It’s said that the renowned artist Salvador Dali would hold a steel ball in his hand while going for a power nap. When he was just going to enter a state of slumber, his hands would let go of the ball and he would wake up with a start. It’s said that the dreams in that semi-awakened state inspired many of his surrealistic paintings.
At his morning talk at Cannes Lions, Adam Horowitz from MIT Media Labs cited this example to make the audience sit up and take notice on how neuroscience could bring the art of advertising and science together to create a fantastic blend of creativity. He added that intuitive knowledge was getting confirmed by neuroscience.
In a session titled, ‘The biology of an idea’ Horowitz said, that the best ideas today are born from a convergence of art and technology where storytelling coupled with system design, engineering with empathy, algorithmic enhancement to images and products and so on.
He elaborated that the focus is now understanding why this intersection is so compelling and what some of the ancient precedents for this effective convergence are. Current theories in neuroscience suggest the answers to these questions lie within the mechanisms of our own biology, he said adding that the subject was relatively young (just over 50 years old).
Explaining the human brain’s own creative process and explore how this methodology can be mirrored in the new workplace to improve collaboration, and progress the coupling of art and technology.
He said that while the human mind was seeing something, it was also important to understand if it was actually experiencing the same thing. Juxtaposing visuals of scenes along with brain mapping those visuals, he drove home the point of how our brain could be seeing things in a different light than how the eyes perceived it. That was because our previous knowledge that was residing in the memory was leading to constellations of thought and the magic resulted from the science versus the experience.
Horowitz said the human brain was often riding the same path and solving problems, but in a moment of transient hypofrontality, the brain’s network that was executing tasks breaks down from the regular pattern and in that moment old and new knowledge comes together to form a new way of looking at things. He added that it is the reason why after exercise, meditation, day dreaming or taking a shower that people suddenly got a flash of an idea.
Diversity breeds creativity, both biologically and socially and how do we maximise hypofrontal behavior could help us in coming up with better ideas, he said.
Along with him was Benjamin Tritt, an artist who works in the intersection between art and engineering. Tritt gave enough and more examples of how he was inducing the art experience using neural science and was working on the capacity to magnify transient hypo-frontal to work with creativity that’s abstract.
He said that the work of art could be translated to data points using machine intelligence. This process would ensure that one execution of a painting could be altered in limitless ways by exploiting the machine. Tritt demonstrated how he was working with an inkjet printer with 1200 nozzles that was bringing his painting to life. “Things you can do with technology is insane. We shall be having a printer with 10,000 nozzles in the future,” he said. This was akin to getting inside the body of the printer and watching the painting unravel itself, he said
Tritt cited the example of Steve Jobs who mentioned in one of his interviews two decades back that technology was enabling the intersection with artists and engineers. He said, “In the times we live in, a new medium of computing has appeared. Hence artists and scientists got into the field of computing to express their feeling.”