Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

Flashes of Perception

miksang-mosaicA few weekends ago I had the opportunity to participate in a Miksang Level 1 workshop lead by  Janice Van Dijk.  I’ve wanted to take this workshop for a few years now, but up until now it has only been offered in Ottawa and Toronto so I’m thankful to Janice for bringing the practice to Kingston.

Miksang is a contemplative approach to photography and the focus of the first level is to synchronize the eye and the mind.  This is done by becoming aware of things in your environment that catch your eye and then taking a photograph of exactly what your flash of perception was without all of the distractions.   It is through this mindful approach that you are able to enter a meditative state and the  minimal look of most Miksang photographs results from reducing what caught your eye down to the pure visual elements of colour, light, pattern, and space.

Over the course of the weekend we did several assignments that focused on color, light (patches of light, shadows, and texture created by light), patterns, space and dots in space. The full set of images taken during the workshop can be found here.

Painted Hand Ads

Moose HandsI noticed this very cool ad when I was passing through the Orlando Airport and was immediately taken by the stunning hand art as well as the clever way the message of the ad was communicated.  I was curious if there were more like this and it turns out that this is part of a larger series promoting international access with AT&T wireless  – click here to see some of the other painted hand images representing other countries around the world such as India and Zimbabwe. It turns out that AT&T isn’t the only one whose used this technique, however, I  think that their painted hands are the best of the bunch in terms of detail and expression.

Plugging In

Technology adds nothing to art. Two thousand years ago, I could tell you a story, and at any point during the story I could stop, and ask, Now do you want the hero to be kidnapped, or not? But that would, of course, have ruined the story. Part of the experience of being entertained is sitting back and plugging into someone else’s vision.

Penn Jillette, Interview in WIRED magazine

Growing up I was a huge fan of both Choose Your Own Adventure books and more traditional linear novels. I certainly liked the idea of being able to choose my own path in the story, however, I never seemed to choose correctly and always ended up making choices that lead to an unfortunate and premature end. On the other hand, with the more traditional novels I was never left disappointed at how things ended. Whether I finished the last page with a feeling of sadness or joy I cannot recall a single time where I wished it had ended differently, even in the most tragic circumstances. The linear novel may have restricted my involvement in plot development, however, I think that it was precisely because my involvement was limited (i.e. that I sat back and plugged in to some else’s vision) that I was more satisfied and enriched by the experience.

Matters of choice have been on my mind as of late (mostly due to the fact that I am reading The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz) and issues of technology almost always are. I’ve pretty much taken it as a given that more user choice, more interactivity, is the golden standard that is being aimed for as technology develops and evolves. However, I can’t help but wonder if there are certain situations, in entertainment, education and user interface (three areas where interactivity and user choice are touted as ideal) where choice should be restricted and the flow of the narration or the experience should be left to those who are skilled enough to make those choices in the first place.

Would I have felt differently if I had made more successful choices while reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a child, or is there something to be said for sitting back and plugging in and letting a experienced storyteller choose the adventure for you?

Considerate Creator

I just completed my PersonalDNA – a fun, free and eerily accurate personality test. According to the DNA test results, I’m a considerate creator which is explained a bit more in the personalDNA map below. The map can be read by moving your mouse over any part of the box or strip to learn more about the traits that the colors represent. For those who prefer words, the full report can be found here.

Not only can you share you tests with others but you can also invite them to assess your personality. Click here if you’d like to asses me – I’m curious to see different assessments and if they match up at all. I must admit, all of the traits seem rather positive so it’s hard to go wrong however you answer. There is no obligation from either myself or the system to share the test once completed, and I’d be happy to return the favour. I?��Ǩ�Ѣd also like to see how other people did on the test, so feel free to post links your own assessments in the comments section.

In addition to being a pretty darn accurate personality test and a fun way to get to know others, the test itself has a pretty cool interface. Instead of using your standard checkboxes and radio buttons, the interface was designed with sliding scales and animations. Having a range of values makes the questions a lot easier to answer as you aren’t stuck in the “yes/no” or “yes/maybe/no” trap. My favourite was the glass animation where you had to “pour” your answers into a glass. I don’t know if these features make the results more accurate, but they sure do make writing the test all the more fun.

Update: I had a few friends asses me and it turns out that in addition to being a Considerate Creator, I’m a Dynamic Inventor, Animated Creator, and a Benevolent Creator x 2. Thanks to everyone who helped out – it was a lot of fun!


This painting has slowly been making its way from my mind to the canvas since the idea to paint it flashed into my head several months ago. It’s hard to believe that I haven’t picked up a paint brush since high school, but I can see how recent pursuits of photography and doodling have influenced both my perspective and technique.

A Doodle a Day

A collection of my doodles, similar to the one seen in the header above, is now online in Dan Zen’s Gallery 2010. Thanks to Dan for hosting the doodles as well as a bunch of other artwork by some fantastic artists from the Hamilton area. A different piece from each artist is displayed every day, so be sure to check back often.