How can we access our creativity?

I saw this speech by John Cleese, you know, the Monty Python guy. On the subject of creativity. He’s one of the people who definitely have authority on this subject.

So. What did I learn?

Being creative is a way of operating. In this state, there is no right or wrong. It’s being playful. Almost childlike.

Of course, in a second step, it may be important to evaluate our work. But we often overlook the importance of being totally open-minded, free from immediate results, just for a while.

So, how do we get into this state? We play. We just start playing.

How? Did we forget how to play?

Re-learning how to play

I had an idea. A simple program. You say things and it shows you pictures of it. So I went and built that.

I used the Google Speech API and the Bing Image Search API.

I called it IMAGINE. Here’s what the prototype looked like:

Why hasn’t anyone done this before? Don’t be fooled by my attempt to speak, uhm, professionally — this is so much fun to play around with!

Okay, regroup! What does this have to do with the John Cleese story above? Well, I think I accidentally stumbled onto a way to spark this creativity inside of us.

Putting IMAGINE to the test

I got invited to present IMAGINE at the Artificial Intelligence Event Series at ETH Zürich. I was next to Google and Bosch, so I made sure to put extra effort into making it look interesting. We ended up making it super colorful. Thanks at this point to Anja Temperli!

The exhibition ran for two days. It was a lot of fun (and a little exhausting). I had the chance to talk to all kinds of people and see how they interact with IMAGINE. Really interesting.

A couple of school classes came to visit the event; the kids were super into my exhibition and no explanation needed, so yay!

What was really cool to me was that people who didn’t know what to say, or were too much in their head, opened up really fast after their first words and almost started rambling: horses, Donald Trump, biology, DNA…

A lot of people immediately talked about their hobbies. Some people just said words, others told entire stories.

Sometimes the pictures that came up were on point, other times it seemed a bit random. This didn’t seem to bother anyone. Everyone was just curious what would come up.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to everyone who came, I had a great time!

Here are some more impressions:

I also showed IMAGINE at SwissCognitive’s CognitiveTank and will present it at other locations soon.

What happens now?

Ok, so…

… what I would really like to do is make a super immersive experience out of this. Like, you’re in a cube and there are tiles with images everywhere. Say ‘jungle’ and BOOM, you’re in a jungle.

And also maybe make it more accessible to everyone by making an app or something.

Let’s see where this leads us!

Want to talk to me about IMAGINE or other interesting things? Sounds good!

Update: Get a better feel for IMAGINE is by watching this trailer!

I make things.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store