[eu-gene] There must be no generative, procedural or computational art
list at philipgalanter.com
Wed Jan 4 00:22:03 GMT 2012
On Jan 3, 2012, at 4:11 AM, alex wrote:
> Before we leave the semantics, lets look again at the definitions on
> "Generative art refers to any art practice where the artist creates a
> process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program,
> a machine, or other procedural invention, which is then set into
> motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a
> completed work of art." Philip Galanter
> To me this suggests separating the artist from the results, where the
> artwork is the output.
A few years later I tried to clear up a few misreadings. Unfortunately the "definition" really needs the broader theory discussion in the original paper to be fully understood. In a subsequent paper I offered this section to try to clear up some misconceptions. I've tacked that on the end here.
In any case what I meant by differentiating between "contributing to" and "resulting in" was that the generative system can make the art or the generative system itself can be the art. On the other hand short of folks like Stelarc I think the artist is almost always separate from the art in the way the above might seem to imply.
2. An Improved Definition
In the context of the full paper in which the related theory is introduced, the previously noted definition of generative art is fairly unambiguous. When standing alone, however, this definition has been misinterpreted and misunderstood. Again, what is important here isn’t a definition per se, but rather a theory of generative art. To that end the definition could stand some improvement.
The first confusion is that many who are already of a mind to consider generative art as a subset of computer art tend to interpret this definition in exactly that way. They may allow that algorithms can be executed manually or by machines other than digital computers, but they all too often ignore or disallow biological or chemical processes, self-organizing materials, or other physical processes as being alternatives for the creation of generative art.
A second confusion has to do with rules-based art. In a previous paper I’ve outlined a number of types of rules-based art noting that some are generative, but some are not.  For example, Josef Albers and Piero Manzoni created paintings within self-imposed constraint rules. Albers created color studies but only used concentric rectangles, and Manzoni created paintings that were all white. Ed Rusha created an art book of photography with a thematic constraint rule allowing only photos of small fires and milk. Richard Nauman and Richard Serra have created minimal performances by following rules in the form of instructions. On Kawara has created a series of boxed paintings consisting of that day’s date lettered in paint. The rule calls for making such a painting every day.
Each of these rules-based art works cannot be considered generative art because the artist never cedes control to an autonomous system. There is an in-principle dependence on the artist from moment to moment, and at no point does the artist lose control of the art making process. As these examples show, it is a mistake to use the phrases “rule-based art” and “generative art” interchangeably.
A third confusion involves the required use of an autonomous system for making generative art. Some complain that no mechanical system can be considered as being autonomous because such systems are wholly dependant on humans for their continuing operation. Others insist that autonomous systems require free will and consciousness, and that pulls this theory of generative art into debates about complicated and contentious philosophical matters.
In the context of this theory of generative art the notion of an autonomous system is simple and modest. It follows the use of terminology from robotics. Some robots are controlled moment by moment by a human operator at a console not unlike those used to control model cars or airplanes by radio. More sophisticated robots have sensors, GPS units, image processing computers, and other technologies which allow them to navigate and adapt to their environment without a human driver. Robots such as these are referred to as being “autonomous” without any implications or claims regarding free will or consciousness.
It is in this sense this theory uses the term “autonomous.” Generative art systems do not require moment-to-moment decision-making or control by the artist. These systems are autonomous relative to the artist.
In an attempt to avoid these theory-related misunderstandings the following improved definition of generative art is offered:
Generative art refers to any art practice where the artist cedes control to a system that operates with a degree of relative autonomy, and contributes to or results in a completed work of art. Systems may include natural language instructions, biological or chemical processes, computer programs, machines, self-organizing materials, mathematical operations, and other procedural inventions.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the eu-gene