The 5th Creativity & Cognition Conference :: Kellyann Geurts

11-15 April 2005, Goldsmiths College, London University, London UK

The main theme of the conference was the creative process and the creation of artifacts: understanding creative practice, art works employing digital media and creativity support tools.

Thanks to ANAT and RMIT University, the opportunity to attend the conference and exhibit my art work/research to international audience has been an extremely valuable experience. Mostly in terms of exposure to contemporary interdisciplinary thought in the pursuit of understanding the creative process.

Abstract from my paper… A Theory of Error explores notions of art and corporeality, and in particular art representing the brain and mechanisms of thought, reflections about exploring the creative process and considering thought when the brain is simulated through digital imaging. Forming a theoretical background to the project are various interwoven theories from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, art and technology that examine the mechanisms of creativity in relation to mutation and disorder, chaos and abstraction.

The papers of the conference appear at:

The program of the conference was separated into 3 streams: Central, scientific and technology orientated work on creativity; An expanded coverage of creative art practice and, historical development in this area.

The art component
The reflective practice and practice based research chaired by Janis Jefferies (Dept of Art, Goldsmiths College). The aim: To provide a platform for a new type of a multi-disciplinary worker: the artist as researcher, participating in trans-disciplinary practices and pioneering research in the development of technologies at the cusp of creativity and cognition. To further develop my research and to establish appropriate relations, this is exactly where I need to be.

The exhibition represented collaborative art projects from performance art, sound art, visual arts, musicians, technologists and scientists… presenting new models for engaging in and exploring the nature creativity. Interactive art & collaborative projects placed emphasis on the artist as “a node in the network of creativity” and the combination of thought matrices to develop a project was the strength in artistic practice and the creative process, whatever the discipline.

I was especially engaged in the art demonstration titled: Tech-tiles (Tim Blackwell & Janis Jefferies). The tech-tiles, visually, are rectangular portions of an image, and aurally, portions of a sonic event or stream. The whimsical sounds reacted to the density of textured image and various textural forms were created from spontaneous sounds mapping of textile images into sound. The association and correlations became both harmonic and disturbing sonic improvisation.

Society of Neurons: An Arts/Science Project (Warren Neidich, Robert Zimmer & Thibaud de Souza) was an interactive & interdisciplinary project and one of the most inspiring. Using current theoretical frameworks emerging out of neuro-scientific inquiry, a very lively web-based mutating computational network or a “webbrain” has been created. The frameworks were discussed further in a conference in May 05 titled: “Neuroaesthetics” chaired by Warren Neidich. And if you missed that one, you can find out more about his work at (including links to his new Journal of Neuro-aesthetic Theory) or his book: BLOW-UP: Photography, Cinema and the Brain (2003).

Workshop – Freedom & Constraint in the Creative Process in Digital Fine Art: an AHRB Invited workshop. Chaired by John Hayworth. Although I wasn’t officially on the list of attendees, John accepted me as a late participant due to the appropriateness of my work. The workshop shed light on the freedom and constraints in creative process focusing on thought, technique and materials. Key points:

  • The digital greatly influences our perceptions and approaches to creativity computer aided art manifests a diversity of practices in which the fusion of thought and action is critical to the creative process
  • The computer extends creative ability to express interactive techniques and enables the viewer to have an active role and an immediate relationship with image making.
  • The digital provides fluidity in image construction.
  • Digital changes the way we are creative – enhancing the process and influencing the way we view the world. Technology influences perception and thinking; while at the same time concepts, ideas and feelings influence the use of technology.
  • Rather than being called a “digital artist” we can say we are “informed by the digital”

The themes are fully explored at

Other highlights
Another notable address was that of Keynote Speaker Margaret Boden (Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex). I had referenced Margaret throughout my Masters research and was delighted to hear her speak and to visit the new Dana Centre at the Science Museum. She spoke about new technologies, new aesthetics and new principles of aesthetics to evaluate interactive art and also presented several different ways of generating creative ideas – based on the following:

  • Arranging existing ideas in new combination’s
  • Taking accepted cultured styles and explore potential, extend limits tweak styles or utilize new tools
  • Defining creativity as a transformative process, where the fundamental rules are altered… new structures (by mutations or otherwise). Examples were in major art movements or individuals and individuals who led them.

More tangible, technical measurable processes, where explored in many of the papers presented. Creativity was discussed in terms of computer functioning, computer programming and design. “Understanding Design as a Social Creative Process” (Andy Warr & Eamonn O’Neil) discussed creativity in respect to design and the emphasis being that social creativity is more productive than individual creativity. The landmark event of the “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering” 1966, was used as a source of historical reference into the nature of interaction and collaboration, creative dialogue and collective wisdom.

Socializing with the conference delegates at a dinner on the 4th floor of TATE Modern was definitely one of the highlights. As were the London galleries, as was going to the Old Vic Theatre to see Kevin Spacey in the National Anthem.

The only reason I was pleased to take my seat on the plane was that I had left no time at all for the “Heathrow hike”… The flight home, with all of 60 passengers, allowed me to take centre aisle, arm rests up and lay back to watch Gone with the Wind. Perfect.

As warm welcome and within a week of my arrival in Melbourne was the first of the Alfred Deakin Lectures: Flights of Fantasy: an illustrated lecture/demonstration of the neurological dimensions of spontaneous creativity. And it was refreshingly spontaneous… Composer & jazz pianist, Paul Grabowsky, improvises and whilst performing his impulses and brainwaves were analysed and interpreted by modern neuroscience by Prof VS Ramachandran (Neuroscientist and Director, Centre for the Brain & Cognition, University of California). Modern theories in neuroscience were made clearer through examples of Synesthesia – a condition where “crosswiring” in the neural connections cause individuals to perceive more than one sense at the same time eg. Colours may be visualized when hearing a sound, a number or a letter of the alphabet. Research surrounding this condition has aided neurologists with further investigation to how the creative brain may function.

Supported by ANAT and RMIT University.

The following list was given to me by Bruce Wands, Director, NY Digital Salon & Chair, MFA Computer Art Department, School of Visual Arts, New York –

And, a final comment, Bruce is worth contacting if you are interested in the NY Digital Salon. Few Australian artists are represented on the site – and I believe there could be more. Check out the site –


Artport, Whitney Museum of American Art Portal to Net Art, New York,

ASCI (Art & Science Collaborations, Inc) New York

BANFF Centre New Media Institute, Canada

Biforms Gallery, NY

Boston Cyberarts, USA

C3 Centre for Culture and Communication, Hungary,

Centre Pompidou Net Art, France

Creative Time, USA


CRUMB (Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss) –

DIA Center for the Arts Web Projects, USA,

Digital Arts Development Agency UK

Digital Craft Museum of applied Arts Frankfurt, Germany

Digital Art Museum

Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Germany

Electronic Arts Intermix, USA

ENCART (European Network for Cyberart)

Engine 27 USA

Experimental Television Center USA

Eyebeam USA


FACT (Film & Art Creative Technology) UK

Franklin Furnace USA

Harvestworks USA

IAMAS (Institute of Advanced New Media Arts and sciences), Japan

Intelligent Agent USA

InterCommunication Center (ICC) Japan

ISEA (Inter-society for the Electronic Arts) Canada

Java Museum

The Kitchen

Leonardo/International Society for the Arts, sciences and technology

Location 1 USA

Ljubljana Digital Media Lab

MECAD (Media Centre of Art and Design) Spain

Mediaterra Greece

American Museeum of Moving Image USA

National Video Resource USA

Net Art Review


New Media Beijing

New Media Scotland

New York Center for Media Arts USA


Pixel Gallery Canada

Postmasters Gallery, USA

Post Media Network, USA

Rhizome, USA

Run Me Software art Repository

SAT Canada

SFMOMA e-space

SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group for Graphics of the Association for Computing Machinery)

SMARTlab (Site-Specific Media Arts Research and Tools) UK

Tate Webart UK

The New Center for Art and Technology USA


Turbulence, USA

V2_Organisation, Institute for the Unstable Media, Netherlands

Walker Art Center Gallery 9 USA

Web Net Museum France

Zero One, USA

ZKM (Zentrum fur Kultur und Medien/Center for Culture and Media Germany)

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