Creativity and Metaphor

Issue 26 July 2016

On Creativity and Metaphor in Art and Science

In his important book, ‘Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art’ (published in 2014), Arthur I Miller discusses the ‘fusion’ of art and science, telling the story of how artists, scientists and technologists are working together to create a new art movement, which he calls ‘artsci’. In this exclusive interview he discusses ideas that will be the subject of his forthcoming book, exploring creativity and metaphor in art and science – “I have always believed that creativity can be unravelled…..”

Joining the creative dots: A personal journey through Science to Art

Jasmine Pradissitto describes herself as “a practising Quantum Artist and Creativity Warrior”, a “painter who sculpts with light and colour using the scientific knowledge accumulated over years of experience”. In this exclusive article, she discusses her work and her thoughts on the creative process, on the role of metaphors and how to communicate them, combining a lifetime of being both a physicist and an artist, with teaching skills gained during her 19 years as Director of Proeducation Ltd.

Creativity in a Nutshell

“Human creativity is something of a mystery, not to say a paradox. One new idea may be creative, while another is merely new. What’s the difference? And how is creativity possible? Creative ideas are unpredictable. Sometimes, they even seem to be impossible — and yet they happen. How can that be explained? Could a scientific psychology help us to understand how creativity is possible?”

When ‘The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms’ was first published, Margaret A. Boden’s bold and provocative exploration of creativity broke new ground. In this book she uses examples such as jazz improvisation, chess, story writing, physics, and the music of Mozart, together with computing models from the field of artificial intelligence to uncover the nature of human creativity in the arts.

This article formed the introduction to the book and is republished for the Interalia Magazine with the kind permission of Margaret A. Boden.

Utrechts Psalter 2016 A.D.

In the first months of this year, twenty Dutch artists with a background in comics devoted themselves to the early medieval songbook Utrecht Psalter. They had received an assignment from the Utrecht University, who have custody of the book, to illustrate one given psalm in their own, modern style. Their orientation material was the ancient text and accompanying ancient drawing, each filling about half of the surface of the Psalter’s parchment pages, giving the book, at first sight, a strong resemblance to a modern graphic novel. Also, upon closer study, one learns that the illustrations sometimes follow the Psalms, stanza after stanza, in elaborate non-linear compositions. Every one of them drafted in a flexible but accurate, clear style that is emotional and almost cartoonish.

The artists were asked to add to their work no, or minimal text, for that would be placed integral next to the image in the final publication; and if they designed a serial structure for their narrative they were asked to do this without frames. For their content no restrictions were imposed, contrary to the original illustrator team – monks who then had to operate within the church hierarchy- so any religious or political connotations would be the artist’s individual choice.

This resulted in a broad variety of works that were publicly displayed in the landmark Utrecht Dom cathedral in April 2016, and bundled in the ‘Utrechts Psalter 2016 AD’ album (which can be obtained through (Information on the original Utrecht Psalter can be found at

You can read below how, in this task, the creative process from six out of these twenty artists has run. (Albo Helm)

Metaphorical thinking and creativity

Cognitive psychologist Mark A. Runco is a leading creativity researcher whose empirical work focuses on idea generation and divergent thinking. Nearly 30 years ago, he founded the Creativity Research Journal, which he still edits, and in 2014, he founded the new journal Business Creativity and the Creative Economy. He co-edited the Encyclopedia of Creativity in 1999 and 2011. In this exclusive interview he discusses creativity and metaphorical thinking.

Are some cultures more creative than others?

“South-East Asian version of creativity differs to the Western version of creativity……..there is an appetite on both sides to find a common ground or at least ways to bridge the perceived creativity gap between the broadly collectivist form of creativity seen in Asian and the more individualistic form of creativity which is idiosyncratic of most Western cultures in order to capitalise on shared cultural and economic ventures.”

In this exclusive article for the Interalia Magazine, long-time teacher, Stuart Boydell explores the differences between Western and South-East Asian ideas of creativity, and asks the question that if “there are two differing conceptualisations of creativity broadly divided down an east-west divide, what then does all this mean for the future?”

The Color of Quarks

The Color of Quarks is an artistic project exploring the representational problems of modern physics by scrutinizing its employment of metaphors. Currently consisting of an audible essay and the following thesis, the work examines the metaphorical act as it manifests itself in the natural sciences, not solely as semantic fillers, but as creative constructs transcending the faculty of language. The essay also proposes a conception that what is typically referred to as binary oppositions; the hard and the soft sciences, often romanticized as The Brain and The Heart, do have more in common than what the involved parts may want to acknowledge.

Creativity and Language

Creativity in language has conventionally been regarded as the preserve of institutionalised discourses such as literature and advertising, and individual gifted minds. In this exclusive interview, Ronald Carter, Emeritus Professor of Modern English and bestselling author, explores the idea that creativity, far from being simply a property of exceptional people, is an exceptional property of all people.

Empathy, metaphor and ‘dynamic painting’

“… my life is a continuing conversation with myself and with the world, in which the courage to act is renewed through attention, reflection, and connection …”

As well as being an artist, Lynne Cameron has also been a Professor of Applied Linguistics; a teacher of children and adults; a trainer of teachers. She has written articles and books on complex systems theory and applied linguistics, on metaphor, reconciliation and empathy, and on teaching languages to young learners.

In this exclusive interview she discusses not only her artwork but also the relationship between metaphor and dynamics of empathy.

Authenticity and Computer Art

“A very common reaction to computer art is to withhold acceptance in principle, to refuse to regard it as authoritative under any circumstances because, inevitably, it lacks authenticity.”

In this article, Margaret A. Boden asks whether the notion of authenticity can be applied to any/all types of computer art. Among other things, she describes some of the problems faced by David Cope when people refused to accept his Emmy-program’s compositions as “music”.

Mr. Turner, artist, meets Mrs. Somerville, scientist

The great 19th century English artist J. M. W. Turner had an innovative style that earned him the title “the painter of light” and is considered a forerunner of Impressionism. A different aspect is that Turner’s works were influenced by the technology of the time and its scientists. One such link was with Mary Fairfax Somerville, a Scotswoman recently honored for her pioneering scientific work by her portrait on a Scottish banknote.

Creativity and Metaphor video blog link

Featuring – Sir Ken Robinson: Can Creativity Be Taught? ; an interview with David Cope ; ‘Beautiful Minds: The Enigma of Genius’: a discussion between Brian Greene, R. Douglas Fields, Philip Glass, Rex Jung, Dean Keith Simonton, Julie Taymor and Marcus du Sautoy ; and ‘Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind’: a discussion between James Fallon, Kay Redfield Jamison, Susan McKeown and Elyn Saks