Assistant Prof. Daniela Sirbu, Dipl.Eng EECS, BFA,
Department of New Media, University of Lethbridge,
present paper is concerned with the problem of anticipation in creative
artificial systems in visual arts. Possible homologies between natural and
artificial structures and modes of organization are analyzed attempting to
establish a framework for modelling anticipatory creative systems. Intuitive
and conscious anticipatory behaviours involved in human creativity are analyzed
in order to synthesize behaviour patterns and information processing mechanisms
that are transferable to adaptive artificial systems. This transfer aims at
developing systems with emergent self-organizing behaviour capable to generate
new products with the potential to be recognized as original and valuable in
the visual arts domain.
The focus of the present paper is placed on aspects
regarding anticipation and creativity in visual arts. First, the concept of
anticipation is analyzed with reference to novelty and usefulness as main
concepts related to creativity. The concept of anticipation is then approached
with reference to specific aspects of creativity in visual arts. The creative
process in visual arts is placed in evolutionary perspective based on
observations derived from the analysis of inter-relationships between
creativity and anticipation. Finally, the research approach to anticipation in
the visual arts creative process is placed in the GA (genetic algorithms)
framework based on a comparative analysis with previous computational models of
creativity developed in evolutionary perspective.
Most researchers agree that a process is creative if
the resulting product is novel and useful , , . In order to
understand relationships between anticipation and creativity, it is interesting
to analyze how anticipation is related to the notions of novelty and
2.1. Anticipation and Novelty
In accordance with Berlyne , , some of the most
important concepts related to novelty are surprise, incongruity, uncertainty,
conflict, and complexity. These concepts are more or less connected to
anticipation as follows: surprise is perceived in relation to anticipated
outcomes; incongruity occurs when expectations induced by a stimulus are not
fulfilled within the current experience; uncertainty results when anticipated
outcomes have low occurrence probability due to uncommon stimuli or due to
stimuli that allow multiple outcomes with similar degrees of probability;
conflict is related to stimuli activating multiple responses, which come in competition
for dominance; complexity is related to novel stimuli in the sense that the
higher degree of novelty is perceived in a stimulus, the more complex the
stimulus is perceived to be.
Anticipation is thus involved in most aspects of
novelty and it is indirectly involved in the complexity concept. Complexity is
important in the sense that it seems to establish a relation of inverse
proportionality between anticipation and novelty as higher complexity is
perceived in the most novel products. The product novelty is higher if the
creative outcome is significantly different from expectations based on the
system’s embedded knowledge. However, research  shows that this inverse
proportionality is mediated during evaluation phases of the creative process. A
novel product is more likely to survive the evaluation of appropriateness if it
is not radically different from known structures .
2. 2. Anticipation and Appropriateness
Appropriateness of outcomes from creative processes
can be judged based on knowledge embedded in the existing system. This relates
to the structure and functions of the system. If a novel product is useful, it
is supposed to improve the way the system works and thus expand its
functionality. The novel product may
fit in the existing structure by expanding it, or it may require more radical
changes in the system’s structure to make possible the implementation of the
new improved functionality. Envisioning new functionality and changes implied
by it is a conscious process based on existing knowledge and previous
experiences. Anticipation is thus inherent in conscious evaluation of
appropriateness associated with novel products.
2. 3. Anticipation and Creativity in Visual Arts
In accordance with David Huron’s theory ,
anticipation is directly involved in the creation and perception of art related
experiences. Five physiological response sub-systems are identified as
mechanisms triggering anticipation-induced emotions: imagination, tension,
prediction, reaction, and appraisal. The five sub-systems are clearly related
to time and are classified by Huron as pre-outcome (imagination and tension)
and post-outcome (prediction, reaction, and appraisal) responses. Huron
provides an in-depth analysis of anticipation as a structuring device in the
creation and perception of music. The analysis of anticipation in creativity
with application to music is introduced as a case study, however, the theory of
anticipation is supposed to provide a larger theoretical framework with
application to creativity in general. I
briefly analyze how the anticipation applies to the creative process and
perception in visual arts.
The first problem to address is how creativity and
perception in visual arts are linked to anticipation as a time related concept.
If we consider visual art forms traditionally perceived as being static, it is
important to point out that their static character is mostly related to their
immobility and not so much to temporal aspects.
A painting or a drawing, although immobile, cannot be
perceived at once. Instead, attention shifts in a sequential manner from one
place to another along the surface. It was observed  that the compositional
order is contained in space while the sequential analysis in time represents
the means by which the visual artwork is perceived. We understand the
compositional value of a certain detail we are focusing on as we simultaneously
relate it to the entire surface of the painting or drawing. The order in the
temporal progression is not the important factor in perceiving the painting or
drawing. The coexistence or, in temporal terms, the aspect of simultaneity 
between the detail viewed at a given time and the overall hierarchical
structure represents the important aspect in perceiving the artwork. This is
different from the musical composition where composition is embedded in the
When multiple media are involved combining visuals
with sound, music, and motion, the visual perception of the artwork becomes
more closely related with the sequential temporal mode of development specific
to music. The theory of anticipation as advanced by Huron may be easily
expanded to apply to these forms of art. An interesting aspect to analyze is
how anticipation is involved in non-sequential forms or art when all elements
incorporated in the artwork coexist all at once like in painting and drawing.
I approach this problem looking at the functions of
art. First of all, art represents a mode of communication with emotional
implications. Communication is possible if shared knowledge in the form of
experiences, patterns, structures, etc. exist between the artist and the
community he is addressing. The artist works with visual elements that carry
meaning and acquire new meaning in the compositional order created by the artist.
Visual elements manipulated by the artist may not always have meaning in
themselves. However, their arrangement in compositional order may embed meaning
through the new visual structure created by the artist. Based on these simple
observations, we assume that most of the creative process is entwined with
anticipation. The artist expects that his manipulation of visual elements in
new compositional structures will induce certain emotional responses from the
In anticipating viewer’s responses, the artist relies
both on instinctive reactions from the visual perception system and on
conscious reactions based on references to shared knowledge.
An increasingly growing body of research , ,
,  describes anticipation as a “wired-in” mechanism indispensable for
everyday and long term adaptation and survival of biological organisms. In
accordance with some researchers , expectation can be understood as a sense
of future, adding a sixth sense to the traditionally recognized five senses of
sight, taste, touch, smell. Huron shows that while we are inclined to believe
that senses provide us with true information about the surrounding world, their
main role is to increase our survival chances. Emotions triggered by
anticipation do not respond to the true nature of the environmental stimuli.
Their role is to produce adaptive behavioural changes. Huron shows that, in
this respect, emotions are never neutral, but always have a positive or negative
impact on the present state of the mind and body depending on what is expected.
The brain interprets emotional responses for adaptive purposes and the positive
or negative character of emotions spurred by anticipation is the result of how
natural selection determined the evolution of the brain.
Relationships between creativity in visual arts and
anticipation as previously analyzed provide the motivation for analyzing
creativity in evolutionary perspective. Anticipation is largely involved in
everyday life adaptive behaviour. The question raised is how creativity, and in
particular creativity in visual arts, relate to adaptive survival mechanisms.
This question could be answered by relating
creativity to the tendency of expansion inherent to all biological systems and,
hence, to the human biological and social systems. Both concepts of novelty and
usefulness that define creativity can be directly linked to the concept of
Natural and biological systems are characterized by
motion and change starting with their organization at molecular level, and
cellular level respectively, up to the most complex systems. A tendency to
growth or contraction is most probable as static systems in perfect balance and
having no exchange with the surrounding environment are virtually non-existent.
Contraction is a threat, while growth is a positive tendency in terms of
survival chances for given species. Novel products which are useful to a given
social group will certainly facilitate the tendency to expansion increasing the
survival probability. In this perspective, creativity appears as an adaptive
Creativity in visual arts is related to the sense of
sight. The largest amount of information the human being acquires from the
surrounding environment is of visual nature. Learning new ways to combine and
interpret visual information could be largely related to the ability to fit
better in a given environment and thus it is worth analyzing creativity in an
Once anticipation and visual creativity have been
linked in evolutionary perspective, it is interesting to analyze how GA could
provide a framework for modelling anticipatory creative behaviour in visual
A general theoretical GA framework exists , ,
, , and within this framework
numerous examples of creative evolutionary systems have been developed ,
, . As the human creative process is still largely unknown, the
computational modelling of creativity is still open to investigation.
The present research explores anticipatory aspects
that creative processes seem to incorporate in order to transfer such behaviour
in artificial creative systems that emulate anticipatory attributes in the
Different researchers have previously experimented
from evolutionary perspective with various aspects involved in creative
behaviours. Creativity as open-ended evolution has been previously analyzed by
Taylor . Soddu  describes generative design as a form of evolutionary
process producing sequences of solutions that are different from each other,
but having recognizable features to define them as part of a given design
species. Starting from curiosity as a motivational factor in creative behaviour,
Saunders  developed a model of curiosity in design capable to produce
genetic artworks and evaluate the novelty of their output. We briefly try to
analyze how Soddu and Saunders are different in their approach to creativity.
The main aspect in Soddu’s approach is that evolution
is creative in the sense that it generates new entities from existing ones in a
process that builds variety within the unity of a species gradually leading to
changes in the species itself. As a result, a design idea once encoded can
provide the artificial DNA from where new entities can be developed in the same
way in which in natural systems evolution produces new individuals that express
variety within the framework of an existing species. This is different from Saunders’ approach, which is rooted in the
analysis of human creative process at individual and social level. GA provide
the computational framework for modelling curiosity in the creative process. It
is interesting to observe that both approaches are based on homologies between
biological and artificial structures. Soddu is inspired by the natural
evolution process itself, while Saunders looks at the human creative process
and attempts to build a model of this process using the GA computational
The present research aims to combine the two
approaches. It builds from the adaptive character of anticipatory behaviour,
which has been analyzed above, and attempts to exploit evolutionary abilities
inherent to natural systems to produce novel and useful new behaviours in a
computational system that models human creativity in visual arts.
This paper offers a brief study of relationships
between anticipation and creativity in visual arts. The concept of anticipation
is approached in relation to adaptive survival mechanisms and analyzes how this
brings creativity in evolutionary perspective. The proposed approach is then
situated in the context of previous evolutionary approaches to modelling the
creative process and specific directions of research are outlined for modelling
anticipatory creative systems in visual arts.
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