Greg – Day 8

Greg – Day 8 150 150 Culturistan

Is authenticity an inherent human quality? Does any other thing in nature concern itself with being authentic? The concept of authenticity then seems to be solely a human intellectual concept of more concern today because we now have to quantify who we are and what we do in relation to computers and machines.

We started our discussion with a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke titled “Growing Blind”. The poem’s narrator faces a misjudgment of a seemingly shy and meek woman who was actually a singer preparing for a performance:

“Restrained, like one who must be calm and cool
Because she soon will sing before a crowd;
Upon her happy eyes, without a cloud
The light fell from outside, as on a pool.

“She followed slowly, hesitating, shy,
As if some height or bridge must still be passed,
And yet – as if, when that was done, at last
She would no longer walk her way, but fly.”

An authentic artist must first face their own vulnerability before ever presenting it to an audience. How do we program vulnerability, insecurity, and doubt into an algorithm, as these are inherent qualities of the artistic process? In the larger context of how this poem relates to why we’re here, the title “Growing Blind” then becomes a warning of what we may be doing as humans in relation to A.I. and art.

The next five readings of the day were about A.I. creating paintings in the style of Rembrandt; an A.I. program that signed it’s “art” Algorithm. The fact that we spend millions of dollars to create these programs to recreate something that humans had already created hundreds of years and then discuss its authenticity is where I get lost.

The article titled “Inside ‘The Next Rembrandt’: How JWT Got a Computer to Paint Like the Old Master” by Tim Nudd talks about a computer that painted a new Rembrandt painting. The whole thing just seems absurd. Imagine those millions and millions of dollars used to create a “new Rembrandt” going to art programs for young artists instead of an algorithm to create one work of “art”.  I think humans have shown without question that we got the art thing covered!

After the unveiling of the portrait by JWT Amsterdams creative director Bas Korsten, some felt it was indistinguishable from a ‘real’ Rembrandt. But the end of the article seems to agree with the view of most artists, stating that one human, in particular, would find the whole thing a bit farcical:

“I think Rembrandt would laugh himself silly,” Korsten says, “if he saw there were a team of 20 people, really clever people, working for 18 months and this is what they come up with.” This from the creator of the program!

There you go.