Re: [-empyre-] a few questions
* Which is to be considered the work of art, the
first creation, the metacreation, or both?
Speaking from my own perspective - in the late 1960's
I was seeking ways to remove myself from the work. A major
influence was Ehrensweig's "Hidden Order of Art". This was
a popular concern at the time and had parallels in other
genres - the flat field painters who painted the edges of
their canvases in order to reify their is-ness and
undermine the concept of the framed surface which held
Sol Lewitt's quote in 67 also influenced me: "the idea
becomes a machine that makes the art".
After I read about Conway's Game of Life (in Scientific
American in 1970), working in video - making feedback
synthesisers etc... and also doing lightshows for concerts
for some years I began to develop a system where I would
create a process and that process would create the artwork.
Originally I worked on paper using dice and random number
So I could remove myself by one degree. This is also very
similar to the concerns of the Systems Art group of the time
who were also an influence. I first saw computer work in 68
and it seems the natural tool. By 74 I was using computers
as my main medium.
Later I would realise that all my attempts to remove myself
had failed - I had produced a "personal" methodology and
body of work. People would see my work and say "that's a
* Considering the metacreation is not directly
created by the artist but by his/her creation,
who is the author of the metacriation? The author
of the first creation or the first creation itself?
The concept of authorship seems to me to be more about the
monetary appreciation of art than a conceptual one. It's
not important that Cezanne painted those canvases - what's
important is that they were made. (I don't mean this to
undermine Cezanne's immense contribution). If you are in
the business of buying and selling Cezanne paintings for
millions of dollars then - yes - the authorship of the work
So what I wrote above - I was trying to "author" a system
with the intention that the system would "author" the work.
Really I don't think this is very different (if at all) from
what Cezanne was doing. Because the system was intrinsically
a part of my own central obsession (very much a part of me)
I failed to make the separation I desired. The system simply
became a copy of that part of me that was concerned with
making artworks. So I had achieved something quite
interesting - the externalisation of my (personal?) creative
* If one person/group creates a piece of software
capable of generating metacreations, and another
person/group uses that piece of software to
generate new creations, who can claim authorship?
The first person/group? The second person/group?
The software itself?
Back in the middle years of "computer art" - a horrible term! -
you could go to exhibitions and easily decide which works had
been made with what software (that's a MacDraw!). Interestingly
in the early days when everybody used a pen plotter there was
a lot more personal differentiation in the works on show.
I believe that this is because writing software (which is what
artists had to do in those early days) is a much more intimate
process than pushing a mouse around and using someone else's
software - it's easier for the creators
personality to survive the signature of the process. Also a
programming language is much less invasive and less closed box
than a shrinked wrapped app.
* Should metacreation surpass the concept of
authorship? And what concept would replace it?
In my most recent project - which isn't underway yet
because I haven't been able to obtain the significant
funding it requires - I'm intending to use evolutionary
robotics to make automata that can draw. Using concepts
of homeostasis and autopoesis the team are hopeful that
the robots will be able to go beyond the basic fitness
functions they are evolved to meet - they will continue
to learn after being evolved. I am hopeful that it will
be possible to make an automaton that can create
artworks autonomously that are distinct from the kind of art
that the creators of the automaton might make.
Clearly this is highly speculative at present - which is
why I am having trouble finding the funding!
I have a son who is also an artist:
although there are some similarities between his concerns
and mine he has a distinctly different style. Now I'm a
machine and I helped make the Danny machine. I see no
reason why it shouldn't be possible to replicate this with
As von Neumann pointed out in his Theory of Self Replicating
Automata there are no theoretical restrictions on machine
reproduction. It IS possible.
A major limitation is that humans are
hugely sophisticated machines compared to even the most
powerful computing systems around. But we have to start
I'd also like to question the concept of personality and authorship
that seems implicit in the way these questions have been framed.
As I mentioned above it is not important that Cezanne made those
paintings - what is important is that they were made. Furthermore
if Cezanne hadn't made them then somebody else would have - they
were a product of their time. Both Leibniz and Newton independently
devised calculus because it was necessary at that point in history.
So the whole concept of authorship, in that sense, is (and always
has been) meaningless. So this is nothing to do with metacreation.
To quote Biederman - art is about the evolution of visual knowledge.
It's not about buying and selling names.
Paul Brown PO Box 413, Cotton Tree QLD 4558, Australia
mob 0419 72 74 85 fax +1 309 216 9900
Visiting Fellow - Birkbeck http://www.bbk.ac.uk/hafvm/cache/
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