When we let our minds wander, sleeping or waking, they begin mixing and remixing our experiences to create weird images, hallucinations, even epiphanies.
These might be the result of idle daydreaming on the side of a hill, when we see a whale in the clouds. Or they might be more significant, like the famous tale that the chemist Friedrich Kekulé discovered the circular shape of benzene after daydreaming about a snake eating its own tail.
There is little doubt we are a species consumed by our dreams—that our ability to find unexpected new patterns in the noise is what makes us human and what makes us creative.
Maybe that’s why a set of incredibly dream-like images recently released by Google are causing such a stir. These particular images were dreamed up by computers.
Google calls the process by which the images were created inceptionism, recalling the movie, and likewise, the images themselves range from beautiful to bizarre.
So, what exactly is going on here? We recently wrote about the torrid advances in image recognition using deep learning algorithms. By feeding these algorithms millions of labeled images ("cat", "cow," "chair," etc.), they learn to recognize and identify objects in unlabeled images. Earlier this year, machines at Google, Microsoft, and Baidu beat a human benchmark at image recognition.
In the early morning hours of June 15, a huge white balloon filled with 6,200 cubic meters of helium slowly ascended into the sky above Huiyu Island Harbour, Quanzhou, China. Attached to it was a 500-meter long ladder coated completely with quick burning fuses and gold fireworks that was the
Artists and scientists throughout history have remarked on the bliss that accompanies a sudden creative insight. Einstein described his realization of the general theory of relativity as the happiest moment of his life. More poetically, Virginia Woolf once observed, “Odd how the creative power brings the whole universe at once to order.”
But what about before such moments of creative insight? What emotions actually fuel creativity?
The long-standing view in psychology is that positive emotions are conducive to creativity because they broaden the mind, whereas negative emotions are detrimental to creativity because they narrow one’s focus. But this view is too simplistic for a number of reasons.
It’s true that attentional focus does have important effects on creative thinking: a broad scope of attention is associated with the free-floating colliding of ideas, and a narrow scope of attention is more conducive to linear, step-by-step goal attainment. However, emerging research suggests that the positive vs. negative emotions distinction may not be the most important contrast for understanding attentional focus. Over the past seven years, research conducted by psychologist Eddie Harmon-Jones and his colleagues suggests that the critical variable influencing one’s scope of attention is not emotional valence (positive vs. negative emotions) but motivational intensity, or how strongly you feel compelled to either approach or avoid something. For example, pleasant is a positive emotion, but it has low motivational intensity. In contrast, desire is a positive emotion with high motivational intensity.
Artists and scientists alike strive "to figure out the deep truths of reality," explains physicist Brian Greene. The ways they pursue that goal are different, but there's no reason why two segments of society seeking answers can't work together.
Artists are beginning to think like scientists and scientists like artists as aesthetics is being redefined, Professor Arthur I. Miller argued at an event on “Physics in Public Spaces” held at the IOP’s London centre on 23 June
Once upon a time, a handsome man was trapped in a tower overlooking the sea. To amuse himself, he built a magical instrument. It was constructed of wood and metal, but sounded like something one might hear over loudspeakers at the Tate, or perhaps an avant-garde sound installation in Bushwick.
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