Ming the Mechanic:
Perceptual Creativity Tricks

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Perceptual Creativity Tricks2003-10-21 05:33
picture by Flemming Funch

If you're trying deliberately to think creatively, to come up with new ideas, having a set of stimulating tricks can help. It is quite possible to stimulate lateral thinking in fairly mechanical ways. Lateral thinking is where, instead of following the usual step-by-step logical paths of thinking, you sort of jump to the side and come up with something entirely unexpected. Ed de Bono is one of the champions of lateral thinking.

An effective and well-known way of provoking lateral thinking is to introduce a random element. For example, while closing your eyes, open up a dictionary and point somewhere on the page, and see what word it is. And then pretend that it has something to do with your problem at hand, and try to figure out how. And some percentage of the time, you'll actually come up with surprisingly good ideas. If you have no problem or idea to start with, you can pick up two words by that method, and then pretend that they relate to each other, and sometime you might actually invent something new.

Arthur Koestler talked about "bisociation" which is the theory that new ideas arise from the combination of two previously separate ideas. I.e. you combine some things in a way that hadn't been imagined before, and to your surprise you realize they actually fit, and a new idea, or a new invention, might come from it. One can practice this simply by taking random words, items or subjects, and exploring what happens if they're combined.

If you do have an idea or problem or invention you're exploring, which looks promising, or which presents an obstacle, there are many things one can do with it to look for creative ways of making it work. Supposedly victorian engineers would work designs for new machines through a checklist of ways it could me done differently, mechanically speaking, and new, better ways might emerge. Some of the same tricks can be applied to most new ideas, even if they aren't exactly about a mechanical invention.

Magnify it; Reduce it.
Reverse it; Spin it; Re-orientate it.
Turn it inside out.
Heat it up; Cool it down.
Move it forward; Roll it backward.
Raise it; Lower it.
Move it left; Move it right.
Project it; Inject it.
Squeeze it; Expand it.
Replicate it; Decimate it; Weed it out.
Make it portable; Make it importable.
Speed it up; Slow it down.
Age it; Rejuvenate it.
Transpose to the past or the future.
Change from analog to digital.
Implement it in hardware or software.
Be it; Do it; Have it.
Take it apart; Put it together
Make it heavier, lighter.
Centralize it; De-centralize it.
Grow it; Design it
Focus on it; Make it peripheral.
Explode it; Implode it.
Wear it, live in it, sit on it, transport it, eat it.
Color it, add sound, touch it.
Take on its identity, what does it feel like, what does it want to do?
Split it in complementary parts, or put it together with its counterparts.
If this exists, what else would exist?
Make it transparent, clear, fuzzy, opaque.
Energize it; Tap its energy.
Make it 1-, 2-, 3-, or 4-dimensional.
Make it have two states (on/off), or have infinite grades.
Put in water, underground, in the air, or in space.
Pressurize it; put it in vacuum.
Make it weightless; increase the gravity.

In other words, play with the new idea or the problem at hand. Stretch it, bend it, turn it upside down, inside out, in any way you can think of. And you might realize that what didn't work on a large scale might work on a small scale, and what didn't work one way might work the opposite way.

Also, when you play with actual perceptions, you're making things more real. Purely abstract ideas have less chance of materializing than if you can actually see them, feel them, hear them, smell them, taste them.

See an old article by Keith Hudson that inspired this article here.

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23 Oct 2003 @ 10:00 by spiritseek : My idea...and your help!
I came up with painting by musical notes, all I need is a color for each note and a shade of colors for lesser notes. By finding out which notes produces the best interaction in color I will either have a nice painting or a song or maybe a combination of the two together. Now all I need is a reference or starting point, or to find out if this has already been done or can be done. I would appreciate any input from you on this please.  

23 Oct 2003 @ 10:24 by spiritseek : Using primary colors with notes...
Whole note use blue, half note use red, quarter note use yellow or
If I use a grid with small squares and each notes color in each square in any design I choose as long as the color corresponds with that note and square. Any suggestions on this?  

23 Oct 2003 @ 13:16 by ming : Color Notes
So, how about if it is combined with a shape too. Maybe one that is moving. Could be in a circle, or horizontally across the canvas.

Anyway, it gets me to think of a painter who made paintings where each stroke corresponded to a note in a piece of music, and he could point out exactly what went with what. And they were huge and very detailed paintings. I believe his name was Michael Patterson, but I can't seem to find him anywhere on the web.  

23 Oct 2003 @ 13:38 by spiritseek : thanks Ming
it gave me more to think about, how many notes are there exactly?  

24 Oct 2003 @ 06:10 by ming : Notes
There are eight whole notes in an octave. And five half-note black keys in that octave on a piano keyboard. I don't understand the rationale for that, but I know there is one. But that is still a rather arbitrary way of dividing up the scale of sound.  

24 Oct 2003 @ 07:02 by spiritseek : So...
on the 8 whole notes in an octave thats where the Do Re Mi comes in right? So this should be the main colors and the half be the mixed colors, would that work best?  

20 Nov 2003 @ 23:00 by judih : great timing
a million thanks for the upheaval posted here!
love it all


Other stories in
2014-11-07 23:12: Welcome to the 5th dimension
2011-11-07 17:22: Notice the incidental
2010-07-14 13:35: Consciousness of Pattern
2010-06-28 00:03: Pump up the synchronicity
2009-10-29 14:03: Convergent or Divergent
2007-08-05 23:45: Perverse incentives
2007-06-22 22:18: Elementary magic
2007-03-21 14:20: Cymatics and group formation
2007-03-15 01:06: Structural holes
2007-02-27 23:50: Leverage

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