idea comes forth, but also with intense moments in collaborative settings when a team working together creates something that none of them could have done on their own.

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir (above) conveys some of the wonder you can feel when many voices come together in a choir, whether in a real hall or a virtual one with computers intermediating the contributions of the singers.

Opportunities and Questions

Main portable ideasWhat technologies can foster the creation of ideas by teams?

What technologies can foster the movement of ideas so they can be shared?
Example Past Project (Colab)

What areas are ripe now for technology in exploring high performance creativity by teams?

design-labI have been interested in the creativity and groups for many years. The three pictures snapshot creativity spaces for my groups at PARC. The top sketch on the left was a visualization for a paper with John Seely Brown on group brainstorming processes and “portable ideas.” The paper was inspired by the Colab project. The Colab from the late 1980’s is shown in the middle picture.

The bottom photograph is our Design Lab, which my group uses for system and user-interface design, team programming, and other creative meetings. Any one can send their computer screen to one of the three LDC displays on the wall for sharing or use the whiteboards or core boards and sticky notes for various discussions.

In our research, we are now thinking now about teams that include both humans and computer partners, as inspired by the CitySight project. These threads of creativity and collaboration come together now in nascent projects of augmented team intelligence.



This entry was posted in Creativity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.