I think the situation calls for a new category.
Earl Wajenberg
21

There is an interesting spectrum of deliberate intent at work here Earl. A great many works of art are commissioned, as you say, “at the deliberate behest of someone not the maker”. Think of all the portraits of kings and noblemen painted by the great masters. “Paint me astride a horse, with my manor in the background, my family in the foreground, and clearly displaying my armorial bearings on the horse’s trappings.”

One of my favorite pictures which hangs not only on my own wall, but as a print on the wall of the USS Enterprise-D’s observation lounge, came about because I asked Rick Sternbach to “paint me a picture of the ship from this picture orbiting the planet from that picture.” Certainly Rick, as the artist, created the painting and it is his skill that deserves the credit for creating a work of art that I could not, but the picture did turn out exactly as I imagined it.

If I had described the picture with its shiny teardrop spaceship and red and purple planet and so forth to a computer program, which having learn from studying the artwork of Rick, and Chesley Bonestell and other great astronomical artists, and it had painted Serpent’s World for me, would that be art? What if it had only studied NASA photographs of planets, stars, and vehicles, and I was meticulous in describing the ship’s shape? What if it had generated it randomly, based upon NASA images and the same reasoning that led Rick and me, and E.E. Smith before us, to conclude that tear-drop was a good shape for interstellar craft?

The notion that machine-created beauty it is intermediary is attractive, and applies well to “Fractal Art”, and the like, but as machine learning, machine understanding and machine skill become more and more real, I wonder if it is enough.

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