Plenary Session:

“The Future of Creativity”

Mona Kasra, Artist and Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Virginia (UVA)

Mona Kasra, “Humanitarian Crises Through the Lens of Immersive Media”

Description: Can one transcend borders and boundaries through the use of immersive media to experience what it’s like to be an immigrant, a migrant, or a refugee? Can one understand the risks, aspirations, and personal sacrifices that involve journeys of contemporary migration via emerging virtual reality technologies? Moreover, if the experiences are compelling and visceral enough to trigger a strong emotional reaction in the audience, can one transcend the virtual/physical limits of the experience to bring a change in the world one inhabits?

As recent art and virtual reality experiences such as “Clouds Over Sidra” and “Carne y Arena” aim to rewrite the stories of contemporary crossings and migrations, the excitement surrounding the new immersive media in creating humanitarian empathy begs critical reflection about the experiential, contextual, and emotional affordances as well as the implications of using the VR technology for embodying the lives of others. Does the compassion one feels toward another person in VR go beyond the virtual/physical boundaries, or does it end at the moment one leaves the headset and turns of the device?

Drawing on several recent 360-degree films and interactive VR installations that offer intense experiences of the global refugee and migrant crisis by transporting the audience to the heart of the displacement (incl. a project developed in my lab), in this presentation I will reflect on the representational, affective, and creative possibilities of immersive media. I will also describe some of the critical outcomes and limitations of these projects in bridging cultures, geographies, and politics.

Pamela L. Jennings, “Building a Creative Computational Pedagogy from Bauhausian Foundations”

Description: The Department of Art + Design at North Carolina State University is the newest program in the College of Design. However, the “arts” played a critical role in the pedagogy of otherwise professional design education since the inception of the college. Influenced by the Bauhaus and its refugees, who forged a home for experimental learning at Black Mountain College, NCSU attracted a few to set roots in Raleigh. The “arts” became a service to the “professional” design fields of architecture an industrial design by providing the foundations pedagogy. Since its inception as its own department, Art + Design has tussled to loosen the reigns of traditional foundations for a seat at the table of progressive pedagogy, practice, and research. Over the past two decades of reinvention the department has formed into a burgeoning tour-de-force of integrative learning and creativity that situates emerging practices on the foundation of traditional arts and crafts.

Pamela L. Jennings, Ph.D, MBA

Mark d’Inverno, Professor of Computer Science and Pro-Warden (International) at Goldsmiths, University of London

Mark d’Inverno, “The Future of Creativity”

Description: There is a constant buzz around the word creativity. Reference to it has spread prolifically since the 1950s within and beyond academia, associated with novelty, value, imagination and innovation. What could be wrong with that? Plenty, we argue.

Indeed it has become so ubiquitous across education, sport, marketing, politics and everyday use that it has become to mean very little more than which we approve of. We challenge the extensive and expansive use of this term – both in and out of academic – and propose an alternative terminology that regains a meaning and currency for the kind of activity we want to teach in schools and universities. We use the term “creative activity” in opposition to “creativity” and through the lens of recent research and teaching innovation at Goldsmiths, look to answer the following key questions:

  • What is human creative activity?
  • What pedagogy should we use for teaching creative activity?
  • How can we frame AI research to inspire human creative activity rather than replace it?
  • We look to respond to these by drawing on backgrounds in music, education and AI research.