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“Tomonami,” a new system that supports creativity acceleration

The collaboration between Sony CSL and the ceramic artist Yukio Yoshita brought to an exhibition of works in Tokyo at the Kinzan Kiln Gallery Space “Mutan”.

The Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) has developed “Tomonami,” a new system that supports creativity acceleration. Tomonami was conceived by researcher Alexis André from his work on creativity acceleration, and is available in forms that are created for individual artists.
An exhibition of works created in collaboration with ceramic artist Yukio Yoshita has been held in Tokyo to show the first results yielded using Tomonami.

The first creations of art using Tomonami begin with researcher Alexis André (Researcher at Sony CSL and currently based at Sony CSL – Paris) tapping his own experience as an artist while gaining an understanding of creativity through dialog with an artist. Characteristic features of an artist’s expression are uniquely extracted from the artist’s past work, and then reflected in the form of parameters in the user interface of originally developed software, to provide a space for the artist to explore their creativity.

The artist explores this space by manipulating the parameters. The artist can use Tomonami to generate ideas in a short period of time (creating choices autonomously), and then use the artist’s own artistic sensibilities and taste to evaluate them and determine whether or not to adopt them. This acceleration of the trial-and-error cycle of the creative process is the core of Tomonami, and leads to new creations that the artists themselves could not have imagined.

Yukio Yoshita provided advice to Alexis André based on his own creative activities, and has given his support from Tomonami’s conceptual phase through its development. A collection of works that Yoshita created using Tomonami will be displayed at the exhibition.

The name “Tomonami” combines the Japanese words “tomo” (friend) and “nami” (wave) and includes co-creation in its meaning. It expresses the artist using the technology and Alexis André understanding each other in close proximity like friends, thereby charting a new future where research and art combine to form a wave.

Remarks by Yukio Yoshita
“Even though my own creative process became more complicated and production took a huge amount of time, the two years of trial and error that I shared with the people at Sony CSL were like a thrilling return to my childhood days. At the same time, this valuable experience also gave me a strong sense that we are standing on the verge of a new relationship between technology and traditional handicrafts. In addition, the long hours of discussions in a language unfamiliar to me were, aside from the research objectives, actually very meaningful toward clarifying my own pottery making process, and I’d like to express my gratitude for that. I’d also like to once again show respect for Alexis André, who never said “No,” and let me have my way as he gracefully manipulated his computer beside me, as well as everyone at Sony CSL who provided me with this stimulating opportunity.”

Remarks by Alexis André
“Tomonami was born out of the desire to open up new visions by accelerating the creativity of artists. What makes traditional crafts great is, of course, the fact that artists have inherited them over many years while enjoying the support of the techniques that have been cultivated along the way, but also the fact that all the while, the creativity of these artists is tested. I am so happy that Mr. Yoshita, the fourth-generation delegate of Kinzangama, a leading Kutani ware kiln, shared my passion and studied this system with me. I hope that these activities will be the beginning of ongoing research with artists into the questions of what creativity is, and where the value in art lies.”

More info on Sony CSL website.

The picture shows the Tomonami operating screen on the left and a piece created using Tomonami, on the right.