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    The viewer doesn’t give a shit about that.

    Some viewers may not. For others, the story of how the work of art came about is what matters. The artwork is just the final chapter of the story, not interesting in itself.

    So you may as well argue that most regular art is hurt by a lack of intellectualism.

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      So you may as well argue that most regular art is hurt by a lack of intellectualism.

      Are you arguing this? Because there’s a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

      Just for example, here’s a random pick from the NY Review website:


      (link slightly NSFW, image of two nude torsos)

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        No, my point is that someone ‘intellectually inclined’ could argue that in a way consistent with the author’s argument, which I then expect the author, like you, to disagree with. So the argument seems internally inconsistent to me.

        So to explicate: if the author feels this artform is hurt by too much intellectualism (apperently at the cost of inspiration, because the main complaint in the article pertains the lack thereof; the article may as well have been titled ‘lack of inspiration hurts generative art’) then the ratio of intellectualism to inspiration must be lower than it is for other artforms. But if one appreciates the intellectual component, that means they would probably think the other artforms would be short on intellectualism and they could argue that contrapositive with the same argument.

        What I think is that intellectualism and inspiration aren’t mutually exclusive and that the author is arguing ‘replacement’ of inspiration by intellectualism to not have to come out and openly say ‘generative artists lack inspiration’.

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      Generative artwork has been dominated by the intelligent and the intellectual. It has been obsessed with the discovery of clever algorithms and optimizations.

      I think the author should provide evidence of his premise. I can’t think of any generative art where the method was emphasized more than the outcome. Maybe my experience is an exception to the rule.

      Secondly, I’m not sure that the method doesn’t matter. He makes some very broad generalizations about the audience: “the viewer doesn’t give a shit if Rothko ground his own pigment by hand.” I don’t know how many viewers tend to care about that detail of Rothko’s work in particular. But I think many viewers do care about the methods used to produce Sol Lewitt’s Instruction-based art. And those works, which are essentially algorithms manually executed by assistants, are a much closer analogue to generative art produced with a computer. It is banal to point out that people, both artists and audience, are different and will find meaning in different things. Some people find the method meaningful. Others don’t. This should be something we all already understand.

      In general, this piece lacks nuance and fails to meet a basic standard for critical thinking.

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        I can’t think of any generative art where the method was emphasized more than the outcome.

        Algorithmic symphonies from one line of code and Some deep analysis of one-line music programs.

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          What’s completely missing from the article is that inspiration often comes through process and as a product of the repeated, practiced application of process.

          Agnes Martin’s work is a great example, it’s dense and obsessive and preternaturally powerful, she spent years and years doing it over and over, her work got denser and more powerful the more she did it and as far as I can tell the inspiration happened in tandem(/symbiosis) with or as a function of her relentless work on it. Sure there can be an inspiration to make a great work but without the skill and the process required to realise it the great work doesn’t happen.

          Rothko’s process was fundamental, and because we don’t have any Rothko work to which he didn’t apply his process, we have no way of knowing whether art he produced without doing so would have been able to produce the extraordinarily deep and emotionally rich work he produced with it. I’m no expert but I’m guessing no, the reason the work is so strong is not only the process nor only the inspiration but a combination of the two, honed and enriched by years of practice, until the process and the inspiration are completely intertwined and function as one. Which is why his work was so extraordinary and why he was such an extraordinary talent. And why it probably makes a great deal of difference to the viewer that he ground his own pigment, even if they’re not aware of it, because that was necessary to achieve the inspired effect he was aiming for.

          And - here’s the point - all of this is why it’s so incredibly rare to get genuinely good, meaningful generative art, because the mix of sufficient technical skill with sufficient artistic inspiration is so damn rare, and (in my view at least) a majority of it is people who are good at math or geometry or OpenGL and fancy themselves as artists, but are far from that, because they either haven’t got the natural inspiration as a starting-point or they haven’t spent long enough developing it yet.

          So yes, of course an overly intellectual focus will likely produce a less emotionally connecting or inspired piece of work - but pure emotion or inspiration without technical capability, at least in something as fundamentally technically complex as generative art, will likely produce works that just aren’t very good. Arguing it should be more of one aspect than the other seems to me to be missing the point.

          (Post written on the bus in a moment of inspiration subsequently edited on the desktop for technical correctness and, uh, coherence)

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          Howdy - recovering generative artist here [0]

          Everything the artist says in this essay is correct. The lost connection between creator and observer hurts generative art. The art community is interested in emotional expression and connecting with the purpose of invoking something new and interesting. I wrote a long treatise about this some years back, attempting to coin the term Artificial Expression [1] (which is partially obsolete with the advent of deep learning but the overall point still stands).

          Sometimes I wish it weren’t true. Sometimes I wished that technically beautiful stuff was appreciated by everyone without that pesky emotional connection, but it’s not. The same goes for technically proficient photo-realistic artwork. People say “That’s cool” and then move on to something they can actually bond with on another level.

          But that’s important! It’s important because we’re humans and we suffer from the human condition. So the things that take us out of that plane and let us engulf ourselves in pure emotion is the best kind of art. We’re made a certain way genetically, culturally, and socially - and that’s the good stuff right there. Finding this for yourself as an artist is the most important thing. Once you get out of the rut of trite technicality and see the world for what it is, you’ll be better for it.

          [0] Shameless plug for some of my stuff- http://binarymax.com/tree.html , http://binarymax.com/randriaan.html , https://max.io/jewels24.html , http://binarymax.com/backgammon/

          [1] https://max.io/articles/theories-on-artificial-expression/

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            So the things that take us out of that plane and let us engulf ourselves in pure emotion is the best kind of art. We’re made a certain way genetically, culturally, and socially - and that’s the good stuff right there.

            Do you have any data to support sweeping generalizations like this? How can this theory explain things like Gothic architecture that were created over decades by groups of craftsmen who were focused on mastering and practicing technique? Many of the stone masons did not know what emotional impact their work would elicit. Isn’t it more likely that “people say ‘That’s cool’ and then move on” when what you’re showing them is only that interesting?

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              I do not have access to a formal study that definitively defines captivating art. The accepted definition of art is communication of expression from a creator to an observer. I will take the opportunity to focus on your use of the term ‘craftsmen’. Craft is not art. Technically proficient craft is absolutely admired for what it is, but the lack of emotional connection or purposeful expression to forge that connection is why it differs from art.

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                @binarymax, FYI, randriaan doesn’t seem to work in Firefox 63.0a1 (2018-07-09) (64-bit) on Windows.

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                  Hey thanks for the heads up - but I don’t have a Windows box so can’t debug. It works fine on my Firefox 61.0.1 (64-bit) in MacOS. Do you see any kind of error/warning in the console?

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                    Oh, it works if I click the link and open it in this tab. If I ctrl+click or third-button click to open it in a new tab, it doesn’t work, but then it does work when I ctrl+F5 to hard-refresh it.

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              I think what really hurts generative art is obscurity.

              I was vaguely aware that this genre was “a thing” but I’ve never seen an exhibit advertised in my home town (Stockholm).