Eathan Janney, Biology
Faculty Advisor: Ofer Tchernichovski
Project Website: LocateFlow

Here are two videos recently produced as part of this project. The first is an interview with Anthony Ptak; theraminist, artist, and educator. The second is an interview with another NML member, Samwell Freeman; physicist, programmer and artist. In each video, we explore the definition of creativity, discuss how to move past creative blocks and we perform a creative exercise.


locateflow is an online creative resource which draws on the knowledge and intuition of the collective online community as well as carefully chosen experts from disparate fields to elucidate the nature of creativity.

Discovering the nature of creativity:

locateflow has two major components. First, the project will utilize a specially-designed algorithm to analyze language usage on the net (such as in blogs and social networking profiles) in order to illuminate society’s ever-changing concepts of creativity. Second, the project will incorporate opinions and suggestions from creative masters across disciplines, whether they are scientists or artists, through personal video interviews. The overall goal is to build a trusted, reliable source for inspiration.

Two major questions lie at the core of this project.

What is creativity?

To help answer this question, I’m in the process of designing an online aggregator of personal blog and social network information ala ‘we feel fine’. Just as attempts to aggregate and collate the feelings of web users, I aggregate comments people make about what creativity is and how one might foster creativity. Ultimately, the idea is to comb the internet for full sentences that contain phrases such as “creativity is…” and summarize the aggregated results based on common themes.

What engenders creativity?

The toolkit of great creators contains many clandestine and esoteric tools. To understand these tools, and how they’re used, why not consult the master in his or her workshop with direct questions? A second goal of locateflow is to seek out these masters and get them speaking on the topic. This can manifest in many forms. I will conduct interviews with a diverse array of experts, and also arrange for individuals from different disciplines to interview one another. The hope is to uncover common themes in the quest for creative ideas and discover how tools from one discipline can be adapted to another.

Why I Chose This Project:

In my life, I’m active in many fields, but each requires creativity in its own way. To my colleagues at CUNY, I am seen as a student of neuroscience, a field in which creativity might mean designing elegant experiments and inventing novel theories. But much of my life has been dedicated to music, where creativity might signify making music that quenches the thirst for new ways of expressing and interpreting human emotions. In the realm of business, I am a piano technician. As an entrepreneur, creativity might mean organizing time and energy efficiently so as to be profitable and ensure customers are pleased. Confronted with such varied kinds of challenges it’s natural that I’ve become curious about the nature of my most familiar obstacle: how to be creative.

For several years now—especially when confronted with creative blocks—I have combed the internet and scoured books for morsels of information that would lead me to creative inspiration. Yes, I’ve discovered invaluable tricks, like Duke Ellington’s habit of composing one piece a day or Brian Eno’s oblique strategies cards. However, most information in print and on the internet provides creative inspiration for advertisers and business people, angles that ring hollow to me as an artist and even seem hackneyed to me as an entrepreneur. Even after extensive research, I’m still often unsure how to both define creativity and how to effectively encourage its occurrence. locateflow is meant to help fill this void for me and for others who may have similar feelings.