Machines and Creativity

Doc Searls wrote about AI and feeling – “Feeling is human” – and the lack of human creativity in the new technologies.

My mind immediately connected his post to David Hockney’s video “Photoshop is boring“, where the artist rambles on in his intelligent and humorous way about art, photography, imaging technology and where technology has brought us.

Hockney, of course, paints and draws. He says people don’t draw anymore, it’s all photography, and it all starts to look the same, stale and boring. “Magazines used to be full of drawings, now it’s all photographs”, he says. Photoshop and other technology helps us get to this boring state, faster all the time, and I expect AI is increasing this exponentially.

Hockney is also a photographer, indeed has for many years explored the edges of what photography can do. He approaches the act of photography in a painterly way, meaning he’s seeing more intensely than a lot of photographers are capable of. He was unsatisfied with the flatness of most photographs, flatness both in space and in time. The decisive moment, a flat image and a flat point in time.

Photographers break out of the boring state by being unhappy/unsatisfied with the single image most photographs consist of. Duane Michals broke out of the decisive moment, which he spoke of with scorn, by doing sequences. He also started writing and drawing on his photographs. The art world was shocked. His sequences are analogous to Hockney’s collage of photographic images, both of them multiple images expanding the photographer and the viewer’s passage through time and space.

—————————————————————————

This seems a bit trite, but I’m not trying to do much here except get some words out. I could make it less trite with a bit more work, most likely in additional posts. Hockney has long been a favorite, and his videos are relaxed disquisitions on art, observation, technology, a whole bunch of related activities, all coming from his uninhibited expression, his enjoyment of life and his constant, focused work. I recommend listening to Hockney (many short videos are online) if you want to have new thoughts about art, creativity and technology.

I like how writing a blog post slows me down and throttles back the usual over-stimulation the web produces in my brain. An exercise in exploration and focus. More of this would be helpful to me. Art, and I’m not claiming this is art except in the sense putting words together can produce aesthetic feelings and thoughts, is not so much in the viewing as in the doing.

—————————————————————————

Back to Hockney and AI – Hockney’s productive. Work work work, smoke smoke smoke, 86 years old and still blasting along. Would AI’s sped-up “productivity” create anything like what Hockney does every day, at his own steady pace? No way. The human’s out in front. AI’s trying and failing to catch up. Hockney doesn’t “make content”, he makes art, which he explains in the phrase, referring to an owl sculpture by Picasso “that’s not an owl, that’s an account of a human being looking at an owl”.

—————————————————————————

More later . . .

—————————————————————————

“We were just in the Picasso show, you know, and looking at that owl, that marvelous owl, and today I pointed out, some people just stuff a real owl and put it in a case. [makes a sour face] Not very interesting. I was explaining to my young friend, why Picassos are so marvelous is, it isn’t an owl, it’s a human being looking at an owl. It’s an account of a human being looking at an owl. That’s what thrills us, and there’s more owlness there than in the stuffed owl.”

Hockney talking
Hockney talking
Pearblossom Highway
Pearblossom Highway, David Hockney
Death Comes to the Old Lady, Duane Michals
Death Comes to the Old Lady, Duane Michals
The Decisive Moment, Indeed (Cartier-Bresson)
The Decisive Moment, Cartier-Bresson
Picasso's Owl
Picasso’s Owl