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Generative Art Is Not … Your Father’s Art Form.

Michelangelo's David

With more traditional art forms; sculpture, painting or film for example; an Artist uses tools to fashion materials into a finished work. This is clearly doing it the hard way. With generative art it is the autonomous system that does all the heavy lifting, the “artist” only provides the instructions to the system and the initial conditions.

The artist’s role in the production process may be closer to that of a curator than a creator. They will create their system, model it, nurture it, refine it, but ultimately their ownership of the work produced may be no more than a parent’s pride in the work of their offspring.

This is hideously unfair of course. We should not underestimate the human role in the collaboration. As well as the programming, the human brings one other important skill – aesthetic judgment. While it is perfectly feasible for computers to develop a sense of aesthetics (there has been plenty of work towards this aim within the field of evolutionary systems), it will never be the best division of labor in a human-machine creative partnership. If we need to calculate Pi to a million digits it would be a misappropriation of resources to set a human brain to this task. Similarly, it is probably best not to leave it to the machines to decide what’s pretty and what isn’t.




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