Gongol.com Archives: March 2024

Brian Gongol

March 14, 2024

Computers and the Internet Artistic impression

For Americans, the go-to question for making small talk is "What do you do?", as in, "What is your occupation?". It's generally inoffensive, and it's common enough that everyone has a ready answer (including, most of the time, some means of gently pivoting the question to another subject). ■ We might be a more interesting culture, though, if we asked a less obvious question, but one with much richer potential: "What is your art?" Humans are far from being the only animals who make art: There have been some famous examples of animals creating art in captivity, but there are even examples of birds and fish apparently creating aesthetic works intentionally and with no evidence of meaningful reward other than internal satisfaction. ■ Every well-rounded person is at least a consumer of some form of art, if not also a producer. Some collect paintings, others attend concerts, and still others become movie buffs. But, particularly with the recent -- and in some ways stunning -- emergence of computer-aided art, it's almost difficult to avoid creating some kind of art from time to time. ■ Commercial interests are encouraging people to explore in ways that go far beyond selling paint-by-numbers kits. Samsung is touting smartphone photos taken from the edge of space. Lego sells user-generated portraits as brick mosaics. Event spaces where people gather to drink and paint with friends are franchised nationwide. ■ And given the rapidly-improving capabilities of artificial intelligence tools to make original music and create lavish digital images from words, it's almost impossible to escape the impression that we are on the verge of being immersed in literally as much art as we can handle. Just buy a dual-use television set/picture frame and the family room becomes an art gallery. ■ None of this displaces old ways of creating art, either; anyone can still make analog art from needlepoint to elaborate baked goods. Perhaps, then, it is past time to begin assuming that the art we create (or simply appreciate) is a better starting point for conversation than what we are paid to do.

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