Creativity and The Machine (The Creativity Series)

NPR Studio 360: Are Computers Creative

“This week, Kurt Andersen asks: can computers make art? And if so, when?  Will it be any good?  We’ll meet a program named AARON that’s been painting for nearly 40 years, a filmmaker who replaced her editor with an algorithm, and professor who thinks what computers need is more Shakespeare.

It’s 4pm, and I’m in my car. I put on WYNC, the local NPR station, and the program Studio 360 begins. The question that starts the show is “Are Computers Creative?”, and the first thing you hear is about a computer named Brutus that is writing a novel.


Well, the creator of Brutus goes on to say that all Brutus is doing, through its algorithms and pathways and thingamajigs is a copy of what he and the other programmers have, well, programmed it to do. It’s aping the apes, so to speak.

Then there is the inventor of The Creativity Machine, Stephen L. Thaler, Ph.D. An A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) computer that he states that yes, machines CAN be original and creative, and they have the machine to prove it. They just send a jumbled signal through, and it produces music and more.

Then there is AARON above, that has been painting for almost 40 years (photo on the linked page); a machine named Darci that judges Art, and…well, the program link is above. Just click on the title and it will take you to the Studio 360 page. Well worth the listen.

So…what do you think? Welcome to the Machine?

What’s In Your Interpretive Wallet?

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

 Marcus Aurelius Antonius

First, I apologize a teeny tiny bit for the F word above? Missed it? I’ll wait. (btw, notice the “teeny tiny bit”…)

OK…you got it? Good.

The point here, that I am trying to make is this: what YOU get out of art-any piece of art-is what you get out of it. It is your referencing that influences your point of view, your opinion. Sharing it with me, that is ok. Really. I know a few people who don’t believe me when I say that, but, again, that is their opinion and their POV.  I have no problem if you like something and I don’t, or visa versa. Tell me from your POV and don’t proselytize or push your opinion as the only correct opinion and we’ll be fine. Really.

Case in point: I am not a fan of Charles Ives music. The cacophony of sounds he produces gives me the heebie jeebies. In mentioning this to a musician a few years ago, she expressed the complete opposite feeling. In a very positive dialogue, she expressed how it felt to PLAY Charles Ives, what it meant to her, the challenge, the utter sense of beauty she felt in being part of the process, and more. I also wound up researching Ives a bit, reading about the man and how he crafted his music. I walked away with a different perspective. I may not dislike it as much as I had previously, but nothing would have changed if I wasn’t open to listening to a different POV than my own.

BTW, We were participants in an intensive two program about Aesthetics in Art with the Lincoln Center Institute.  Well worth doing for ANY educator, and I strongly suggest it for ANY person who is involved in creating curriculum policy for schools.

Everyone is of course free to interpret the work in his own way.  

I think seeing a picture is one thing and interpreting it is another.
Jasper Johns

For those not in the know, I write creative fiction on my other blog, Tale Spinning. I LOVE getting comments from people about the work, mostly on how they feel about it (good or bad). Telling me how I feel about it, or how they interpret my mood or character or circumstance…not so much. I also don’t like to really tell you, the reader, what I was feeling/thinking when I wrote what I did. Sometimes Stuart’s life bleeds into things here and there (write what you know), but most time it’s the creative imagination, the play with words, the feel of the language, that moves me along.

Your interpretation and feelings are just that: yours. Share it: I’ll be happy to hear it. I find it interesting to hear something resonated with a reader in a way I had not even thought of before. Yes, sometimes a blue curtain, If I were to write that, is nothing more than a blue curtain to me. It’s a descriptive word to give you a visual picture. Is there a deeper meaning? Could be, could not. Does the shade of blue mean anything more then painting a picture? “A rich velvety Sapphire Blue curtain…” is far different a picture than “the curtains were blue.” It still is up to you to decipher what it means to you and how it affects you.

It’s all good, too. Just don’t tell me there is only one answer. Don’t tell me you know what I meant, unless you’ve asked me and I’ve told you first. Silly, silly people, critics and teachers and those who like to argue for the sake of arguing and self importance.

OK…now I am in the mood to go to NYC and walk around The Met or the Frick, maybe MOMA. Anyone want to join me?


Interview with the Writer: S. Nager on S. Nager

For those of you not in the know, I am Co-Hosting a BlogFest starting in October, 2011: The Rule of Three Fiction Writers Blog Challenge.  We created a shared world, the Town of Renaissance, and gave it it’s (slight) back story/history.

The idea is simple:  create three main characters, set in the structure of Renaissance. The writer can choose any genre to write in and any time period of the history of the town. Once a week write a 500-600 word story dealing with one of the main characters (first three weeks) and then in the fourth week, write a culminating story tying up the pieces. The original inspiration came from Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, in which the same story was told by four different people from their own POVs. They all differed in the telling, but as a whole: what an amazing movie.

So…I hope you are interested in stretching your writing muscles. As to today’s post, on, McDuff:

The Rule of Three Co-Host Interviews:

Lisa Vooght
JC Martin
Damyanti Biswas

Portia Burton, illustrator

Lisa Vooght asked me a very interesting question  after I had posted JC Martin’s interview and was doing clean up on hers and Damyanti’s interviews:

“Are you going to answer the same questions and post them?”

Seriously, I had not been thinking about it at all. She thought it’d be silly of me (well, in other terms, but I’ll leave this as is) to not share my own comments to my questions. So, if you are tired of interviews: BLAME LISA! 🙂

As you should know by now, our BlogFest rules are up, and we’re taking names! The Rule of Three: Renaissance is now alive, and we hope the shared world approach appeals to you. The first prompt is all the way down at the bottom of the interview.

Click HERE for all the info you could possible need for our writing event. Send me any questions at my email address or leave it on the Rule of Three page and I or one of the others will do our best to answer you. So…time to get to know the last of the four hosts.

Can you tell the readers about Stuart Nager the author?

I still haven’t settled into the label of being a WRITER yet, or if I ever will. Right now, I find I’m doing exactly what I tell my students not to do: don’t compare yourself who is well known. It’s self defeating. I AM published (yes, only one short story does not a writer make, but…) and that does a lot for me. Next is to keep going this way.

How would you describe your writing style?

I am not sure how I would describe myself yet, as I’m still in the chameleon stage, writing in the creative voice that stirs me day to day. An outside reader may find I’m this way or that at this point in time (9/3/11). I do know I have an eclectic touch, I love using the ellipsis, tend to write some rambling sentences for effect, and I AM a Great Misspeller of Words. What I can say: I’m a writer who loves the feel of language, and how words can play together in ways one may not always see.

Are you a writer who blogs or a blogger who writes? Is there a difference?

Since you asked so nicely: I am a bit of a snob when it comes to this, and I don’t mean to disrespect some with my answer. I really don’t. I write, and blogging is the medium I am using, for the most part, to share my writing . Blogging is not my main goal in life, it’s a means to an end. I never thought I’d enter the world of the Blogger, which I DO think has it’s importance in the way we now connect with others.

What writer(s) have inspired you, and why?

  • Roger Zelazny for his bravery in breathless artistry, no matter what her wrote;
  • Michael Moorcock, for the savage writing chops he exhibited as a leader in the New Wave of Science Fiction writers of the 1960’s, and for giving me Elric and “Behold The Man”;
  • Isaac Asimov for just so much great writing (his Foundation series still stands as one great SciFi trilogy);
  • Kurt Vonnegut Jr. for his early work (sorry) that just threw me against the wall at times (still love “Slaughterhouse 5” and “Sirens of Titan”);
  • Albert Camus, for the existentialist part of me with “The Stranger”;
  • Ray Bradbury, for the amazing “The Martian Chronicle” and so much more; a strong moral voice
  • Robert Heinlein solely for “Stranger In A Strange Land” and creating Grokking. If you have to ask, then you don’t grok. You should. Everyone should Grok!
  • (ps: yes, I used a lot of Wikipedia links. Read it or not, and I won’t excuse myself for being a bit lazy).

What are your thoughts about self publishing? Have you already or do you plan to?

I’ve been told that if I want to be book published, that self publishing will work against you. But, that was told to me way before this surge of Kindle and Nook and all the online readers. If it’s the ONLY way to get your work out to the public, then so be it. Like movies, a lot of times what a studio (publisher) puts out and hypes is not always what I’m going to enjoy. Usually, I’m good with the less publicized ones. So, like indie musicians and indie movie makers: it does not always have to come from the big guns.

I AM thinking of trying my hand at it. More to come on that end. I have a few ideas that I’d like to do with that before I open my big fat mouth.

On top of it, my first published fiction story is self published, so how bad can it be?

I know you like Blogfests. Can you tell us what draws you to them? What was your favorite one?

I’m mixed about blogfests, so it’s funny that Damyanti approached me with the idea of starting one together. What I do like about them is that they get me to write for their deadlines, as opposed to my just meandering and procrastinating. I like writing from prompts, as it gives me a focus, and I’m normally an all over the place thinker. My favorite one that I’ve done is the A to Z one, as it’s what really got me on the track to writing fiction again. I’m pretty sure Renaissance RO3 will trump that one once it’s all said and done.

What bothers me is that sometimes it’s just a numbers game. That’s why I’m excited about this: I hope that it’s much more about writing and telling a good story.  I see a lot of things where people visit blogs only to get them to visit theirs. I would like good storytelling and writing to be the primary goal here.

You are one of the co-runners of The Rule of Three Fiction Writers Blog Fest. What excites you about this, to take this on

I am a concept guy, and creating the town of Renaissance was a blast. So simple in it’s setting, but there is a depth allowed in what is NOT said in the description. I’ve loved many shared worlds in my reading (Thieves World; Wild Cards; Borderland; etc.) and I love the movie by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon. Put them together with using the Rule of Three trope, and…yes, I am excited. Big time. #REN3 RULES!!! Plus, I got to stretch and make the video, might make another one, and it’s really…just too cool.

I have also really enjoyed working with Damyanti, Lisa and JC and Portia. Getting to know them all on a different level has been amazing.  It’s been a great experience, both in the planning and learning parts.

Anything else you’d like the reader to know?

I am in the process of writing my first novel at the request of an agent: she asked for “a great love story” and I am doing my best to please her; I have about six other novel ideas (ouch, yes, pun intended) to write, but a great love story comes first; I continue to perform as a Storyteller around the country, as well as work as a Creative Drama Teaching Artist (and yes, I’m open for bookings in both areas); and…really, just trying to stay creative.  I’ve got two stories I’m working on also for submission, plus a possible new show I’ll be working on with an amazing interactive theater director…so, busy busy busy.

If you could have a summit with world leaders, and they HAD to answer your questions, what two or three questions would you want answered most?

  1. Who do you really serve?
  2. Why are we still acting like barbarian hordes protecting resources and land, when the whole world is hurting?
  3. Would you give up your personal medical and other benefits if the people you serve (supposedly) could have theirs?


And, as promised, the first prompt for the blogfest is:

Click Here (yes, I am a stinker, but all the info is there).

Interview with the Artist: Portia Burton

The Rule of Three Interviews: Illustrator Portia Burton

I met Portia Burton through one of the many FaceBook groups that I’ve been asked to join. You join a group, ask people to friend you within the group, and if you’re lucky, it does not turn into a High School clique, but one of friendship, nurturing and support. I am pretty sure I sent in the request to her (she’ll correct me if I’m wrong), and it was to my utmost pleasure that Portia “friended” me.

Ms. Burton was gracious to be one of the illustrators asked to design a badge for the Rule of Three Blog challenge I am co-hosting. The four of us went back and forth over the designs, and in the end, it was Portia’s badge we chose. You can see it on my sidebar. Since it’s already up on my site Tale Spinning in many ways, I won’t re-post it here. If you want full information, click HERE.

You can visit Portia’s blog, Portia’s World, and read her lovely poetry and see her amazing art. Become a fan. I am.

So, let me introduce you to: Portia Burton:

Tell us a little about Portia the artist.

‘Portia the artist’ may be a misnomer! I just developed my own latent talent for lines and colours myself, following some renowned artists like Van Gogh etc. I learned from art study books and mostly by ‘trial and error’ method.initially I copied many a famous paintings but soon started to express myself in water colour and also in oil on canvas. It was but natural because being a romantic poet at heart I was bound to paint to express ‘the colourful visions’ that I often get and which can not be expressed in words. Though I haven’t done much paintings as such, I do adorn my poems with illustrations, because for me words and colours go hand in hand. You may find such ‘illustrated’ poems on my blog ‘Portia’s World‘. I am also attaching some of my paintings here.

What inspires you in for illustrations?

:Not any inspiration but a strong urge to create something colourful makes me paint and illustrate. I always carry a sketch book with me while traveling by tube and draw instant sketches of any fellow passengers whose typical manners catch my fancy or just do ‘fractals’ with colorful sketch won’t believe but the best place for me to design illustrations for my poems is the Church!In that serene atmosphere my words and allied illustrations automatically loose their rough contours and become fluid. I go there mostly in the late afternoon when there is hardly anyone there except for the friendly pastor.He is the first reader of my poems!

Your blog is very inspirational. Can you tell us about the passion(s) that drive you?

:My motivation comes mainly from my mother. She is a wonderful person,very strong in the face of adversities and very gentle like a flower at heart. Though she is a scientist,she is a believer and I have molded myself after her.  Only because of her I have this particular humanist mindset. During the recent London riots I saw how she is made of steel. She was in the forefront when people of our area took upon themselves to clean the litter left behind by the rioters even though she is undergoing therapy for cancer! She thus inspires me and I feel it is my duty to inspire others. LOVE, yes, Love is the passion that drives me. I am so full of love!

You created an absolutely beautiful badge for The Rule Of Three Blog Challenge. Can you tell us the process you went through to create it?
:Oh, steeped in the culture where ‘coat of arms’ or ‘shields’ are everywhere to be seen,it wasn’t much of an effort! The motto ‘Through Words We reveal’ gave me the idea. So I have drawn an open book and a pen in the center, oh, I couldn’t help but write some ‘words’ from Shakespeare on that ‘book’! It was all done in a couple of hours.

What are you working on next? Any large project?
:there are many ideas in my mind but these days I have to devote almost all my time to my ailing mother, but yes, I would like to paint a series of illustrations on ‘the book of revelations’.

Anything else you’d like to say?


Thank you Portia. I hope everyone has a chance to get to explore your site and get to know you.

If you want to see two other pieces of her art, I’ve used them to adorn a story (Are Not You He?) and a poem (He Was the Melody). Please check them out.

The Rule of Three Interview Series

JC Martin,

Lisa Vooght,

Damyanti Biswas

In Case You Missed It-Our Teaser Trailer: