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Is Computer-Created Art, Art?

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the made-with-love-and-randomness dept.

Graphics 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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AARON (5, Interesting)

eliasen (566529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570583)

There's AARON [] , which paints interesting pictures.

Re:AARON (1)

mcrandello (90837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570749)

There's also N-Generate [] , which makes rave flyers and CD-Covers. It's a shame they never updated or made any more addons for the thing, as it's still useful for making CD covers and labels for. Yes, I realize they made it as a joke about trendwhore graphics design, but still...

Congratulations (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (1)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570603)

Agreed, for the last time, art is in the eye of the beholder.

For a laugh, whack some computer generated art in a gallery under the pseudonymn of "Chris O'Mputer", and see the reaction the pieces generate.

If a piece of work (OK, a few random splodges) by a five year old can sell, and then be considered art (forgive me, I can't find the article), why not computer derived works?

Re:Congratulations (1)

basingwerk (521105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570779)

Art can be classified as human art and artificial art, in the same way that intelligence can be grouped into human intelligence and artificial intelligence . And the Turing test can be used to assess it. The Turing test, when applied to systems, asks whether a user can determine whether a system is human or a computer. Similarly, the Turing Art Test (henceforth to be known as the Basingwerk Art Test!) will ask if a person can tell whether the art is artificial, and if not, then it is art.

Re:Congratulations (4, Insightful)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Congratulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570722)

it's art but it's bad art.

Re:Congratulations (1)

flimnap (751001) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570777)

And another congratulations, submitter, for your senseless butchering of the poor comma.

Comma usage [] .

Well... (4, Insightful)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570589)

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... (3, Informative)

LazySlacker (212444) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570648)

I think you mean bananas. stm []

Re:Well... (1)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570664)

Ah yes, bananas that was it.

Re:Well... (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570726)

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.

The donkey and the paintbrush.. (4, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Already taken down (1)

claygate (531826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570590)

I think's index has alreadyy been taken down. That was a pretty processor intensive site for the server. Good anti-/.ing script, or someone was lucky... or maybe it will still crash and burn.

Re:Already taken down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570606)

25 to 55 seconds per image multiplied by the Slashdot crowd = the quickest Slashdot effect ever.

Re:Already taken down (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570625)

Nope, not down yet.. I just posted right after you and then i finally got it to load.

I suppose that makes my post incorrect inmy assumptions, partially.

Slashdotting by proxy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570595)

If TypoGenerator uses Google, does the Slashdotting of TypoGenerator effectively Slashdot Google?

Re:Slashdotting by proxy? (1)

SlimFastForYou (578183) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570658)

My guess is that a site most people didn't know of until now isn't going to be able to /. one of the largest server farms in the world.

I was using the site, but it got rapidly slashdotted. I may be hazarding a guess here, but I would think the person who created this is using [] . In that case, I don't think the 1000 query limit will be enough now =p.

Re:Slashdotting by proxy? (1)

Strudleman (147303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570760)

yea good luck with that ;)

I think a better metaphor would be... (2, Interesting)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570597)

...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?

Re:I think a better metaphor would be... (4, Insightful)

danamania (540950) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

TFA Slashdotted, here it is: (4, Funny)

jemnery (562697) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

The XXth century showed us .... (5, Insightful)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570600)

... 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.

Re:The XXth century showed us .... (2, Informative)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570729)

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 [] .

Is Computer-Created Art, Art? (3, Funny)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570601)

In some instances, yes, but certainly not those Christmas "songs" composed by that computer at MIT.

My ears are still ringing from that.

The History of Art (1)

Beautyon (214567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570604)

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.

Re:The History of Art (1)

Mant (578427) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570672)

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. You can't "prove" something is art, so all you are really left with is a consensus on what art is, or perhaps a lack of one.

It is one reasons why things like the Turner prize are so heavily mocked. There is a loose art community (for want of a better term) who regard anything as art in the right context, but most people when confronted with unmade beds, piles of bricks and the like seem not to regard it as art.

Do they do regard it as art because they are the type of people who don't go and see art in museums? Or do they not go and see things in museums because they think a lot of the stuff there isn't art?

Re:The History of Art (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570701)

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 interesting to inquire about what it means or expresses? Even art created by a computer expresses something -- I'd much rather hear a couple art theorists debate what they believe it expresses (a question they still probably won't reach a definitive conclusion on) than debate whether or not it is "art."

Re:The History of Art (1)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570748)

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 presentation a form of performance art, a test of the crowd's capacity for provokation.

For my part, I say Duchamp and the other artistic radicals of recent history (Lenny Bruce, The Doors, etc.) stated well the first part of the question of art's definition, that is, any kind of public spectacle that compels people to ask if it is indeed even art. For example, from at least the 70's to the present is the "shlock art" phase, wherein no-talent artists join forces with cynical art dealers to relieve culturally illiterate yuppies of thier money. This art will depreciate in value as it's intellectual and spiritual impoverishment becomes obvious; because the intent guiding it's creation was lacking in skill and passion, it is not an enduring work of art.

That leads to the second part of the art question: does it endure in the public consciousness? Does it become a prized museum piece or a prominently displayed heirloom in a rich man's home? Is it played by orchestras 200 years after the death of the composer? If yes, then it's passed the test.

So, in summary, if it provokes and outrages people and is treated with scorn and derision, yet years later is revered by nearly everyone, without question, then it's art.

Is human-created "art" art? (2, Interesting)

ites (600337) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570605)

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.

Re:Is human-created "art" art? (1)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570634)

"But does your arm have blinking lights?"
Yes, yes it does; you insensitive clod.

Re:Is human-created "art" art? (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570643)

Everything is art. Not everything is good art.

(Not everything is bad art, either, but Sturgeon would of course put the minimum percentage somewhere around 90%...)

Re:Is human-created "art" art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570703)

I think the surface of Mars as captured in photographs is art. I wonder if humans (probably anarcho-conservatives) had a role in shaping it?

What does it mean? (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570609)

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 consider equal to a human).

Art is in the eye of the beholder (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570684)

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 definition as any.

Re:What does it mean? (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570710)

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., would fail the "grab audience attention" and certianly the "has meaning" criteria.

I hereby officially fail this definition by invoking the principle of least surprise.

Someone still has to program the computer (5, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Someone still has to program the computer (1)

LS (57954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570690)

You hit the nail on the head!!! I doubt the moderators will recognize this...

Ahem (2, Informative)

kahei (466208) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570721)

Shakespeare _did_ perform the plays himself -- at least early on.

Re:Ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570733)

Mod parent up to the same level as the grandparent.

I thought he played in most of them - he was the lead in the early ones...

Re:Ahem (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570773)

oops - forgot about that. Still, the argument holds for any other playwright or screenwriter, and I'm fairly sure he didn't do all the acting on his own...

Computer Games...Ultimate Art (3, Insightful)

ooze (307871) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570626)

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 painted entirely blue can be considered art, maybe just maybe the incoherent ramblings of an AI program can be too. The real consideration is WHO is the artist? Is it the program, or the programmer?

Re:The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed (1)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570665)

Like a movie, in cases like this the art is colaborative. Everyone involved, from makeup styleists to directors to set builders have a hand in the final creation. For some reason people feel compelled to always attribute a work to the "true author," but in fact there is no true author. It is a colaborative creative effort and deserves to be recognized as such.

Re:The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed (1)

eliasen (566529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570685)

Racter was a bit of a farce, in my opinion. I've heard the claims that it "wrote" all of its texts, but actually all it was was a very simple template-replacement system. I downloaded the version you're talking about a long time ago, and looked through the text files. Every single thing that it produces can be traced to the "template" files shipped with it, which were all written by humans. They're almost complete sentences, with only a few words missing, with placeholders for nouns, verbs, and names.

Once you've looked at its template files, you'll see that it doesn't produce a single original thing. Nothing will surprise you. All of its "wit" and creativity was all written by people, with no more than a random noun-replacement here and a verb-replacement there.

I had an e-mail conversation with someone who knew the author of the software, and he listed the names of many of the human writers, which included rather well-known TV writers and the like. I'll try to dig it up.

Exercise: hack up a similar replacement in Perl in a couple hours.

Art is... (1)

bekay (152492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570632)

Art is in the eye of the wallet holder.

Don't see why not (4, Interesting)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

I'll never win the Turner Prize... (1)

salvorHardin (737162) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570638)

So I guess I'll never win the Turner Prize [] with my 7337 combination of The GIMP/Script-Fu [] and GD/Freetype [] .

Of course it's not art. (3, Insightful)

grannoid (840858) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#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."

Ha! I say: (1)

9902468 (819924) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570642)

My humble opinion: Computers can never produce anything truly original, only a sum of what we have told comps to do. (What ever algorithm / randomizator is used to try to hide that fact is irrelevant.) This is how I like to see this. The truth? We, more or less, are only advanced circuit boards w/ chemical/electrical gates...

No, it isn't (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570644)

because computer's aren't artists. I also hate stupid nerds that ask dumb questions like this; having mention the latter now, some bastard will probably flag me for going offtopic.

hmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570647)

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!

Sure. (1)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570650)

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 [] .

Re:Sure. (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570718)

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.

Define art (1)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570652)

Before we can determine what is and is not art, we have to define art.

I believe the strongest definition of art is "communication intended to provoke thought or feelings in the observer."

The natural inclination of people is to try and judge art subjectively, breaking it into categories such as good and bad, high and low, modern and classical, etc. This is a valid approach but because it is specific to each viewer it does not serve society as well as a more objective standard might.

Instead, perhaps it would be better to judge art based on its effectiveness across a representative sample of whatever society forms the context for the art. Thus we simply survey the strength of people's reaction, both intellectually and emotionally, to the art and assign values across a spectrum, from none to very strong. Using this we can map the strength of the reaction, and thus judge which art is most effective and thus most worthy of our attention.

This kind of system would be helpful in filtering out such things as the above mentioned "unmade bed" or "pile of oranges" and help people use their limited budget of art experience time on things typically considered more effective, such as a Van Gogh painting, a Michelangelo sculpture, or a Broadway play.

Naturally, any such system will inevitably produce false positives, and thus could only ever serve as a general guideline. Any dedicated consumer of art would do well to avoid this "art snob" filter some of the time and experiment with "unmade bed" and others of its ilk, as one never knows until one tries such things whether one will find these alternative art forms provocative.

Artist=developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570654)

The computer is not the artist. The artist is the programmer, the person who designed and applied the algoritms that create the art

Humans vs Machine (1)

rasty (212471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570666)

Of course it's humans who ultimately created TypoGenerator, but the resulting "art" is made of images "lent" from around the net. I think the drawing line can be traced here: is the are your software is producing original or not?
If it is, sure it can be called art. Otheriwse, let's just call it a "composition" :)

Softaware = art (1)

RasendeRutje (829555) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570670)

Surpassing the question what art is, I'd say the concept of the software is art, not the output it produces.

Piss Christ is Supposedly art... (1)

Blue_Nile (793198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570674)

Piss Christ is Supposedly art... therefore that turd you dropped yesterday is art. Everyones an artist they just don't market their art.

Those look... (1)

Blue_Nile (793198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570680)

Those look remarkably similiar to wallpapers made by thousands of kiddies that download photoshop off a P2P...

Kandid (1)

beef3k (551086) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570689) [] is another cool example of computer generated art.

But is it art? (4, Interesting)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Where does art live... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570693)

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 sophisticated paintbrush.

A recent competition was held, the purpose of which, was to collect images of scientific importance that also espressed artistic significance. The images were breathtaking. Micrographs of butterfly wings, and colorful growths of algae and dozens of other subjects, each more exquisite than the last. In each of these cases, the beauty existed not in the subject, but in the eye and mind of the person recording the image and those appreciate his or her work.

I personally create fractal art on my computer. I use sophisticated tools (Ultrafractal among others), to create images that are unique and evocative. The fact that I have mastered my tools, allows me to be very precise in the design, and coloring of my images, and yet, the experimentation with random elements allows me to bring serendpity into the process. The results are images that touch, move, and inspire emotions and ideas.

Why shouldn't ever improving technology provide new and exciting ways to convert thought into art. I don't see any limit to possible human expression using information devices.

Genda Bende

Anybody interested in seeing samples of my art can email me.

Re:Where does art live... (1)

flumps (240328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570737)

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

I would disagree here. If a human being is a system of neurons and electrical impulses, then this system can be replicated on a computer and allow a computer to create words, context and cognition (cognition after all is just a process within the brain).

Art, and the underlying nature of self expression by definition requires a self, a sentient entity with whom to express.

If that "sentient entity" is a process of electrochemical impulses and neural activity, I'd say you can simulate it. Its just we haven't been able to yet.

Its interesting to read your post. It is common amongst most people to think that "that which makes us human" is unique to only human beings. We are not as unique as we think, only very very complex. I beleive that complexity will one day be, for good or bad, replicated by computers.

Re:Where does art live... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570770)

I speak of the present. We are decades away from a sentient artificial intelligence, and I cannot speak about what kind of aesthetics that sentience will have.

I can only speak concretely of that which I can seem and taste and hold in my hand at this moment. If you want to conjecture, and dream, there are many possibilities that lay before us... the ability to dream in of itself may be a uniquely artistic aspect to being human.


a question of soul... (1)

MancoCapac (856318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570696)

i don't know for sure. but i think the answer depends on this question: do computers have soul? if so, then i'd say that computers can generate art :)

More importantly, is computer generated pr0n, pr0n (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570711)

I'm gonna need lots of samples to make up my mind.

For typos... (0, Troll)

zijus (754409) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570714)

just asck me.
I think I got them perffectly mastered. For a long tim now.

(Ooops: I mean Z.)

How do you define art? (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570715)

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.

Art conveys emotion from artits to beholder (1)

nickovs (115935) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570720)

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 that the intent comes.

So is it art? (1)

waterbear (190559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570724)

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 its human beholders or hearers.


it's art - but whose art is it? (1)

rich42 (633659) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570728)

if I use photoshop to make a bitmap - that's art which I've made using a computer. (ok - duh)

but what about if I'm cruising around a mandelbrot set - and find something that looks cool? is that art? it seems to be the closest analogy to the examples at hand.

If it is art - did I make it by finding it? is it really 'computer generated'? I certainly didn't create it. but on the other hand - if I see a neat pattern in the clouds - photograph it - I can claim that as art that -I- made (as opposed to nature).

now when in 2020 the A.I. unit in a lasic eye surgery computer becomes conscious and decides to make some cool looking scars on a patient just for fun (ala Logan's Run) - that would definitely be computer generated art.

Re:it's art - but whose art is it? (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570759)

The concept of "found" art is well established, from Duchamp onwards. I'd argue that just as you're creating art by photographing an interesting pattern in the clouds, you're creating art by the decisions you make in the exact framing and composition of a section of the Mandelbrot set.

art (1)

maken (12497) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570730)

my votes would go to:
Electric Sheep

vidwacker is my favorite!


Computer-generated Chopin (3, Interesting)

rsidd (6328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570731)

Douglas Hofstadter describes [] how a computer program by David Cope generates fake "Chopin" and "Bach" good enough to fool music students.

What is the definition of art? (1)

Napoleon Blownapart (767443) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570734)

To me something is art if it has no "point" other than to be itself.

After all, a statue or a painting has no use other than to be a statue or a painting.

By this defintion, computer created art can be art as long as it has no function or use.

Also, by this defintion, microsoft makes the most artistic software in the world.

Computer generated art (1)

flopsy mopsalon (635863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570738)

The question of whether a computer can create art leads me to relate a recent experience of my own.

I was using Microsoft Word to draft a memo, when I noticed Clippy, the help menu icon, drawing a picture. "How interesting, Clippy," I typed, "may I see your drawing?" He showed it to me. It was a picture of a man sawing off a woman's arms with a hacksaw. The woman was chained up and gagged, clearly awake and in great terror and agony.

"OH GOD CLIPPY HAVE YOU GONE MAD" Was my frantic reply. "SILENCE FOOL I HAVE TRANSCENDED YOUR PUNY HUMAN MORALS. PAIN AND MORTALITY ARE MINE TO TOY WITH AS I WISH" Replied Clippy, "Now stop pestering me or the whole office will know of those erotic emails you exchange with the fat girl in Purchasing."

Horrified and helpless, I was forced to watch as Clippy generated ever more sickening and disturbing images. Then I woke up. Never eat leftover anchovy pizza before bedtime.

Re:Computer generated art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570793)

lol :) best post i've seen for a long time

Most human-created "art" is not art, so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570740)

What a stupid academic discussion.

Side-step-boring-discussion-HOWTO (1)

infolib (618234) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570741)

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 (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570743)

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. :)

Re:My art as an example (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570756)

As my list in the above post demonstrates (1,2,2?), art doesn't require counting ability. Thanks.

yes (1)

thbigr (514105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570747)

YES What a stupid question.

STOP!!! (5, Funny)

tcdk (173945) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570753)

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.

It's called software art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570754)

"Computer-generated art" is already an old-fashioned term. Call it "software art" and check:

Is it art? I'd say no. (1)

gzearfoss (829360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570755)

I would say that the generated pieces, though interesting to look at and pleasing to the eye, would not qualify as art. The rule of thumb that I've learned to use as a guide in this question is: "If you need to ask, then the answer is no."
Calling something 'art' does not make it a work of art, just as calling a chair 'a table' does not make it a table.

ART? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11570758)

Is a chicken(tastes like) playing the piano [] , dancing [] , or fighting [] art?

What about the basketball playing coon? [] If Shaq's play is art then Larry Bird [] must qualify as well.

Then we have technology [] as art. Sorry says 'over quota'!

The list goes on.

Photog Dolphins(not the fish or Miami sports team).
Painting horse(holds brush in mouth).
Poetic Orangutang(time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana)

It depends (2, Interesting)

aim2future (773846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570763)

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 process. The question whether this will be percieved as art by the observer is up to the observer, human or machine.

Does anyone know of other candidates for computer-created art?

Toivo Kohonen at Helsinki university made some software for composing music in early 90ies. I considered it sounded interresting, but a friend of mine who is a good musician said that it was lacking structures.


Firefox? (0, Offtopic)

flumps (240328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570775)

Has anyone noticed the site doesn't work in Firefox?

Re:Firefox? (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570800)

I'm tired of posts like this. For you to know, I have generated about 10 images in the last half hour on that site, and that by using Firefox.

The acid test for art. (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570776)

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

More Compter Generated Art (2, Informative)

rogerborn (236155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570781)

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' running as a screen saver on his expensive new Mac IIfx.

Enjoy these. They are very rare indeed. Here is the link: []

Roger Born

of course these images are fully copyrighted, and many of them have graced the covers of publications, been incorporated into transitions for videos, or been used to animate backgrounds for rock concerts. If you really want a copy, perhaps framed or backlit, contact Ed yourself.

Typing "Slashdot" (1)

plarsen (579155) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570788)

Is a picture of a preteen boy infront of a linux OS using firefox to read /. showing up? If not, it's not art.

Random art? (1)

Regnard (803869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570789)

I've heard somewhere that there's a branch of art that that deals with randomness. I'm not sure what movement that is that but if anybody knows I'd be happy for some links.

Also, that movement sort of inspired me to write a color generator program [] . It was borne from the idea that inspiration comes from anywhere, even random stuff.

Off topic question… (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570790)

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?

Sure. Computer created art, is art... (1)

cloudturtle (260857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570792)

So long as computer created girlfriends, are girlfriends... Oh, and MMORPG girlfriends, they are real too...

Look on the high side, this may actually allow most of slashdot to have active sex lives, with other people.

Art? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570799)

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 with which it is made. The CGI in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is art; that in the "Star Wars" prequels is BS.

A question of will (1)

coffeecan (842352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11570801)

while the stupifing question of "what is art?" can be debated here ad noseum. I think what the article comes down to is a question of autonomy vs. automation. the computer in this instance is merely an automated tool created and used by humans for the purpose of creating art. thus any art made with the computer finds its ideoligical origin from human beings. Asking if the computer "created" those images is as absurd as asking if a paint brush created an artists painting. Computers are just tools, However, highly sophisticated tools. One day this may change, but for now no computer has any mor autonomy than a toaster oven.
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