Last week I attended MobileHCI 2011 in Stockholm to participate in the doctoral consortium – a forum for PhD students to present their progress and gain feedback from more experienced researchers (i.e. oldies). It was one of the best experiences of my now two years (eek!) as a PhD student. I got great feedback, and left feeling inspired and encouraged. Thanks to the panel of advisors for making it a very rewarding experience.

The doctoral consortium and subsequent conference were not the only sources of inspiration on this trip, however. After heading to Oslo to visit an old friend I stopped by the Edvard Munch museum to catch a glimpse of The Scream. It wasn’t on display after all, but had been replaced by an exhibition focusing on the creative process behind the paintings.

For each of his major pieces, Edvard went through many hundreds of sketches and variations, playing with the composition, colours and materials. He even went as far as painting many “final” pieces with slight variations and choosing between them. I never knew, but there are multiple Screams in existence – the painting shown here (“History”), had at least 20 versions on display.

I know it’s been said before that creative genius is actually the result of hard work and perseverance, but seeing such tangible examples of something moving from a sketch to a masterpiece was truly inspiring. It humanised the process of creativity.

The photo below is Munch painting “The Sun”, on a very big ladder.

Another source of inspiration was the Nobel Museet in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan. It was full of quotes from laureates about the importance of ideas (especially bad ones), of failing, and of stimulating environments for creativity.

The museum is less about the individual achievements of these exceptional people, but more on what it takes to inspire a person to such heights. There are videos on the process of creativity, sources of inspiration from notable laureates, and more.

This has been a very inspiring trip, I hope to return to Scandinavia very soon.


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