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Dr Tara O'Neil

Phenominal ba


Original creativity and innovation are elusive. Mental models, limited context and bias create roadblocks. Can Virtual Reality Time Portals expand the mind and provide access to better ideas?

Phenomenal ba looks at the current way we develop new thinking and starts with the often overlooked first step of getting unstuck. How can you look for new ideas if you brain refuses to move of the existing ones you hold tightly? Do people even know that these biases and mental models repel new thinking? Do you have access to creativity that can not be surfaced by just asking?

This project explored those questions by using the Town of Port Dalhousie Ontario as a case study. Residents were asked to consider possibilities for the future of their town by going to the future in 2050 via Virtual reality time portals. Awe, liminal experiences, experiential futures and most importantly creating ba are mechanisms for unlocking creative potential.

Four distinct aspects of creative thinking were analysed as part of the research design process, in order to help illuminate possibilities for breakthrough creativity in the future. First, this work looks at the state of the world today as wicked problems are becoming untenable due to the speed of acceleration because of exponential growth. Understanding why other creative problems fail because of human bias provided requirements for clearing and expanding our ability to connect and think beyond what is right in front of us. How we can stretch to create capacity lives in a space where wonder and awe are present. Knowing they are required is one matter, and creating that space is another. Experiential scenarios provide a springboard to help people cross into this space of mind-altering thinking. One must transcend to get there, take a leap of faith, draw back the curtain and explore ba. Virtual Reality allows participants to engage with the future in ways that no other method can, resulting in the embodiment of those futures. When this occurs, access to buried knowledge is released into the newly cleared and expanded space for thinking. The brain can fill with new connections and ideas and old problems can find new solutions.


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