23 September 2023

Art in the age of ChatGPT

I am forever fascinated with moving Art insallations. Perhaps, theatre to me is one such dynamic installation. One of the reasons I was so fascinated with the K-21 Art Museum in Düsseldorf. I've never seen the Guggenheim Bilbao that Dan Brown pays such homage to in his ORIGIN.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. Image courtesy: Jure Kravanja (on the internet)

I had read about the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao back in 1999, for the 1st time. Avid and glutty about art, I read about it all, then met friends from Spain who spoke and spoke through many nights over their dry and drier as they came Rosa Wine. Yet, never had the good fortune to visit it. Some day I shall before I'm interred into the Hall of eternal sleep!

As Dan Brown's Ed Kirsch states in ORIGIN, Art is after all an abbreviation of Artificial. I'd go one step further and say it is an abbreviation of Artificial Reality.  For... what do we project via art but an exaggerated juxtaposition of Reality!!! Or, realities. For... there are several realities. The reality of the original that inspired the artist. The reality of the artist's mentality at the time of creation. The reality of the work through its évolutionary process: here, its daily reality changes. The reality of its final state. The reality of the perceiver. Perhaps, the realities of the several perceivers. The reality of the socio-cultural spatio-temporality of the society in which it is beheld and perceived. Therefore, it posits the question: can art generated by an AI, any AI have artistic value or aesthetic relevance or societal value? Then, does that art belong to, as Langdon asks in the same book, the programmer or the computer/bot.  I take this further... do we have to include the AI interface or the algorithm that generated it as further stakeholders?

Why are we boggled with this? It all started with a voice note from a fellow theatre practitioner ealy in the morning. He was responding to a blog post of mine I had shared the link to. The voice note: "Reminded of a line from AURANGAZEB (by Dr. Indira Parthasarathy), can one appreciate Taj Mahal on empty stomach!" That further led me to reflect: can art be created on empty stomachs? Quite the same thing that George Büchner in his Prefatory dig to his satire LEONCE AND LENA asks through two characters:

Alfieri: E la Fama? (And Fame?)
Gozzi: E la fame? (And hunger?)

Alfieri is Vittorio Alfieri and Gozzi is Carlo Gozzi, both Italian People of Letters. Check them on the internet for further read. While you're there, also look Quasimodo up! Onwards and upwards...

It is interesting how references shuttle across the 'synapse triggers' in response to one thought. This triggered interplay of ideas is what leads to creation and the process of creativity. If one has put in enough effort to also have read writings across cultures, it is a juicy, exciting journey. Dealing with Art in the age of GPT, I consciously use the term synapse triggers. As Natyashastra says, Yatho Hasta thatho Drishti, Yatho Drishti thatho Manah, Yatho Manah thatho Bhaava, Yatho Bhaava thatho Rasa. So, eventually the mind drives the creation. Now, what is a bot but an Artificial mind? However, it has been programmed by a human mind to think. Therefore, it may not be bootless to say an art created by an AI is a product of science and technology. When technology can drive sound, acoustic and lighting in theatre, why cannot or should not technology drive Art! Points to ponder as visual and performance arts enter the landscape of NFT.

The possibilities may not enthuse the orthodox. At least, we can rest assured with the anagnorisis that that artifical bot artist would still create art, even if they do not go hungry. As to whether a bot could appreciate Taj Mahal, well if it did in a human sense, that would be very very peripatetic!

Let me know your thoughts.


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