Generative Art Projects

draw-something fun

One of the motivations for draw-something was my memory of my younger self’s desire to make a program that was better at art than they were. This was an ambition born of cyberpunk literature and media and of the utter incomprehensibility of perspective instruction books to me at that time.

draw-something is not better at art than I am. Art Computing courses should teach their students on day one the difference between static technical competence and dynamic artistic practice. AARON is part of a dynamic artistic practice but is not a producer of dynamic artistic practice, Harold Cohen is. As a child I had a book featuring an illustration of AARON at work. It made a lasting impression.

draw-something is not better at drawing than I am. draw-something does imitate my drawing style at the micro level very well, it captures my “hand”. Or I have captured my hand in it. I have tried to do so in a way that models the physical failings of my drawing style rather than just wobbling lines after they have been generated.

What draw-something is much better than me at is just have fun with shape and colour. Opponents of Artificial Intelligence will You don’t have to be an opponent of Artificial Intelligence to will point out that draw-something isn’t actually having fun. But performatively speaking something is. The fun is there. Possibly it’s me, sublimating this into draw-something. But then I wouldn’t have that precise kind of fun otherwise, and I’m not having it as draw-something is not-having it.

Both proponents and opponents of AI, and most right-thinking artists and critics, will cringe at the mention of something as nebulous as “fun”. Which makes me think I might be on to something. 😉

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2 replies on “draw-something fun”

I think there are even proponents of AI who would question whether draw something is having fun. 🙂
What would draw something (or AARON) have to do to be seen as producing dynamic artistic practice?

I have edited the post to reflect that even I don’t actually believe that draw-something is “having fun”. And I’m pro-strong-AI. 😉
To produce “dynamic artistic practice” AARON would have to create AARONs. It would have to do what Harold Cohen does; set immediate and long term goals, create systems, evaluate results, reflect on its achievements and work this meta-knowledge into its goals and systems.
This sounds like the sort of goalpost-moving that has always plagued AI. If a computer can play chess then chess playing must not be a sign of intelligence… But this would be relatively simple to achieve given a system of axiomatic graphical microdomains and a Lisp-style function composition system.
This approach is the one that Douglas Hofstadter and FARG took: find a simple task that is representative of an aspect of creative behaviour and then analyze it in depth.
AARON, like any painter, just pushes pigments around in 2D. It’s a historically sufficient aesthetic domain in which to create and evaluate constraints or axioms.
It may even generate historically novel techical practice, Margaret Boden’s “h-creativity”. But this wouldn’t be necessary to satisfy the requirements of “dynamic artistic production”, as Damien Hirst’s appropriations show.
So I’m not making a ridiculous demand of an AARON-like system. This behaviour could be shown by a fairly simple system, although to be aesthetically as well as conceptually satisfying it would need to be more complex.

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