Sunday, May 29, 2005

What is Art?

I started down a path to determine what the state of the art is with regards to computer generation of art. And while I found much material on the subject the real message the research brought home is the extent to which art is an inherently human experience.

There is something nearly magical that seems to occur in the human neo cortex and tied to our emotions that fuels both aesthetic appreciation and creativity. All computer art today goes through human guided transformational stages, similar to physically oriented art, only the tools are much different. Many of the tools are mathematical functions that fuzzify, change tone and brightness, fractalize, etc. All methods start with an image and go from there. Even using genetic algorithms to more rapidly produce combinatorial art relies upon human fitness scoring (the aesthetic function). The more abstract pieces will generate initial random patterns and colors, while less abstract methods start with a digital photo.

What has the computer brought to art? It has opened the horizons of possibility. There are more tools and techniques at the artist's disposal than ever before. The world of art is broadening to accept this new medium and new techniques. Art may become more dynamic using a collage of images temporally spaced (slideshow) or evolving over time. The great part is that art is made more accessible to more people allowing wider expression of our being and touching that which makes us human.

Is art out of reach of the computer? I don't think so and perhaps the meaning of art will be different to a computer possessing intelligence. Art purely generated by a computer just seems soul-less to me. Until computers can experience, can feel, can make intuitive leaps on a near human basis, the art will feel empty. I think this is because part of the aesthetic appreciation of art is experiencing empathy for the artist. Because while art is created by transforming one image to another, art is also transformational to the artist and projects this transformation onto its audience.

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