I’ve been busy
I’ve been busy. I’ve been writing a drawing module similar to a very, very simple implementation of Harld Cohen’s AARON.
I emailed Harold Cohen, and got a reply. 🙂
And I’ve been sketching and writing a lot, which hasn’t left much time for a weblog.

Oh, the irony
Compare the figures in a Maloney painting to the figures in an AARON painting. AARON is working hard to reach this state, Maloney is dumbing down to it. AAARON comes from a fondness for painting, figures, and art. I don’t really care where Maloney is coming from. Both ironise the figure through technique, yet ‘s cack-handedness tells us much less about people at the end of the twentieth century than AARON.
It’s the difference between Nu Metal’s not-knowing-enough-to-cover-its-ineptness signifying and electronic music, where you have to find your own soul if any. This potential for representing, ironically, humanity is becoming one of the main things that interests me in making art with technology

Cabinet Of Disinterest
Cabinet paintings are reviled as the precursor of kitsch. Kitsch is reviled by critics. Left-wing critics object to the content of Kitsch, which they regard as saccharine distraction, sentimental, void of social content, worse than null. Right-wing critics object to the form of kitsch; its low quality and therefore its low value. Neither particularly object to the subjects of kitsch. People, animals, scenery, all can be found in high art. If realism is the necessity of the translations required to maintain isomorphism between real-world referents and aesthetic signs, then Kitsch transformations are degenerate, destroying value and reference and substituting low-level self-referential sentimentality. Kitsch is unrealistic, even anti-realistic.

Cabinet paintings are also the precursors of screensavers. Small, personal distractions that ironise their context. Beyond this, it is the screensaver’s avoidance of work for the viewer to do that places it firmly in the category of kitsch. Screensavers need not be kitsch. Julian Opie has made screensavers, and AARON is available as a screensaver. In both cases the relationship of the screensaver and the user to work is what gives the piece value. Opie’s ever-changing abstract landscapes and cubes don’t allow the viewer to rest, finally forcing them to leverage their environmental aesthetic knowledge to complete the work and exercise some degree of control over the experience. The screensaver version of AARON creates original compositions at a frightening rate whenever a computer’s user isn’t doing anything else. It is working, even if the user isn’t.
Critical fetishism of breakthrough and transitional works operates against anything as seemingly prosaic as the screensaver. This should be taken and ironised, or at least parodied.

ae In Progress
Here’s an example of the (very basic) current output from ae, a program I’m writing as a proof-of-concept for the generative principles I mentioned in an earlier posting:

Criterion: emotional Property: medium chroma Weight: -0.990090351373
Criterion: environmental Property: triangle Weight: -0.92098300276
Criterion: environmental Property: smooth Weight: 0.464487999345
Criterion: perceptual Property: pale Weight: -0.42954300998
Criterion: cultural Property: very large Weight: 0.52576391209
Criterion: political Property: oval Weight: -0.824683353734
Criterion: spiritual Property: star Weight: 0.332525761786
Criterion: emotional Property: scribbled Weight: 0.389517234695
Criterion: historical Property: scribbled Weight: -0.394053851375
Criterion: emotional Property: purple Weight: 0.657695420143
Figure: Property: smooth Weight: 0.77514274481 Property: medium sized Weight: 0.804924205912 Property: very small Weight: 0.134779215508 Property: small Weight: 0.998254223669 Property: square Weight: 0.877359494311 Property: triangle Weight: 0.770580597379
Figure: Property: rough Weight: 0.294859738413 Property: smooth Weight: 0.386463663764
Figure: Property: medium sized Weight: 0.257203904622 Property: very large Weight: 0.823282759862 Property: grainy Weight: 0.500935480986
Figure: Property: very large Weight: 0.238379999714 Property: medium chroma Weight: 0.226417026224 Property: large Weight: 0.28003655038 Property: smooth Weight: 0.640733831832 Property: pale Weight: 0.0949973486808 Property: scribbled Weight: 0.306013047604 Property: red Weight: 0.3334115855
Figure: Property: spiral Weight: 0.225828900109 Property: dark Weight: 0.67675402324 Property: oval Weight: 0.00497709246932 Property: small Weight: 0.66997465332
Figure: Property: circle Weight: 0.861863092243
Figure: Property: very small Weight: 0.511500266605 Property: star Weight: 0.633589779492 Property: scribbled Weight: 0.857063666956
Figure: Property: rich Weight: 0.764279205804 Property: smooth Weight: 0.933009749928 Property: line Weight: 0.440738562043 Property: star Weight: 0.319753143385 Property: very small Weight: 0.703559370589 Property: medium sized Weight: 0.110725644256 Property: bright Weight: 0.684350809239 Property: rough Weight: 0.938225240413
Evaluation: environmental – smooth -> 0.360044502743
Evaluation: environmental – triangle -> -0.709691632443
Evaluation: environmental – smooth -> 0.179507734001
Evaluation: cultural – very large -> 0.432852364581
Evaluation: cultural – very large -> 0.125331601214
Evaluation: emotional – medium chroma -> -0.224173313051
Evaluation: environmental – smooth -> 0.29761317566
Evaluation: perceptual – pale -> -0.0408054470924
Evaluation: emotional – scribbled -> 0.119197356083
Evaluation: historical – scribbled -> -0.120585619979
Evaluation: political – oval -> -0.00410452530944
Evaluation: spiritual – star -> 0.210684924085
Evaluation: emotional – scribbled -> 0.33384106951
Evaluation: historical – scribbled -> -0.337729238838
Evaluation: environmental – smooth -> 0.433371832113
Evaluation: spiritual – star -> 0.106326157588
Score: 1.16168094087

In cultural studies, all the world’s a text and all the men and women in it are but signifiers. Art is a poor cousin of text, as text is more like text than art is.
In computing, when a program is copied from memory to a disk so it can be restored later, it’s called an image. When an entire computer disk is copied for a backup or to be moved to another computer, it’s called an image (or sometimes a mirror). Programs do have “TEXT” sections, but those aren’t the important bits.
So hackers have got it right, anyway. 🙂

Creative AI
Margaret Boden described true, historically-unprecedented creativity (“H-Creativity”) as adding an additional dimension to the search space (I think – I’m paraphrasing badly here). Everyone should read “The Creative Mind”, especially me as I can’t remember the section I want to quote from. 🙂

Edward DeBono describes creativity as “making novel associations” IIRC, and came up with a theory of how this works in the 1960s. I recommend “Serious Creativity” as a good introduction to his work. His techniques will be familiar to the artificial creativity researcher: random association, conceptual slippage, working backwards, etc., but he describes them for human beings to use rather than AIs.

Douglas Hofstadter describes a system that build, rebuilds, analyses and operates on its own descriptions of its problem space in “Fluid Analogies”.

There is no reason why we cannot create an AI (or whatever) that combines these approaches. If we take a set of weighted low-level concepts (like role-playing game skills: strong 75, blue 11, breakable 4, bendy 120), assemble sets of them to describe concepts, map these onto points in the search space and then allow the search space and the concepts to be modified we’re away. The Tony Buzan book with the 40,000 concept personal memory system indexed on what look like AOL passwords might be a good model for a re-mappable memory space that allows novel associations.

So how do you modify the search space? How do you add an extra dimension? Well, it depends what you regard as a dimension. And there’s the problem that creating new state spaces to search becomes a state space search for state spaces, at which point I have to confess that there’s no escape. 🙂 Two schemes for adding dimensions spring to mind. The first is just to encode the entire state space in a one-dimensional array. Extra dimensions become extra slices of the array, which is grown to accommodate them. The other is to take the “a bicycle is seven dimensional object” view and declare the search space’s dimensions to be the combinations of atomic concepts that values can be assigned to. It’s easy to see how to change the dimensions in this scheme, even if to a non-mathematician like me it feels like cheating. 🙂

Dave Bausola recommended “Processing” to me. Processing is the sequel to DBN, and if you know java or JavaScript/ActionScript you already know it. Ed from Soda is using it to write moovl, the sequel to SodaPlay.
I’ve had it on my hard disk for a while now but I’d not really had a look at it. It took me all of an hour to be writing three-dimensional animations in it this evening. I’ll be converting The Cybernetic Artwork Nobody Wrote to Processing, and I think I’ll do Ghosts/Subjects using it as well.

Check whether that small label is just a front for a megacorp.:
RIAA Tracker
Find similar groups to old favourites:

Genetic Aesthetic Determinism
NewScientist is asking whether we all inhabit the same sensory universe (“In The Realm Of Your Senses”, 31/1/04). Yes, that old chestnut. There’s interesting new evidence on genetic variations in the senses such as taste and smell. And of course we learn from our senses, so this may have some bearing on the construction of our self.
But, as NewScientist recognises, once you get the data from your senses you have to process it. And then all bets are off. The processing may vary genetically, or the brain may converge on a coherent and normalised view of the world.
I wouldn’t mind having orange-receptive eye cones, though, which are a very uncommon bit of genetics. I think I have trouble with orange. I can see it, but I’m never convinced I’m seeing what everybody else is seeing. I tend to see a reddy yellow or a yellowy red, very rarely an orange. Maybe it’s just a mental block from one of my tutors accusing me of being colour blind one time when I was using deliberately horrible colours. I can see the numbers, anyway…