Queensland Museum

SALON: Wired for Genius: The Roots of Creativity in Artists & Machines

12/03/2016 Queensland Museum
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Queensland Museum


Queensland Museum & Sciencentre, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia




15:00 - 16:30


Adult: $20 Concession: $15
Nancy Andreasen Participant Nancy Andreasen
Andrew Brown Participant Andrew Brown
Simon Kyaga Participant Simon Kyaga
Natasha Mitchell Moderator Natasha Mitchell
Gerfried Stocker Participant Gerfried Stocker

Wired for Genius: The Roots of Creativity in Artists & Machines

Can the passion that fuels a work of art be mimicked by machines? Inspired by the terror inflicted during a World War II bombing, Picasso painted the Weeping Woman, one of his most famous works of art. Now computer scientists are trying to harness that creative spark, developing computers that can paint, compose music and design complex puzzles and games.

Critics argue these smart machines aren’t creative; they’re merely extensions of their programmers. But what if the machine is taught to rewrite its own code, becoming better—and more distinct—from its original program? At what point does the machine own its creativity?

Joined by leading experts in psychology, neuroscience and computational creativity, this program explores the roots of creativity in humans and computers, what artificial creativity can teach us about our own imaginations, and the promise of systems that build on the capabilities of both.

What is a Salon event?
World Science Festival Brisbane SALON events invite you to dive deeper into the science of specific topics, these informal discussions challenge participants to consider their shared passions from a fresh perspective.

By starting a dialogue, the Salon is designed to spark new explorations of science by the participants and the audience. The Salon sessions are smaller in capacity so audience and participants can enter into conversation at a detailed and thorough level.

Image credit: Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso completed by June 1937.

Meet the speakers

Nancy C. Andreasen
 is the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of the Iowa Carver College of Medicine. A recipient of the President’s National Medal of Science, she pioneered the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify brain mechanisms of normal cognitive processes such as memory and creativity, as well as mental illnesses.

She led the first extensive empirical study of creativity that demonstrated the association between creativity and mood disorders. She is currently conducting a second major study of creativity in prominent artists and scientists using neuroimaging techniques.

Andrew R. Brown is an educator, researcher, musician, author and programmer. He holds a Ph.D. in music and is Professor of Digital Arts at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. His academic expertise is in technologies that support creativity and learning, the creation of computational music and art, and the philosophy of technology. Andrew’s creative activities focus on real time audio-visual works using generative processes and live coding performance. He has performed live coding and interactive music in many parts of the world and his digital art works have been shown in galleries across Australia, USA and China. He is the author of Music Technology and Education: Amplifying Musicality, co-author of Making Music with Computers: Creative Programming in Python, and editor of Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music.

Simon Kyaga is an attending physician in psychiatry at Lidingö Affektiva Mottagning, and researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.  After meeting several patients with exceptional creative talent, he became increasingly interested in the ancient myth of a close relationship between genius and madness.

Natasha Mitchell is a multi-award winning ABC journalist and presenter. She has hosted a range of flagship programs including the national, daily morning show, Life Matters (2012-16), and the popular science, psychology & culture radio program, All in the Mind (2002-12), on ABC Radio National. Natasha served as a board member and vice president of the World Federation of Science Journalists (2009-13).

Her broadcast work has received accolades internationally, including the overall Grand Prize and 4 Gold World Medals at the New York Radio Festivals, among other awards. Natasha was recipient of a prestigious Knight Fellowship at MIT/Harvard (2005-6), and a Marine Biological Laboratory Journalism Fellowship at Woods Hole. She served on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee (2009-11), and was co-editor of the book anthology, ‘Best Australian Science Writing 2013’.

Gerfried Stocker is a media artist and telecommunications engineer. In 1991, he founded x-space, a team formed to carry out interdisciplinary projects, which produced numerous installations and performances featuring elements of interaction, robotics and telecommunications. He has been artistic director of Ars Electronica since 1995.

In 1995-96, he headed the crew of artists and technicians that developed the Ars Electronica Center’s pioneering new exhibition strategies and set up the facility’s in-house R&D department, the Ars Electronica Futurelab.
Gerfried Stocker appears with thanks to QUT.

Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum & Sciencentre, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia