July 9 2021
Came across this clip today, in Michael Connolly’s blog. In it, Vera Molnar speaks about why she uses randomness in her art, saying that the old idea was that the artist would create from a place of intuition, but that including randomness into a process would allow a machine to create variations beyond what intuition could produce.

I like this way of seeing the computer; it also makes sense when thinking of art made with machine learning and AI. The discourse in the news is often that the AI created the work, but the truth is often that an artist or programmer finessed and sorted the output, selecting and compiling the best outputs.

The generative approach makes a lot of sense when dealing with visuals because the eye can quickly scan a grid of generated visuals and pick out the most visually striking. A generative process makes less sense for audio or video work; time-based work doesn’t scan the same way visuals do, requiring a much deeper time commitment to interpret. 

I think my lack of interest in generative processes is partly because I’m not interested in creating visual experiences. My interest is more in the realm of creating systems which generate experience.

For example, the development of Shadowing was focused on creating a system which would evoke a sense of exploration and play. The visual of the shadow on the sidewalk was only important as a method of communicating the action of the system, not as a visual in itself.

The visual output of Proof of Work holds a similar place in the project, a result of my engagement with an interactive system. The image is produced not by asking the computer for randomness within a system, but by setting a task for the artist, the difficulty and repetitiveness of which generates visual variation.

Perhaps in a world where computers were external workstations, the idea of outsourcing the intuitive possibilities of art felt more exciting than at this current moment, where the computer feels internalized and all-encompassing.

Proof of Work embodies my approach to the generative image, where instead of celebrating the potential for the computer to add to the breadth of the artist’s practice, I see the computing experience as an encompassing set of systems which seek to modify behaviour and impede the flow of production and intuition.