AI is pretty cool, but can it art?

In the Liminality, Art creates many doors between, hallways through, stairs connecting great heights with incredible lows and pools of doubt. Art can move us from the Liminality to places of (temporarily) solid ground. Or art can strip away our comforts and shove us into new realms made only of Questions.

Questions like: What is Art?

AI interpretation of “My wife is beautiful”

Oxford:
1.
the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Wikipedia, using language from Lumen Learning “Art is a highly diverse range of human activities engaged in creating visual, auditory, or performed artifacts— artworks—that express the author’s imaginative or technical skill, and are intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.”

Lumen Continues: “Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities. Though the definition of what constitutes art is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions center on the idea of imaginative or technical skill stemming from human agency and creation.”

(Emphasis added to illustrate the repeated use of human.)

Webster’s does not specify human, although distinctly human qualities and intention are:

Webster’s Dictionary: “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.”

So what about these magnificent AI generated… creations(?) I have been playing with on sites like the Night Cafe?

Bert and Ernie sacrifice cookie monster, summoning great Cthulhu.

What’s happening with these? I am providing parameters in the form of written words (in the case above I added a few terms like acrylic, colorful and art deco). The AI is then running keywords through equations that select the various elements that become the piece. The elements – shapes, colors, textures, etc. – were selected by a human programmer who then went on to tell the algorithm what to do with those elements.

The AI has no imagination, no creativity, and no agency. So we can say definitively that the images above are not art.

Right?

Not so fast. Human creativity came up with the code, the logic that Is the AI. Humans”taught” it how to render various terms like “colorful,” “art deco,” “abstract,” etc. And I (human) used my agency to decide what words to combine. In a sense, we have loaned our imagination, creativity, agency and skill to the AI. A (probably large) group of people have all collaborated to make this machine processed art synthesis.

abstract colourful scary woman monster’s portrait with still life in foreground acrylic art

Night Cafe says I am the “creator.” It does not call me “artist” but the site does identify these works as neural network generated artwork and “text-to-image artworks that users have made with NightCafe Creator.” So what’s artwork what does it mean generate? What the hell is a neural network??!!

A person could follow this rabbit hole a very long way; analysing not just the semantics, the history and futures of neural network creation, they could even end up in the totally non-human territory of elephants painting self-portrait. There’s not likely to be a definitive answer, no firm groun upon which even a majority of people will confidently declare these works as “art” or “not art.”

Instead we find ourselves drifting further out into the Liminality. From here I can see collaboration, expression, innovation and synthesis. I don’t know if that makes these things art or not, but out here those things certainly do seem to look beautiful.

“Gregor the formless, watcher of the Dataplex, is trapped between awesome light beauty and dark awful allure, walking the cosmic razor wire between the two warring sides of existence.”

Thinking about what constitutes Art, this is how I feel. The definitions all emphasize words like “imagination,” “creativity,” “agency,” – qualities attached to “human.” What are these creations if not art? Without a skilled hand guiding each brush stroke, what is it that makes these pictures beautiful? Hell, what, for that matter is human if not the ability to combine images and ideas we’ve been taught and synthesize something relatively new?

A: It’s the blurring of lines, the testing of borders, the rattling of our status quo shells, that makes of us both human and art

Invitation:

Join us for MEMETIC HAZARD’s Open Spike Night!

“Amid Pervasive Surveillance and social media, it is poetry that can help us navigate our technologically-led-society” says a University of Melbourne expert.

General Instructions (Suggestions really)

Bizarre poems, poetic philosophical treatises, florid social commentary are to be written and broken into pieces, randomly, and spread throughout social media and other Internet forum’s, all with the exact 3 tags. That will throw The Watchers and AI alike for a loop. At least for a while. While they are busy deciphering our latest memetic play, we are long gone into the next one, or out of the Matrix completely.

::Key Tags: #CypherMemes, #MetaPoem or #Poetry5D

How It Works:

First, Agents are given a theme. The dedicated team, we’ll call them Verseions (IDK) each exchange poems and read/familiarize themselves with the works of the other. Now, each poem has an existence in other people’s heads. Agents then draw one of the poems, randomly and decide how best to fragment it. (Fragmentation can be difficult for the original author to obfuscate his intent.)  Sentences can absolutely be broken, but NO rearranging words; that’s just uncool.

Distribution:

: Fragments in hand, it’s time to hide our treasure. (Don’t get too obscure.) We want random members of the public to see them and go WTF??? So, comments sections are great, public forum’s. Make an Instagram post with some unrelated (or related) art. Put it on your personal blog. Whatever. It’s fine if the tags don’t pull up in one search: Facebook’s will not.) The most important thing here is the keywords or tags. They must be included to link them to the collective whole. To be nice, I recommend putting a clue as to where the previous and next fragment is located. The game is supposed to be one, theoretically after all. But what are you going to do? It’s Erisian Poetry.

What have we done?

We have now crafted a single Meta-Poem/CypherMeme in 5 Dimensions. Count: The 2 D that the original poem appears on, the 3 D, of the participant’s heads, 4D through it’s meter and through the (miniscule but calculated) adjustment in relativity  as your signal travels to a satellite and back, and 5D – the undefined “realm” of digital existence itself.  (Is my email to my co-worker’s computer in his office above mine if the server is in the basement and everything is routed through the corporate office in Toledo first?)

Example of Play

After the group reading, I end up with Walt’s poem. As the poem has nine lines, (the real one has many more FYI)  I decide to break it down into lines 1-4, 5-7, then 8-9. I post lines 1-4 in a FB group known for TG23. I use the tags, plus a few TG23 tags. Then “#CypherMeme in 3 parts: Oh Captain, my captain.” Then a clue. “My Bird account, 3rd message today.” There, I leave my fragment and put “Comment on Elon (date/time of tweet) with me”  Then they get to go through all the comments of Elon’s las tweet to find your 3rd excerpt. Mwahaha…  You’re welcome to embed the fragment’s in your own websites or blogs as well.

Say they get bored or think they’re clever and search the hashtag. Suddenly they’ve got “O Captain My Captain, Rubber Ducky You’re the, Jabberwocky ona road less traveled.” Sanity loss!! Instant devotee:

Prizes:

If, by a miracle, some non agent manages to collect all fragments, or even all fragments to a single, identifiable poem, the win a big secret. Maybe they earn a book or a gift card too. Maybe even A BRAND NEW CAR!!! Look under your seat. And your seat…. Okay, no brand new car (unless someone wants to donate, lol.

REMEMBER

we don’t want them searching by the hashtag, but if they do, it should baffle them. We know that the AI’s and their human servants search by tag, and that’s whose time we want to waste. It would be even better if your poems contained obscure allusions, riddles, or even formed pictures out of the words.

Consider this training, agent. We must all learn to think in metaphor, allegory and code. Poetry is the perfect vessel for that.

If you have any questions or suggestions, DM Me on Twitter @CosmicHorror77, Facebook at N Metcalf, or my WordPress: CosmicallyLiminal.org