Thursday, October 06, 2022

Art and Technology

Last weekend I went to one of Chicago's jewels, the Art Institute, and saw the opening of a new exhibit by Berlin-based artist Josephine Pryde entitled The Vibrating Slab referring mainly to the phone that constantly tries to gain our attention. The exhibit used photographs and sculptures to tie smart phones to prehistoric rocks. No pictures here because ironically they didn't allow us to take photos with our "slabs".

After I saw the Pryde exhibit I went to see the artist herself give a presentation. She related a story where she talked about going to the movies and seeing Top Gun: Maverick, not knowing it is a new release. Tom Cruise, who controlled a computer with hand movements in Minority Report, goes old-school in Maverick. Cruise and several young actors, through various plot contrivances, flew 20th century planes in a movie that could have taken place in the 90s. According to IMBD, at the insistence of Tom Cruise, minimal green screen and CGI aerial shots exist in the film, and even the close up cockpit shots were taken during real in-flight sequences. Old school indeed. Kind of the opposite of say the Disney series The Mandalorian filmed in a soundstage with everything generated by CGI.

Pryde's exhibit looked at the interaction with technology as art. Upstairs from Pryde's exhibit was art from technology, a series of prints that David Hockney created on another slab, the iPad, in Normandy during the early days of the Covid pandemic. 

No. 340, 21st May 2020 - David Hockney

On the way from Pryde's exhibit to the lecture I passed through the Art Institute's impressionism collection and compared real Monets with the fake one I created with Dall-E. Monet manages to capture a detailed scene with broad brush strokes--if you zoom in the detail disappears. Dall-E can't quite pull that off.

V├ętheuil by Monet

Monet Dagsthul by Dall-E


  1. I gave up reading sci-fi at the end of 6th grade (I changed schools, so stopping off at the Boston Public Library was no longer convenient, but I had already read all the sci-fi they had), but one story I remember had an enormous package arrive at an artist's front door. It was a printer and clearly from centuries in the future, and the user's manual was in a language from the future. Our hero excerpts enough of the user's manual to hide what was going on but still allow a linguist friend to figure out the langauge, and goes on a random button pushing rampage. He figures out that a particular sequence of button pushes results in a random "work of art" assembled from images in the printer's memory. As a joke, he mixes one in with his own work. And gets rave reviews. Next time around, he mixes in a couple more. And gets even more positive reviews. Soon he's famous for starting a new movement in modern art. Finally, the linguist figures out enough of the language for our hero to realize that the sequence of button pushes deletes used images from memory. And by that point in time, there are no more images left, and he's left with a useless pile of junk.

    As someone who thinks the current round of "AI" is about meaningless random recombinations that act as Rorscarch test like images/sentences on their viewers/readers, it's easy for me to say that: once again reality recapitulates fiction as farce.

    1. The story of our times will be of a society whose "art" is all created by mysterious algorithms, and then one day the algorithms all stop and nobody is skilled in the ability to create works of art from scratch anymore.

    2. one of several EGs3:46 PM, October 09, 2022

      Do you mean

  2. Thanks to "one of several EGs" for figuring out where the story came from: that looks to be what I was remembering (with details suprisingly minimally messed up). And that "Thanks" is a real thanks: I wasn't sure how badly I was misremembering it or if it was something I had read far more recently (I really haven't read much of any any sci-fi (other than Shin-ichi Hoshi (in Japanese)) since 1965 or so (I really have to get off my butt and read Dune and UK Le Guinn, which were after I stopped reading sci-fi)).