The Chemistry of Creativity: Riding The Dopamine Wave

TDC Surfer

Surfer Dudette Riding the DS106 Dopamine Wave for TDC613

DailyCreateWebPicAlan Levine has been updated and tweaking the DS106 site quite a bit the last few weeks.  He’s been asking for people to test things out, trying some new formats.  You know… things like that.  Well yesterday’s DS106 Daily Create, TDC613, asked us to take a photo that represents the TDC idea of regular exercises of creativity.  It seems the current photo the site is using at the moment is getting stale.

I thought about this challenge throughout the day, but nothing was presenting itself to excite my creativity.  Then last night, at 10:30 pm, inspiration struck.  Man… I was planning on going to bed early…. but no…. my brain chemistry had now shifted into creative mode.


The chemistry of creativity – Dopamine on the brain

“Our brain chemistry is without doubt an unpredictable force and influence on our mood and, therefore, how creative we feel….Dopamine is the chemical that allows our brain to wonder and think-up new ideas (Flaherty, A.W* )…. It is known that dopamine gets trapped in tense muscles. Regular (and even gentle) exercise can help release this dopamine back in our body and brain.”  [Chemistry and Creativity]

SurferThat nice boost of dopamine inspired a repeat appearance of Surfer Dudette last seen surfing her way through my first stop motion video for tdc567.

The image I chose to create for tdc613 has quite a few layers, figuratively and literally.  Figuratively, you can tease out:

  • TDC SurferCreativity can be like riding a wave. You are focused, relaxed, alive, not really sure what’s coming next.
  • The DS106s could be seen as that wave of creativity that she is riding on.
  • She is sitting atop my old Nordic Track.  Real exercise helps to release dopamine trapped in your muscles back into your body.
  • The plant? Not sure… I placed it there as background to hide the fact I was taking the picture in my basement and wasn’t keen on having the furnace, ironing board, and dryer in the background.  Any suggestions on what it could represent?

As for the literal layers… I made the composite image in Photoshop Elements 11 for the Mac.  I keep on-hand a PNG image (They maintain transparency unlike a JPEG) of the DS106 logo downloaded from the website.  I made 3 copies and rotated them slightly so they would align with the bar of the Nordic Track.  By dialing down their opacity to 80% they looked more natural.  At one point I became disturbed that I hadn’t dusted and cleaned everything before taking the photo, but it actually looks quite appropriate with the cracked overlays of the DS106 images. Everything looks a bit worn and not used in awhile.  Maybe I should add another layer of interpretation – that it’s time to dust ourselves off and get our creativity moving again.

TDC Surfer_deletes

Deleted sections of image in white

To make the DS106s appear as if they were stickers attached to the bar, I used the magnetic select tool to select various parts of the exercise equipment.  I copied and pasted each into a new layer.  Leaving me with a base image that had blank spots.

The three new layers were then placed on top of the DS106s.  For some unknown reason the new image layers turned out to be slightly smaller than the space where they were selected and copied from.  This has never happened before.  So I had to slightly increase their size.  Weird….

I’m almost “quite pleased” with my final product. It seems a bit off center to me. That golden ratio thing not optimized or something.  I tried to crop it, but couldn’t get it to look right and keep the exercise equipment in the frame enough that you knew that’s what it was.  I’m hoping design week will help me work on things like that.

TDC Surfer


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