It’s a complex question.
If you’d like to bury yourself in the details, I’d recommend reading Can Computers Create Art?, an essay authored by Aaron Hertzmann in 2018, where Hertzmann tackles a more precise question: “Could a piece of computer software ever be widely credited as the author of an artwork?”
Hertzmann broadly argues that computers do not create art, people using computers create art – and despite many decades of procedural and computer-generated art, there has never been a computer widely accepted as the author of an artwork. To date, all “computer-generated art” is the result of human invention, software development, tweaking, and other kinds of direct control and authorship.
He looks at the invention of the camera, and it’s impact on art, as well as procedural or generative artwork, to highlight that while man may use tools and technology to create art, it’s ultimately man that’s the artist. He argues that creating art is a fundamentally social act of expression and communication, and that AI can only be granted authorship when we view the AI as a social agent, and it is performing some communication or sharing through art.
However, as it stands today, no software system in our current understanding could be called an “artist.” Art is a social activity. That being said, there has never been a time in our history where technology has contributed to art than the degree that it does today.
Built in 1999, this is the first mechanical mirror Rosin built. This piece explores the line between digital and physical, using a warm and natural material such as wood to portray the abstract notion of digital pixels.
The worldwide top grossing film of all time (until 2010), Titanic, was digitized from video in its entirety and broken up into its constituent frames. Each of these was then averaged to a single color best representative of that frame and reformatted as a photograph mirroring the narrative sequence of the film. Reading from left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the narrative’s visual rhythm is laid out in pure color.
Bob Sabiston’s Snack and Drink
“Snack and Drink” is an animated documentary short by Bob Sabiston and Tommy Pallotta, starring Ryan Power. This autistic teenager in Austin, Texas walks to a local 7-11 to get a snack and drink. It is rotoscoped with a wild variety of animation styles by different animators.
From Emmy Award winning Oculus Story Studio comes Dear Angelica, a journey through the magical and dreamlike ways we remember our loved ones. Entirely painted by hand inside of VR, Dear Angelica plays out in a series of memories that unfold around you. An immersive, illustrative short story starring Geena Davis and Mae Whitman.
“My Artificial Muse was a three-day performance, where the artist painted a huge model painting using a really classical technique.
The interesting thing is I'm not the one deciding what I'm going to be painting. Instead, it's going to be an artificial intelligence machine, an artificial neural network telling me what I'm going to be painting.
We wanted to completely change the rules in the sense that the machine is doing all the creative parts... and me as a human artist I'm only the executor.”Albert Barqué-DuranMy Artificial Muse
Hertzmann ultimately concludes that art maintains its vitality through continual innovation, and technology is one of the main engines of that innovation.
Occasionally, the avant garde has tremendous cultural impact: electronic music and sampling was once the domain of experimental electronic and musique concrete pioneers, like Wendy Carlos and Delia Darbyshire. Likewise, at one time, computer-animated films could only be seen at obscure short-film festivals.
Today, we are seeing many intriguing and beguiling experiments with AI techniques, and, as artists’ tools, they will surely transform the way we think about art in thrilling and unpredictable ways.