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Is Computer-Created Art, Art? 441

eobanb writes "While playing with an interesting site called TypoGenerator I became compelled to write an article about how much of TypoGenerator's intriguing and seemingly original creations were actually art. Inevitably, it comes down to humans really being the origin of what TypoGenerator makes. Is such a unwitting collaboration between myself, Google (which TypoGenerator uses to create the images), and the programmers of TypoGenerator, art? Is true computer-created material possible, and if it is, is IT art? Does anyone know of other candidates for computer-created art?"
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Is Computer-Created Art, Art?

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  • AARON (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eliasen ( 566529 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:31AM (#11570583) Homepage
    There's AARON [], which paints interesting pictures.
  • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:33AM (#11570588)
    Congratulations, you just took a question (what is art) that has been debated and unresolved for millenium and thrust it on slashdot. I predict this to be more pointless than another triplicate article. Let's just leave it as art is subjective, ok?
    • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:39AM (#11570611)
      Not pointless at all, no. He won't get a meaningful answer out of this mess, but he got to advertise his little article on Slashdot for free.
    • And another congratulations, submitter, for your senseless butchering of the poor comma.

      Comma usage [].
    • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrjb ( 547783 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:32AM (#11570944)
      It's not the computer that came up with the program to generate these images, but the programmer. At the risk of going too philosophical, the purpose of creating art is for it to be seen. Unlike the programmer who created the image generator program, the computer has no feeling of purpose to what it calculated. Over here, the artist is clearly the programmer. In light cooperation, possibly, with the person typing 'Apple-X'.
    • by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:28AM (#11572256)
      If an artist is nothing more than the means by which information is transformed into a new medium (thought->paper, emotion->sound, random data->JPG) then why should anyone or anything be rewarded for what is essentially performing the function of a tool?

      Why should the work of Michaelangelo be "Priceless", yet the sketchings of an NYC street artist fixed at $15? Surely the provenance is different, but beyond the origins there should be no discernable difference in importance.

      So then why should we pay "Artists" for producing their art? If the expression "Writers Write. Painters Paint. Singers Sing" holds true, then these tools are simply performing their function and thus shouldn't be singled out for deserving praise or reward above any other.

      So what if a particular tool is adept at producing a result you find either pleasing or revolting? Is your subjective taste, or the taste of a majority, enough to qualify Art as Art? If I am the only person who sees the beauty in an object, am I all the more rich for holding a truly unique perspective? Is my perspective then, itself an art?
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NetNifty ( 796376 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:33AM (#11570589) Homepage
    Well, if an unmade bed [] and a pile of oranges (can't find link, but someone dumped a pile of oranges somewhere in London and said it was art) are art, then I'd say this is art too.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Informative)

      by LazySlacker ( 212444 )
      I think you mean bananas. stm []
    • I'm of the ones who would argue that Emin's My Bed is Art, while somebody playing for 30 seconds with an image generator, is not.

      Don't know about the bananas, but My Bed is square in the realm of objects which are created with mundane means, but whose arrangement evokes an emotional response because of their meaning and what they communicate of the artist's soul. Yep, Art.
      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:47AM (#11570816) Journal
        True, Emin's bed is one form of art - I call it 'celeb art' but then if I got paid to do that kinda stuff I'd be happy to do it.

        With celeb art (like beds and piles of bananas), you can get away with anything provided that there's someone so smitten with you that they will fund your folly so you receive enough income that you can afford the time and tools to do things that others would not aspire to because:

        1) they are a waste of time
        2) they cannot afford the raw materials
        3) they do not have the workspace
        4) they are unlikely to be taken seriously

        By my definition, art should include a degree of artistic talent to create a work that has uniqueness in its design or inception - making a messy bed is on the fringes of this because no talent has gone into making the bed, the 'talent' is in finding someone gullible enough to consider it art and the uniqueness is that no one has got away with it before.

        Try this test:

        Would someone show the fictitious work 'Pile of newspapers with hammer' by Tracy Emin - probably.
        Would someone show 'Pile of newspapers with hammer' by Ann Nonymous - less likely.

        At the end of the day it's not the quality of that type of art that demands it be viewed but simply the creator's name and once the creator has had a few works exhibited the 'establishment' goes into 'Emperor's new clothes' mode where no one holding the purse strings even thinks to question the merit in the work.
        • I remember when the Saatchi fire [] happened, and with all the damaged caused... I wondered if the firefighters had put out the fire, walked around to inspect the mess and for one of them to say "But is it art?". That thought makes me chuckle everytime.

    • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:25AM (#11570750)
      Roland Dorgeles was an eccentric Frenchman and arch nemesis of the Cubists. To poke fun at them he tied a paint-brush to a donkey's tail, placed a canvas with pots of paint behind it. The donkey faithfully conjured up an abstract painting. The work was then exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. The funny bit is that both the the public and the critics who commented on the painting did not seem to value it any less than the work of Van Dongen, Matisse and Roualt, who all exhibited at the same Salon. The matter caused a small scandal when it was leaked to the press.
      I once had a similar experience myself when I went to an art exhibition where an artist had bolted several multicolored urinals to a wall, no frills just standard issue urinals fromt he hardware store bolted to a wall, that's it. No paint no sculpting just urinals on a wall. The thing had a six figure price tag and a 'SOLD" sign on it. I drew the conclusion that art is what people say it is and if people think splashes from a donkeys tail and porcelain urinals bolted to a wall is art then well it is art.
      • This reminds me about a quote from a finnish magazine article about modern art:

        "One places stones into a circle and another pays a million for it. Genius sells and moron buys."

        The story about the Emperor's new clothes also comes to mind. No one dared to say that a bunch of urinals are not (good) art, for fear of appearing uncivilized.

      • That is the stuff which my dad meant when he said "sometimes the only real art in the work of an artist was to make people think that what he made was art". :-)
    • Those who think "found objects" like unmade beds and urinals are a disgrace to the word "art" should check out the Stuckists. []

      From one of their manifestos: [] "Declaring a dead horse hung from the ceiling of a gallery not to be art is not racism or hatred of dead horses. It is a value judgement, and here on earth value judgements are of value."
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:36AM (#11570597) Journal

    ...TypoGenerator's programmers created the brushes and the canvas, Google creates the paint, and you are still the artist that bring those tools together. a completely new and awsome way, however, but as long as you're thinking along those lines, that seems to make more sense to me. Thoughts?
    • by danamania ( 540950 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:00AM (#11570682)
      I look at it this way, from the submission:

      Inevitably, it comes down to humans really being the origin of what TypoGenerator makes.

      More so than this, it comes down to humans being the interpreters of what TypoGenerator makes.

      Throw a dozen disparate objects on the floor, and we as humans will be able to interpret a meaning from their positions. We might know it's a random occurence, but we might also laugh at the 'meaning' behind a plush tux doll ending up sitting on top of an XP box, for example.

      It looks like art partly because it's humans looking at it, and interpreting it. It might be art if it weren't created by humans and humans are looking at it, and it might not be art if humans created it but there are none left to gaze upon it.
  • by jemnery ( 562697 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:36AM (#11570598)
    " just type some text or see the help if you dont know what to do here..."

    There you go, don't say I never do anything for you guys.
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:36AM (#11570600) Homepage Journal
    ... that art is in the eye of the observer.

    If you think it is art, then it is art.

    Do not expect me to share your deviant artistic tastes though.
    • art is in the eye of the observer

      That's why photography can be art.

      And here is a nice piece of unintentional computer-generated art: I call it bugart [].
    • Your close, but not quite there. These days, art is in the intentions of the creator. That was the great revelation of Duchamp's found objects (bike wheel, urinal , etc). True, you will stand up better in public/critical scrutiny if you have the skills and (more importantly) a well thought out idea behind your art. But pretty much, if you can defend it as such, it's art.
  • by dabigpaybackski ( 772131 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:37AM (#11570601) Homepage
    In some instances, yes, but certainly not those Christmas "songs" composed by that computer at MIT.

    My ears are still ringing from that.

  • Do people still ask these sorts of question? Well, maybe the very young or the unlearned do.

    See Duchamp, his urinal, etc etc. Honestly, almost 100 years after these questions were comprehensively answered, and in the age where the internet can effortlessly point you to the text of all the answers....really.
    • People still asks these questions because there isn't a good consensus about what, exactly is art.

      Now, there may be a consensus amongst art critics, but that is something else. Lots of people shown Duchamp's would not consider it art. I've seen some of it, and I'm not sure I consider it art (although I'm more inclined to think it is if he turned out to have made the supposedly found objects himself).

      In areas like science it doesn't matter what people in general believe, you can usually prove something.

      • People still asks these questions because there isn't a good consensus about what, exactly is art.

        yes but the grandparent's point was that "is it art?" is just no longer an interesting question. Just because we haven't conclusively answered it does not mean we need to keep asking the question. Who really cares? If you're the artist, and you can get some museum to put it up, does it really matter if some slashdotter (or some critic in ArtForum for that matter) thinks it's truly "art"? Isn't it more inter

      • I think that the question "what is art?" has been given a conclusive answer, it's just that

        1) People don't really get any decent (if any at all) art history education in grade/high school. With only cursory ed at University unless you pursue it on your own.

        2) The art world can at many times actively strive to keep the 'pleebs' out. Galleries do this in order to raise the perceived value of any give piece of art in order to make more money. Ah, art and capitalism.

    • Ah yes, the urinal. The Dadaists weren't happy with their performances unless they culminated in scenes of bedlam. But that was a more cultured era, when, rather perversely, the average European found something in art worth rioting about.

      The funny thing about Duchamp was that he possessed such surpassing skill--he could paint or sculpt basically anything, any way he wanted, and yet he chose to pull stunts like the urinal, just to see what kind of reaction he would get, which made the whole process of pre

  • by ites ( 600337 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:38AM (#11570605) Journal
    Stupid non-question.

    This post is art. A computer created it, every pixel lovingly placed at exactly the right point on your screen.

    Presumably someone programmed the computer that "made" the art.

    Computers are just tools. When you programme a tool you're not doing anything fundamentally different from lifting your arm. "But does your arm have blinking lights?" Sigh.
  • Art is about expression. Just because you can hold a pencil or a brush doesn't make you an artist. Any monkey can do that ...

    But if you can create something that has meaning - even if that meaning is not immediately obvious) -, or that grabs the audience's attention (and you intended doing that), you create art.

    Now this is not necessarily the only definition of art, but I believe it is the most useful one. But by this definition, art can only be produced by a human (or a very advanced AI, one that we con
    • But if you can create something that has meaning - even if that meaning is not immediately obvious) -, or that grabs the audience's attention (and you intended doing that), you create art.

      Well, your monkey with a brush may grab an audience's attention as well. I don't see how the intention matters. Even some stuff that wasn't created with the intention of capturing an audience, instill meaning, or even just be art, is still considered art.

      If you think something's art, it is. That's as good a definit

    • But if you can create something that has meaning - even if that meaning is not immediately obvious) -, or that grabs the audience's attention (and you intended doing that), you create art.

      That would seem to include a baby wailing to me :-P

      Has meaning?
      Yes. The meaning is "I'm unhappy", obviously.
      Grabs audience attention
      Yes. Hard to ignore
      You bet!

      Offhand, a siren (not the seamen luress) an exploding bomb and fireworks all would fall into this definition

      An illustration of a flower, e.g

      • In intention, I would say that the author has the intention of creating art. In this case the bay does not have the intention. I strongly believe that art is about intention, off course as a "uncle post" show us, this is debatable.

        In my definition, art needs an artist and an artist is the person who creates stuff that he believes it is art. Art is something that someone made with the intention of being observed, experienced and judged by others, wheather it has some meaning or not.

        Is this post art? I woul

      • That would seem to include a baby wailing to me :-P

        That's actually the example somebody used to define art in a talk I saw once. He defined an artist as somebody who wants to change the world, and has the means to do so. So that's what the baby does: to get fed (change the world), it screams (use his/her means of communication). So the baby's an artist - why not?

        As my "brother post" points out, intention is very important here. Otherwise you would of course be right, that almost anything (including a

  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:41AM (#11570615)
    If the music created by the likes of Brian Eno using procedural techniques counts as art (and I'd certainly suggest it does), I fail to see why other programmers generating visual art by procedural techniques wouldn't.

    This also reminds me of the early days of computer animation, before the likes of Pixar made it abundantly clear that computers are just Tools to be used by artists like any other, and not somehow magically creating the art themselves.

    You might as well argue that Shakespeare wasn't an artist, because he just wrote the instructions to control the actors, and didn't perform the plays himself.
  • by ooze ( 307871 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:42AM (#11570620)
    Of course there are a lot of crap/unoriginal games. But just when you think of it, what kinds and ways of expression you have available in computer games, you will be overwhelmed. Merely thinking about once being able to master it all will make you a whimping heap of desolation...and even make you more willing to learn it all.
    In a computer game you can do anything a writer can do, you can do everything a movie maker can do, you can o everything a composer can do. In a way you can do anything any painter or sculptor can do. And you can do so much more that nooe else can do. Like creating interactions between people scattered all over the world, making them all to contribute to it, interpretating your piece of art.

    It just hurts to see where this is headed though. To become a dull, dumbing vehicle to exploit those artists and to make publishers rich. But well, we live in a world of humans, so this is just the normal development.
  • How about poetry?
    The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed [] is a book that was "written" by an artificial intelligence program back in 1984. Supposedly the selections were not tweaked by humans but were certainly were selected by humans - this book of prose poetry was created by a program called "Racter". You can read Racter's work online. []
    The software for Racter was available for various 8 bit computers. A DOS version can be downloaded from the Home of the Underdogs [].
    Is it art? Well, if a large canvas paint
  • Don't see why not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aendeuryu ( 844048 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:47AM (#11570633)
    A computer is a tool, like a paintbrush, or a camera. Even if the computer is helping you get the content, remember that found art [] is often considered art.

    Really, it's more of a question of whether or not it's good art, than art.
  • by grannoid ( 840858 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:49AM (#11570640)
    If the question isn't being asked disingenuously then it's being asked ignorantly in my opinion. Art is deliberately created in every aspect. The intricacies of a Pollock only appear random to those who choose not to really see. The randomly generated pictures created by typogenerator are just that - random. There is no engagment of artist and/or observer, there is no attempt to generate an emotional response, there is no meaning, no soul. 99.99% of the time the question "Is it art?" is simply a statement by the asker of the question that they have no concept of what art is. The only question that ever makes any sense at all is "is it good art or bad art?", a question that is patently inapplicable to typogenerator.
    • hogwash (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aendeuryu ( 844048 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:57AM (#11570675)
      "Art is deliberately created in every aspect."

      Even James Joyce couldn't state a definition of art this altruistic. From Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man...

      "-If a man hacking in fury at a block of wood, Stephen continued, make there an image of a cow, is that image a work of art? If not, why not?"

      "-That's a lovely one, said Lynch, laughing again. That has the true scholastic stink."
    • Is this [] art? A human designed the algorithms and the structures of the images involved with artistic intent. The images themselves were generated entirely by a computer and random number generator.

      Using tools to assist a human generating art doesn't disqualify the product as art in itself. Adding randomness doesn't disqualify it either, as at least one famous piece shows (in 'qualified' opinion, anyway).

      The line is more blurred than you suggest, I think.
    • If the question isn't being asked disingenuously then it's being asked ignorantly in my opinion. Fart is deliberately created in every aspect. The intricacies of a Pollock only appear random to those who choose not to really see. The randomly generated odors created by typogenerator are just that - random. There is no engagment of fartist and/or observer, there is no attempt to generate an emotional response, there is no meaning, no soul. 99.99% of the time the question "Is it fart?" is simply a statement b
    • If the author creates a truly sad painting but I consider it funny, is it still art? I mean there may be meaning in the painting but I interpret it differently. The picture is still art.

      With the computer generated, random works, one can still be emotionally moved by some of the pieces. Then it's art, isn't it?

      Have you ever stopped to think if the intricacies of a Pollock are not in fact random, but some people see more in it? Do I have to agree with your interpretation of a work for it to be art? Oh for

  • hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is Computer-Created Art, Art?

    Is some human generated art, art?

    Trying to define art by defining its boundaries is a waste of time.

    The poster has wasted his time, unless of course he finds posting to be an artistic endeavour... in which case, cheers!
  • If this [] is art, and a big, important deal in modern art, then anything can be.

    Or maybe modern art is a big joke, like some recent literary criticism [].

    • Sokal is not a literary critic so it's unfair to call his work a joke. His stunt against the ignorant and pompous editors of Social Text was a stupid and sensationalistic waste of time perhaps but I am sure as a physicist his work is not a joke.
  • But is it art? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Flyboy Connor ( 741764 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:03AM (#11570691)
    In the city where I live (which is in Europe), a new museum opened. The museum paid a famous American artist (forgot the name, sorry) a million bucks to create a new piece for the grand opening. The artist couldn't come, but he sent them a fax that described what the piece should look like. Basically, it consisted of a pile of bricks. The museum hired a couple of construction workers to build the pile of bricks. Unfortunately, the room where the pile should be constructed, didn't have the right dimensions. So the construction workers decided to build a completely different pile of bricks. The museum staff took pictures of the new pile, and faxed them to the artist, asking if this was OK. The artist sent a fax back that is was fine; evidently, the purpose of his artwork was not that a specific pile of bricks was to be built, but just that there was a pile of bricks. The museum paid his bill.

    Getting back to the subject, I think that most people would reject the notion that a computer can create art. The point is that art should be created with a purpose. A computer has no purpose (of itself). Of course, it can be argued that the human who created the program is the artist, and the computer is just one of his tools, just as in the case above the fax machine and the construction workers were tools of said artist.

    Personally, I think neither is art, since in my opinion art is not only about ideas, but also about execution. I don't think randomness is execution. But that's just me. You can call this art if you want to, but then I can argue that anything is art.

  • Computers are no more capable of creating art, than they are of creating words, or context, or cognition.

    Art, and the underlying nature of self expression by definition requires a self, a sentient entity with whom to express. It is the human element that designs the engine that creates images, then it is the human observer who chooses a particular image that evokes some emotional reaction, or expresses some deeper meaning. The computer in this sense is little more than a paintbrush albeit, a sophisticate
    • It's curious that in the art world, 'provenance' is so important. Not just because it might determine whether a (very good) fake is a fake but because, for some reason, humans do not associate art with anything but humans doing the creating.

      This is a species-ist attitude. There's actually a continuum. Autistic people can (and do) produce art, people otherwise denoted as 'vegetables' produce art. But elephants, apes, chimps, donkeys and ravens have created paintings. Birds can actually recognise a gen []
  • We live in a post-modern culture. "Critics" and "professionals" can look at a piece of turd on a bed of roses and call it art; most others will find that notion to be full of crap.

    So, can we define art? Can we draw the line somewhere? Hitler tried doing that.

    Anyway, art is art if you consider it art. It is subjective, it is not universal, and so on and so forth.

  • While at the individual level the question of "what is art?" is hard to answer, at the generic level I think a reasonable definition is that art is any act that intends to convey emotion from some "artist" to a beholder of the art. "Good" art is that which is effective at this even if you don't like it and "bad" art is ineffective at this.

    If you accept this definition then computer generated "art" might well be art, but the artist is the programmer rather than the computer, since it is from the programmer
  • I've heard it said (or claimed) that something is art if it's intended to be art by its maker. On this criterion the computer-generated works would not appear to be art, for lack of the needed intent -- unless maybe the computer was only a tool in the hands of a directing artistic mind.

    But I prefer to think that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder (or the ear of the listener). On any criterion like that, it would all depend what the computer-created work looks like, or what it sounds like, to
  • by rsidd ( 6328 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:18AM (#11570731)
    Douglas Hofstadter describes [] how a computer program by David Cope generates fake "Chopin" and "Bach" good enough to fool music students.
  • The question "What is Art?" has always seemed boring to me - at best a battle of definitions, at worst just noise.

    I live a new and better life since I switched to "What do I Like?". It's much more relevant to me, and if people disagree enough to care about it, at least the discussion is unlikely to bore.

  • My art as an example (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info@de v i n m o o r> on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:23AM (#11570743) Homepage Journal
    my computer generated art [] is good because I use my artistic ability as an MFA candidate to 1) create the design, 2) refine the output and 2) ultimately decide if the final product "looks right". Even if all of that was automatic, the audience would ultimately decide if the final product "looked right", and so humans are still deciding if the work is "art" or not. It doesn't really matter how it's created. That's why some fractal pictures are boring... because the audience thinks they are, based on the pattern, colors, whatever. Not all computer-generated art is equal, in the same way that not everyone likes the same things. :)
  • STOP!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tcdk ( 173945 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:25AM (#11570753) Homepage Journal
    The question of whether something is art or not is probably one of the most, uninteresting questions ever.

    1. Even if somebody will agree with you on the answer, it'll probably be for different reasons.
    2. Nobody cares. Really. It's just an excuse to say things that *sound* clever.
    • Re:STOP!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kopretinka ( 97408 )
      The parent should be modded insightful.

      But tcdk, you should take into account that *sounding* clever goes a long way. A rose by any other name would still smell the same, but nobody will buy roses from you if you call them hoarts.

      Remember, words have power.

    • What is beauty? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Asking, "What is art", is really asking the question of intelligent design. In other words, is an object an "artifact" - directly or indirectly caused by an intelligence such as a human being, or is it the mechanical outworking of the laws of physics? If something is "artificial", it is designed rather than natural - although the word has taken on negative connotations in recent centuries.

      Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference. At the Smithsonian museum of natural history, there is a large roc

  • It depends (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aim2future ( 773846 )

    Is true computer-created material possible, and if it is, is IT art?

    This question has two interpretations:

    1) Human organizing the "paint".

    2) No human intervention.

    In 1 you have just replaced the paint and canvas with something else, and obviously it must be art according to logics, but this does not guarantee it to be considered as art by any human, as little as any other art.

    In 2 you need a computer which is intentionally creating art or programmed good enough to mimic the creative proce

  • For all X: X is art iff someone buys it.
    • For all X: X is art if someone buys it.

      So M$ products are art? Hmm, hard to accept indeed.

      • For all X: X is art if someone buys it.

        So M$ products are art? Hmm, hard to accept indeed.

        I consider MS a work of art - don't you? If you don't consider their software worthy of the label, surely you consider that their business practises are?

        In any case I think you intended to question the "if" part and not the "only if" - Doah!
  • Here is a link to some excellent, world-class computer generated art, given the light of day by Ed Bergmann, a good friend of mine.

    The funny part is, whenever anyone sees this stuff, they do not question whether it is art or not.

    Actually, before he ever found Photoshop on the computer I built for him a dozen years ago, he never considered himself an artist at all. He was a programmer and into desktop publishing.

    Little did I know just how good an artist he was, until I first saw some of his 'creations' ru
  • A few years ago a woman had people hold up cards stating what they felt (emotional ideas?) and photographed them. I think this was a candidate for the Turner Prize. Some time later VW used the idea as part of a TV advert for their cars.

    Does anyone know the name of the artist?
  • by ozbird ( 127571 )
    As a wise man once said (no, I don't think it was the Pope): "I may not know much about art, but I know what I like."

    Good art is something that you can appreciate just by looking at it - be it skillful brush strokes, choice of colours or whatever. You look at it and say "What an artist!"

    "Art" that need to be explained to you, usually by a condescending curator in waffling hyperbole, isn't art. You look at it and say "What a BS artist!"

    True art should reflect the artist creating it, not the medium w
  • Is Computer-Created Art, Art?

    It's certainly bad enough to be. It does remind me of that little story in Stephen Fry's "The Hippopotamus", where Ted Wallace goes to an exhibit of paintings by schoolchildren. "Call these children's paintings? Why, a modern artist could have done them!"

  • The web server will look like a steaming pile of slashdot-art in the next few hours.

    Not... working... real... well.. at... the... moment...
  • My take is this: Cramming one's energies through the pinhole of language (english, java or whatever) leave's little, but what's left is powerful. I suppose it's an old story.
  • Definition problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by A-Rex ( 602166 )
    This is just a definition problem - like defining God. There are probably as many opinions/personal definitions to art as it is to God. Is it really neccessary to discuss the words? It has been said many times: If it's art to you - it's art.
  • Is it art?

    Naked tree branches against evening sky?
    Ripples on a surface of a lake?
    Patterns on a weathered rock?
    Animal trail on a smooth snow-covered field?

    All these things are beautiful but are not art, as there is no purpose, no execution, no communication, no human factor. They just happen to be beautiful - or they don't.

    It is the same with these pictures. Some of them are nice, some are beautiful, but beautiful != art.

  • Shocked and appalled (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hype10 ( 564871 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:58AM (#11570847)
    I am shocked and appalled at the Slashdot crowd in general's response to this article. I think this is a perfectly valid question and one that is interesting to debate, yet because it doesn't involve some obscure flavour of Unix or offer any potential for Microsoft bashing the topic is flung aside for less "fluffy" subjects. Bashing aside, here is my opinion.

    I recently created an interesting program for an interactive art display that used a webacam to monitor movement in a reception area and generate pictures from that (trails of colour where people had been, Mondrian rectangles created on the fly where people had walked etc). The pictures generated were fairly basic but they had a certain aesthetic appeal and on the whole were interesting. The fact they represented something real was even more interesting and the project was a big success, and FUN as well. I don't see why a computer can't make art, any more than why elephants can't sell paintings for £10000 (which they do!).

    So, while I agree the computer probably can't understand the motivation a human has for painting a particular picture, there can be some sort of basic knowledge that is behind a picture generated by a computer and that to me is art.

  • Five hundred years from now, do you think someone will hang it on their wall, or wipe their ass with it?
  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) * <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:08AM (#11570869) Homepage Journal

    What a crass thing to do. Take something creative and interesting, point the seething hordes of Slashdot at it so it breaks horribly and causes the creator lots of stress as her system administrators and bandwidth providers come down on her like a ton of bricks. Probable outcome? Yet another genuinely interesting project will disappear from the net for ever, trampled under the hooves of a flash mob with no real interest in the project.

    Of course computers can produce interesting and stimulating images. Consider the Mandelbrot set, for example, or a whole host of other functions which are highly sensitive to their inputs. Did Benoit Mandelbrot 'draw' or 'create' the Mandelbrot set image? Of course not. It is intrinsic in the concept of number, even though it required powerful computers to render it in any detail. Is it art? Human beings respond to it as if it was art.

    If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it's a duck. The Mandelbrot set is art (and so are pictures automatically taken by the Hubble Telescope) because we respond to them as art. So is the output of Katharina Nussbaumer's program which you have been so thoughtless as to destroy.

  • by cimetmc ( 602506 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:09AM (#11570875)
    I think the "Fractal Art Manifesto" is a good reference and could easily be extended to other instances of computer generated art.

  • but the computer program that created it might be.
  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Domini ( 103836 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:20AM (#11570904) Journal
    Everything and nothing is art... this doubly so!

    A better question would be:

    Is it inspirational art?
    Is it decorative art?
    Is it bad art?

    And then those who subjectively think it's art can discuss this...


  • As someone who's got absolutely no qualifications in art, I feel well qualified to offer my opinion on this matter.

    To my mind the question "Is computer generated art art?" is entirely the wrong way of looking at it. Why? Because you don't *make* art, you percieve it. Anything can be art. My dog can make art. How it's made isn't important.

    Sure, you can make art with the specific intent of making it. You can also intend to make art and fail.. and you can make art when you didn't intend to. The critical aspe
  • My name's not "Art"! Stop calling me that!
  • Sure it's art - and the programmer is the artist.
  • In order to understand what it is to be considered art it is helpful to take a look at the process of creativity.

    Consider the Bower Bird. During the mating season the male bower birds "create" a bower of pretty petals , butterfly wings, other shiny things and arranges them in an beautiful display. Experiments have been done for example where an observer moved items in the display while the male was out collecting other bits and pieces. Upon return the birds noticed the display had changed and replaced the
  • If it looks good, yes.
  • First, someone has already pointed out that to a great degree art is subjective. Still, that leaves room for common sense and good taste to play a part.

    I also found this interesting as it applies directly to a personal experience I had many years ago. My Freshman year in highschool (1986 I believe) I had to take art class. Being none to excited about it, I did the only thing a true nerd could do; I convinced my art teacher to let me create computer genereated art. She bought off on the idea and was del
  • The object of art is the object reformed deliberately and informed by our collective cultural experiences through the intent of the artist. It is this intent which forms the "energy" of the art itself.

    Through art we relive the energy of the subject of the art form vicariously and that energy, according to all thinkers on art, from Goethe to Berenson, is the primary source of aesthetic pleasure.

    Can a computer randomly generate art? Of course not. Beauty? Maybe. But not art. Beauty can be found in nat
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:02PM (#11572684) Journal
    I've had this conflict with a lot of so-called professionals before.

    One of the boundries seems to be the amount of human interaction. The pros think that only humans can create art.

    But even that they tend to poo-poo at. Is a 3d rendered image art? How about these []. From my perspective, some of these are extremely visually appealing, and no less art than a painting on the wall. A painter might disagree.

    Music is also an artform. I've had musicians who state that the industry is going to hell, because nobody makes "real" music anymore. Computers add enhancements to an artist's voice, intruments, etc. A lot of the instruments are synth.

    Certainly if they don't agree that electronic-assisted music is real, they wouldn't agree on something wholly computer generated.

    In my opinion though, art is a result of both the care that has going into its creation, and the visual/audible/etc impact of the final presentation. "Canned" music artists that can't sing without enhancement nor play an instrument are posers. The machines are just making a lack of real skill more entertaining.

    A band that gets on the stage, puts love and skill into their work, they're artists. But then, an electronica band that puts heart-and-soul into a real show are to me also artists.

    A machine that does a painting on its own... it's not an artist, it's not art. The code behind a machine that renders realistic original paintings... that code to me is the art. The machine is just running through instructions and choices to produce a piece of visual output falling within certain parameters. The actual code put into the piece is a result of skill, passion, and in the end is truely a work of intellectual art.

    The guys that do 3d renderings. Maybe they can't draw worth a damn with a pencil. But while I'm decent with a 3d program many put me to shame. The end result is still a product of skill and passion.

    I think that to qualify as art you much have all or most of these requirements:

    • An acceptable resulting impact of the piece onobservers
    • A demonstratable amount of skill implemented as to the design of the product
    • Originality of the final product
    • Time and effort given to the product (just because you're a known artist does not mean what you product is art, a lot of them run on reputation or sheer arrogance after a time)

    There are artists, entertainers, and people that are both. One is not always the other, but those who are both are truely gifted individuals.
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:04PM (#11572701) Journal
    Is it art? Who really cares. The interesting question is, is the output copyrightable?

    I have a fuller discussion of the theory here [], as part of a larger discussion demonstrating why the entire idea of "expression" in copyright theory has been destroyed. But for this post, and in summary, I will try to use the current copyright system, instead of destroying it.

    First, this is still on topic, because while we don't agree what art is and we never will, most definitions contain a creativity requirement. Copyright also contains a creativity requirement, and it is at least a little more concrete to discuss creativity in a copyright context than an art context.

    To make the issue even starker, I refer you to the Random Art [] page, where random art is created from scratch. (This also avoids one legal answer for TypoGenerator, that it has no copyright because it is infringing on the source images. That kind of ducks the issue.) Random Art is a program that generates an image purely from a random number generator; once the program is written, there is no additional input.

    Thus, there are two questions, which I believe do fairly directly pertain to the "is it art?" issue:
    1. Is this creative enough to qualify for copyright? There are two conflicting answers here:
      1. No, a computer can not be creative, at least in the legal sense. (Forget AI for the moment, it's not on the table right now anyhow and the problem is hard enough as it is!)
      2. Yes, on the grounds that if a human produced the exact same image, it would fully and unquestionably qualify for copyright.
      How to resolve it? Is calling some creative merely a description of the process, not the result as we would normally think of it? My full answer is in the essay above, but given the ground rules for this post of staying in the current system instead of my own ethical system, I don't have an answer for this. We'd have to wait for a judge.

      As an interesting side note, I note the Random Art program owner is now offering his prints for sale, so there is a commercial component at play here too. It technically doesn't affect the copyrightability or art question either way, but it would get a judge's attention, don't you thing?
    2. If this qualifies for copyright, who gets it? This sharpens the previous question all the more... there is really only one candidate in the Random Art case, the program owner. Yet, if creativity is a process, not a result, for any given image he applied no creativity at all; in fact the site periodically cycles images and I'd imagine it is a fully automated process by now. So by copyright criteria, he probably doesn't hold the copyright; he applied all his creativity in the creation of the generation program, which of course he fully owns. On the other hand, if creativity is an adjective applied to a final work, clearly the output itself is copyrightable; many things of lesser visual creativity are as well.
    This sort of thing doesn't just raise questions about art, it strikes to the heart of our hundreds-of-years-old way of conceptualizing "works" in general; it is one step beyond the usual meaning of the venerable "what is art" question. Our definition of work is too intimately tied with the physical world and breaks down completely in the modern computer era. This is just one such issue, but it is one of the rather sharp examples.

    (If this interests you, I encourage you to check out the full section [] on this issue.)

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.