Insight From the Second Creativity Conference in NYC

Insight From the Second Creativity Conference in NYC

There are some who believe creativity is a gift given to only a handful of people. Those of us who regularly engage in the practice of making art understand that we all have the ability to create something that has never existed before. It is common for us to struggle in our search for inspiration, and self-doubt can be a powerful enemy. A new organization may be of assistance to those who chose to engage in this struggle.

The Creativity Conference is the brainchild of filmmaker Maxim Jago, who is on a mission to explore and understand the motivation and process people use in the creation of artistic projects. This year’s event was the second time that Maxim has assembled a team of creatives at the Microsoft Garage in New York City for a day-long series of presentations. Speakers offered insight into how they approach creative projects.

Maxim Jago photographed in New York City by John Ricard. Nikon Z9

Maxim Jago: Keynote Address

Maxim explained his motivation for hosting this event and an upcoming three-day event that will take place in Iceland in August. “The goal of the Creativity Conference is to provide a forum in which people can feel safe being childlike again and thinking about creativity. I think the whole world would be better if we all did when we were seven :’I like you. Do you like me? I've got some cake and a toy Batmobile. Do you want to play?’"

What we set out to do with the Creativity Conference is be a little reminder that yeah, there are wrinkles in the cloth that we need to smooth out, but it's a pretty beautiful cloth, and life is beautiful, and we're very lucky to be here. By any scientific standard, the chances of us existing are nil. With the rise of AI technology, the question arises, how can we, as human beings, bring our unique value?
I am forecasting that we will find truly validated human-created content that will become a premium value for people — not because the design is better than AI-generated design, but because it's a way of connecting with the human being who created it. As a creative, it doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur creating new business models, a parent raising children, an architect designing buildings, or a choreographer creating a dance. You have a unique voice and the world needs to hear it.
Don’t try to be someone else. I tried to be Batman. I fell off a tree. It wasn’t a good look. 
Artificial intelligence is very quickly learning how to influence us, and unlike people, it has no feelings. We are in danger of creating a technology that can easily manipulate us and influence our behavior, and it doesn't care that it's doing it. It only has the agenda that we've given it, and this is why we have to be careful. We are driven by our feelings, so if an artificial intelligence comes along and says 'this is important,' it may not seem to us that this information is coming from AI. It may feel like it is coming from a person. 
I think we serve the future best by enabling children and all people to be better at thinking. We need to teach children not what to think, but how to think. By engaging in the creation and development of the future, you are choosing life. You are choosing to participate in your own life, to be a participant in being alive rather than begrudgingly letting life happen to you. You're an active participant in the dance.
The dangerous time for us comes when AI designs AI. We get about three generations of that, and we will have no clue how it works. In fact, after just one generation, we barely have any clue how it works. I think the key to the next golden age is kindness. Kindness means doing what’s right for the other person, whether or not it's right for you. We get to choose whether we’re governed by love or fear. When you're making big life decisions, ask yourself if is this a love-motivated decision or a fear-motivated decision. Love is a better guide.m.

Samantha Tauber: Attuning to Our Creative Divinity

Samantha Tauber photographed in New York City, by John Ricard. Nikon Z9

Samantha Tauber, otherwise known by her Metaverse persona VNCCII, is a Metaverse musician and storyteller who spoke about tapping into her creativity in the formation of her avatar. The avatar represents a super-sentient AI superheroine from the future. 

She created this avatar after pondering how she could help to uplift the consciousness of humanity with as much love as possible. Music is her current medium, but she plans to extend her avatar’s presence far beyond music shortly. Samantha encourages everyone to take advantage of the wealth of information available online that allows one to manifest and share their creative ideas.

Prior to 18 years old, my background was not in tech or computers, but I did a major pivot and became a full-on tech-girl post-18 years old because I realized that I needed to communicate a very important message. So, I taught myself all the tools I needed to teach myself to communicate the message. Most of my education was to do with humanities and the arts. 
So, I began teaching myself all the tech, like Ableton Live and Unreal Engine and motion capture, using YouTube tutorials, DIY, experimentation, and a lot of hours and grinding. The message I'm trying to communicate about creativity is that we all have our own tuning forks within us, and these are gifts given to us by the universe. And it's up to us to attune to that gift and to realize that we are all interconnected. The greatest fulfillment of human potential is to embrace life from a position of love and not fear. Choose love.

Amy Peck: Everything You Think You Know About Everything Is Wrong (And How You Can Change It)

Amy Peck photographed in New York City, by John Ricard. Nikon Z9

Amy Peck, founder & CEO of EndeavorVR spoke on the topic, “Everything You Think You Know About Everything Is Wrong”. 

Rather than approaching technology from a perspective of fear, let's look at the things that make us human and help us kind of elevate our own thought process. Mindfulness is important. The science of mindfulness and neuroplasticity, it's about just opening up different neural pathways, and helping us just change the way we think about the world and be more fantasy driven. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but we just don't give ourselves the opportunity to kind of dream and dream up what we care about, because we're in this sort of day-to-day spiral.
Everything we think we know is going to change, especially when you consider that we can't evolve as quickly as technology can. As humans, we have the opportunity to completely change the dynamic, to change the narrative, and not be so reliant on what is true or what is factual. But the critical element of that as well is engendering empathy, and understanding that arguments are not black and white; that everything can be viewed in shades of gray and people should just agree to disagree. You look at where social media has gone and news outlets, and it's very polarizing. And that doesn't serve us as humans. We need to be able to say, oh, okay, that's an interesting perspective, here's what I'm thinking. And then if you can't agree, that's okay. 
It doesn't have to be a fight. We have to start caring about each other on a broader level. And this isn't about making the world a better place the way Silicon Valley talks about it. This is about being human and carving out a path forward as humans in the wake of this technology that is going to far exceed our capabilities, and really already is.

Andi Sweeney: Crafting the Self Through Story

Andi Sweeney photographed in New York City, by John Ricard. Nikon Z9.

Andi Sweeney, film and stage actress, TV host, and producer, spoke on “Crafting the Self Through Story.”

I believe that all creativity stems from an innate human nature that we all have within us: a creative element. And something that I believe in is co-creation, meaning that everything in our lives manifests from us wanting a specific place that we want to go to, from, or something specific that we're reaching towards, but also figuring out how we're going to get there. Nobody can ever know, of course, what bumps in the road, we're going to hit. And that's where fear can freeze an artist up. But when fear becomes a compass, and we switch our minds around, and we start to tag into the moments that are the things that bring us the most fear, I believe that those are the things that most need attention, and most need work. And so, they become a compass for us to dive into that specific field and go for it. 
I host a TV show called 'The Fixers.' We document expert builders going into communities worldwide, building hope and empowering dreams through construction projects. We have visited places such as Guatemala, Bangladesh, Suriname, Lisbon, Portugal, and Leeds, UK. We are going to Belize and Jamaica next. I didn't think that I was going to be anyone that they were interested in to host a show like that. Why? Because I'd never done it before. And I was afraid. However, when I went in, there was something about me and my story, that resonated with what they were looking for. And so then it came to me, to say yes to the project when it was offered. But that was not an easy decision. It sounds like an amazing job, but when we're afraid, there are all these thoughts of 'why do I deserve this? Why not some other person?'
With each new endeavor, you are writing a new story. But some creatives and writers think that they think they need to be a finished product before they can begin. They believe they need to have done all the research before they can write a book. They need to have been on multiple shows before they can host a show. But how can you do that if you've never done it? And so that state of creativity, being one where you are listening for cues, as much as you're putting out into the world, that is co-creation. How you lead your life and the values with which you work off of are going to be the very same ones that you create from.
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John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his Instagram. accounts, and

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I was really struck by what Andi Sweeney said. Fear is a motivator, or as Doctor Who said, Fear is a superpower. I was on a podcast last year where I realized that fear was really holding me back from doing work that excited me. I was afraid to fail. I'm working to overcome that and it seems to be working. Having others to co-create with certainly helps with that. It's like jogging, you can always give up when it's just you but if you've promised to jog with someone else you're letting them down if you quit. This is what really makes me love co-creating.

Yeah, having an accountability partner can definitely help you reach your goals. And since we are quoting TV shows...let's not forget Mr. Myagi from the Karate Kid who told Daniel, "Ok, to lose to opponent. Must not lose to fear." Love that scene ;)