r _Web.log

tag: creativity

The Extended Composer

I have recently contributed a chapter to a Springer textbook on Computers and Creativity. Edited by Jon McCormack and Mark d'Inverno, it's a great collection of essays which emerged from a Dagstuhl seminar on computational creativity and the surrounding issues: can algorithmic systems be said to be creative? What systems can we use to evaluate creative practice - or is a "fitness function" even possible for aesthetic values? How are computing and simulation altering our philosophies of creativity?

My contribution, co-authored with Mark d'Inverno and Andrew R. Brown, sidesteps ideas of autonomous creative systems to instead focus on how we can extend our own innate creative practice using generative algorithms, particularly in the domain of music making. It attempts to delineate several ways in which we can use algorithmic tools to alter or reroute innate creativity - by suggesting new routes, enforcing constraints, or imposing new aesthetic directions.

The chapter builds extensively on Clark and Chalmers' concept of the Extended Mind, which proposes that cognitive processes can take place outside of our physical brains; for example, when we are writing notes to remember later, or shuffling tiles on a Scrabble board to jog ideas of words to play.

In homage to Clark and Chalmers, it is titled The Extended Composer.

This chapter focuses on interactive tools for musical composition which, through computational means, have some degree of autonomy in the creative process. This can engender two distinct benefits: extending our practice through new capabilities or trajectories, and reflecting our existing behaviour, thereby disrupting habits or tropes that are acquired over time. We examine these human-computer partnerships from a number of perspectives, providing a series of taxonomies based on a systems behavioural properties, and discuss the benefits and risks that such creative interactions can provoke.

It's sadly an expensive publication and only viable to most through a University library subscription.

For general readers, available here is a pre-print PDF of the The Extended Composer. Please note that this document is intended for research purposes only.

Hackpact 2009/09/#25: Dagstuhl creativity writeup


Final push on getting together this belated report on the Dagstuhl seminar Computational Creativity: An Interdisciplinary Approach I attended a couple of months ago. Features such diagrammatic gems as the attached, depicting ongoing interactions in group improvisation.

Lovelace on creativity: An addendum

Just been reading through parts of the PhD thesis of Rob Saunders, one of the previous members of the stem cell modelling research group, on "Curious Design Agents and Artificial Creativity". Lots of interesting ideas, which follow on nicely from a talk I recently saw by Alex McLean on mapping creative exploration to geometric spaces (cf Peter Gärdenfors).

The introduction aptly reins back something that I overstated in my recent piece on Jane Prophet: Ada Lovelace's views on computational creativity. She in fact stated that:

“The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do [only] whatever we know how to order it to perform” (emphasis added by Boden, 1990)

As Rob comments, therefore, the credit for the creative products of the machine should remain with its engineer, rather than construing the machine itself as having creativity. His paper goes on to investigate such notions of synthetic creativity. It also brings to the fore Turing's ideas about machines exhibiting "surprising" behaviour courtesy, in the paper that introduces the Turing test, anticipating Cariani's emergence-relative-to-a-model.

Interesting, and relevant after a morning spent encountering some highly surprising behaviour from some swarms driven by Perlin noise (below).

Incidentally, Leafcutter John -- who we are off to see play tonight as part of Polar Bear -- has also been doing some brilliant things with Processing and particle systems. On the "unexpected" tip, check out his awesome moth wings...