Tell us about your creativity

On February 27th, 2024 The Augmented Society Network was invited by Dr Hannah R Marson to write a chapter for inclusion in an academic book that explores technology, health, and society. Our contribution chapter explores the role of creativity across these disciplines. 

Dr Hannah R. Marston is an interdisciplinary researcher, in the areas of digital health, age-friendly cities and communities, gerontology, digital ex/inclusion, health, and wellbeing. She is a research fellow in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, and has published widely for over ten years. 

The offer has come from Julie’s research work and the ‘Creativity Offers Us A New Formula for Life’ exhibition. 

On Saturday 16th March, 2024 we contacted all our contributors via email and asked the following questions. 

  1. Can you describe how you feel when in your creative flow?
    • What are you experiencing? Is there satisfaction, discontent, questioning, urgency, or quiet, etc.
  2. What is the opposite of creativity?
  3. Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life?
  4. How does technology impact your creative experience?
  5. Can creativity offer everyone a new formula for life?
** Contributor responses will be continually updated.

Ismael Kherroubi Garcia, FRSA (March 16, 2024 - 22:14 ) wrote

Can you describe how you feel when in your creative flow?
When in my creative flow, the external world becomes secondary to the task at hand. The tools I use and the work I do become one with my thoughts; time comes to a halt and all I can hear is a whirlwind of ideas crossing through my mind. I need to make sense of the chaos and feel at peace in a process I find challenging but rewarding. And once the task is done, the thoughts quiet down, I move away from what I was doing and notice two or three hours have passed. I feel productive and happy with what I have done because it was my humanity that made it possible. I know that no machine can do what I do when in creative flow. That is the opposite of creativity: soulless, mechanistic data processing.
Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life?
I believe so, insofar that I have taken significant risks throughout my life to make the most of the time I have. I have not followed any predetermined or straightforward path. I believe this is a form of creativity. 
How does technology impact your creative experience?
My work relates with technology, and I conduct my work creatively. The answers to the questions I work on — the ethics of artificial intelligence — often require new thinking, which calls for creative solutions that have not been tested before. Technology only serves as an enabler for my creative process. Whether it’s for bringing many people together online, or for organising my thoughts on an online whiteboard, technology has often replaced more traditional technologies in my process, such as classrooms, chalkboards, or paper.
Can creativity offer everyone a new formula for life?
When we reflect on our lives, we draw on creativity because none of the answers are readily available. We need to think creatively about what we want to make of ourselves and our communities. It is at a communitarian level that we can collaborate towards a shared formula for life. By experimenting with new tools and processes, we can collectively instantiate a new formula for life. Creativity will be crucial in this process. 

Eva Pascoe, FRSA (March 16, 2024 - 22:52) wrote 

Can you describe how you feel when in your creative flow?
My creative flow when I am writing a story or designing a new piece of pottery are quite similar. I tend to research a lot, dive deep into each aspect of what I am trying to create, reflect, consider all angles, then once I feel the flow, I can hyper-concentrate and step into this immersive world, then write a story quite quickly. Time is a big thing for me as I am conscious that my flow can stop if a bell rings or if grocery is being delivered. To avoid that stop, I try to finish my stories at least in draft in one go. There is a sense of urgency to 'get it out' on paper, to capture that moment of inspiration in my head when things come together and when I feel I can express the essence of the story in fluent shape. I love seeing the story materialising in front of my eyes, taking shape, with words capturing the sense I had internally, revealing on paper what was shaping up in my head. Writing a new story is an exhilarating experience, serene but also with relentless commitment to get it out on paper. I feel that the second phase, the edit of the story to make it tight, is the more anxious part, when I need to question a lot of the structure and what seemed fluent and certain, sometimes fells into disjointed and uncertain. 

Discontent is there if it does not flow well enough, but that motivates me even more.
Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life?
Stagnation and possibly inertia, when energy is flat and inspiration seems elusive. Those are times when I feel self-critical, unable to step into the original, but harking after what I know worked for others. This temporary lack of courage, belief in my own path can be very anxious experience. 

What is the opposite of creativity?
There are also times when life gets hectic with family or other business and I lose the space in my head that allows me to create, to inject that unique piece of me into a new story. Those periods are frustrating, anxious, upsetting. I dont suffer from creative blocks, it is more that my inspiration thrives in a routine environment, when I can find a regular time to think. If I have to travel or focus on other areas, my energy for writing stagnates, feels flat.

How does technology impact your creative experience?
I need an element of routine to 'ground' myself, but beyond that structure I tend to be fairly explorative in my creative interests. My last two contributions to published anthology were as wide apart as a story about children born out of synthetic womb, and a story about future of collaborative finance. If I get intrigued by a topic, and feel I have lived-in experience or work experience that I can build on, then I am not frightened to dive head first and see what I can produce.
Can creativity offer everyone a new formula for life?
Creativity is the driving force in my life, getting deep into my inner thoughts, mining my personal experiences and sharing those with others in a form of a story, is deeply motivational. Creativity opens us up a new lens, helps to approach problems from a different angle, helps to embrace diverse, alternative view of old problems. I believe strongly that creativity enables empathy, and enhances social cohesion. It also allows us to re-think seemingly unsolvable problems, as creativity encourages perseverance, sustained effort to produce a new solution, a new outcome. It allows us to thrive as problem solvers in arts but also engineering, technology and many other areas. As a young child, I used to visit puppet theatre in my hometown, performances full of magic, wonders and plays that were able to take us to another world with a minimum of props. Child imagination is open for entering new worlds, experiencing new scenarios and interacting with new creatures. I believe we need creativity to develop our understanding of other species, re-create our existence in a more balanced way with other actors in our world, including animals and plants. This re-balancing is necessary to re-frame our existence of humans as partners in looking after our planet Earth. With creativity, we can explore this path over time, different than the trajectory we were on till climate change realisation, but necessary for our survival.

Anne Waldon FRSA (March 17, 2024 - 10:58) wrote 

We don't pay much attention to some of the strangest aspects of our lives. One of these is the constant coming-into and going-out-of existence of everything. The Tao Te Ching says: 
The Tao is like a well: 
used but never used up. 
It is like the eternal void: 
filled with infinite possibilities. 
(Stephen Mitchell translation) 

The Ancient Chinese were vividly aware of this. They recognised that the "source" of this ceaseless coming in and going out is literally beyond our possibility of understanding - the part cannot encompass the whole - and they named it Tao, mother of the Ten Thousand Things. 

Which is to say, all around us, and in us, and through us, things are coming into existence and going out of existence, us included. Without us needing to do anything about it. (It's not easy to talk about these things. Words run out of meaning. But we can point.) We can try another way of saying it, and say that creativity is the primary behaviour of the universe. Everything is part of it. Everything is part of that creativity. So for us humans, the only necessary condition for creativity is allowing the firehose of possibility that runs through everything to be expressed through us.

Dr. Rachida Marbouh FRSA (March 17, 2024 - 1:05) wrote

Can you describe how you feel when in your creative flow?
When I am in my creative flow I look a lot to the unseen, I search for the unknowns to find my other normal. Actually, for each step in my creative experience in “rethinking design in couture,” I tried to define creative concepts that are historically and anthropologically based, concepts that are drawn from social and cultural influences and put them to a more defined and easily described mindset. I was experiencing continuity and mystery, in each step: defining my work helped me to acquire the experience that is needed to achieve mastery and knowledge. 

2. Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life?
The opposite of creativity is logical work, when prior knowledge and good preparation are sufficient to achieve the task we seek. 

Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life?
Creativity might be a talent as it might be an influence of the environment that surrounds us. I think that creativity comes from personality and takes courage to be shown in our social fabric. Because we live in a rapidly- ever-changing world, creativity is needed but it comes from different sources, creativity is nowadays common to our activities and is defying the old configuration of the world. 

How does technology impact your creative experience?
Technology can be described as the veil that separates us from our desired way of living, technology helps us to live and connect differently, using avatars and fictive names, we can show different learning styles where connecting is easy and where fiction is the new world. Using different communication styles and new representation forms helps me a lot to reimagine my experiences and to unfold the creative spirit I have. 

Can creativity offer everyone a new formula for life?
Creativity certainly can offer a new formula for life to people, but it needs to be learned and to be acquired as a talent and as a knowledge.

Sawyer Rose FRSA (March 18, 2024 - 17:23) wrote

Can you describe how you feel when in your creative flow?
Learning to tolerate the ups and downs of an effective creative process has been as much of a challenge for me as the making of the artworks themselves. Now, accepting (and even embracing) the failures and dead-ends along the path from concept to object is an expected part of my flow. The flow state can be peaceful, for sure, which is lovely, but these days if my brain gets too quiet while I'm in the studio, I'll intentionally insert "what if" or "could I take this further" to shake things up a bit. Now that I'm no longer afraid of stumbling in my process, I set up little mental obstacles just to see where I'll fall - and my artwork is much better for it.

Are you generally creative in the way you lead your life? 
Yes, in a number of senses. Certainly, in terms of work, all my jobs and projects are artistic or arts-related. But to lead my life creatively in a larger sense means, to me, applying the same principles of testing and failing and adding spontaneity and embracing the "happy accident" as I would in my studio. Combining these goals with a reasonable amount of routine and rest keeps my life spicy enough to rarely get boring. 

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