Why Algorithms Will Never Make Great Art

This A.I. portrait just sold for $432,000 at Christie’s. Why is it so valuable?

Portrait of Edmond Bellamy which sold at Christie’s in New York. Courtesy: Obvious

In the province of modern art, there are countless examples of art that have been created by mechanical mediation, or even completely surrendered to the vicissitudes of a predetermined process.

Undoubtedly, the A.I. painting looks like art. Not good art, I would argue, but since it fits into the convention of three-quarter view portraiture, is contained within a gilded frame, and is hung on a wall in an environment where we expect art to be displayed and sold, it looks like the real deal.

Could we ever imagine a computer having intention, passion or sophistication, or indeed being able to think in any way?

To draw the strings of this vague picture together, the philosopher Guy Sircello asks, “In what manner do we normally assess a work of art?” He looks at the parameters we tend to use to evaluate an artist’s output, such as “competency,” “coherence,” “seriousness,” “maturity,” “sanity,” and so on, and suggests that it is through these parameters that we are able to approach a work of art as a work of art. His philosophy even helps us makes sense of John Cage’s Variations II in the context of the artist’s intentions and the piece’s historical moment.

Art historian, critic, novelist, artist. Author of How To Read Paintings: https://www.chrisjoneswrites.co.uk/how-to-read-paintings/

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