Creating Creative Spaces

Speaking of Creative Spaces, I had actually been in such one recently; or rather, it was a place where people discussed how to create creative spaces”: a symposium on this topic was held the Utrecht University. If the picture above does not convey the feeling of ‘creativity’, I can show another one, of a completely psychedelic carpet in this very auditorium that created a strikingly creative contrast with the ash-grey chairs 🙂

I visited only the last day of the three-day event, and I know that the first two days, of the field-trips and practical workshops, had been voted by the participates as ‘simply amazing. But the last day, of more reflective presentations and debates, was of great value as well. I’ve learned quite a lot, and also met a whole range of new and interesting people. The day was kicked off by Remko van der Lugt, from the HU (whom I know for many years already) and who shared a few theoretical frameworks and some practical examples of what can be defined as ‘creative space’:

There was a cascade of interesting presentation after that (too pity that some of them were run in parallel, so you couldn’t follow them all without creative cloning): I won’t tell about all, but will mentioned the one by Jaap Warmenhoven, from the Twynstra & Gudde consultancy; apparently they’ve built a special space (-s even, since Jaap told us that they’ve just completed the second one). The last ‘creative room’ they was developed in collaboration with theater designers, and is a very interactive and reconfigurable space; I am keen to learn more about this case, and will try to visit these rooms at some point.

The gem of the day was a presentation by David Kirsh, cognitive psychologist from UC San Diego; I remember listening to his presentation some years ago, at the TU/e, when he talked about his theory of ‘cognition distributed in space’. I remember a mixed feeling of profound insightfulness and ‘what’s new here?’ after his lecture. Familiar with the schools of psychology by Vygotosky, Luria and Leontiev, I can’t be really surprised by the very idea that our thinking is mediated by the externalized physical artifacts (=’tools’ how they will be defined by these folks.) Yet David also provided a plethora of very nuanced observations and conclusions, situated in a variety of contexts, and was a real intellectual pleasure to listen to him.

That was the case in Utrecht again; the presentation was long, rich, insightful and brilliantly performed; situated learning was happening right here-and-now, and when talking about cognitive costs of interruptions he was brilliantly interrupted, and.. what was the topic I was going to tell?

Oh, yeah! Both David’s site and a wikipedia page are full of resources – papers, presentations etc, really worth visiting and reading. I tried to capture as many slides as I could, and most likely will compile them into one set, with my comments etc, and will place it here too. But David was also showing a lot of interesting examples from his work with a dance troop, with the videos. That was more difficult to record, I only have a few photos of that; I hope that the organizers will found a way to share it with us all somehow.

There were many more interesting stories too, of course; all in all, it was a very informative day, and very reassuring. It confirmed that many things we try to achieve with Summ()n, namely our experiential exploration of possible futures (which by definition involves spatial aspects) resonates very well with people. I amy only regret a bit that we didn’t know about such an event in advance, otherwise we would contributed into it more actively, for example, by presenting one of our spatial installations (e.g., Walking Backward to the Future).

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