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Byron Rich

ART Habens

and changing quite drastically. I think in its current stage it is barely scratching the surface of its potential. I was walking down a corridor during grad school and saw all this work on the walls, and it all seemed so formulaic, which it was, as it was undergrad work based on strict criteria. I began to ponder whether or not a computer could randomly produce those pieces simply by generating colors and assigning them to pixels. The old thousand monkeys in a room, eventually they’ll write Shakespeare or some such thing. I didn’t know how to approach it, so I asked my studio mate, Bobby Gryzynger, and he threw out some ideas on how it could come about. After a few days he had put together this rather simple processing sketch that became PBN. Like APS, a person fundamentally designs the system and has and it has an enormous degree of subjectivity built in. That’s what I’m working on removing now. When I ponder whether a computer can play a creative role, I tend to think it can set up parameters for creativity. I’ll give you one of my favorite examples. Charles Bukowski had an old Apple computer. He began using it to write poetry. The simple word processor had some auto-format functionality, and rather than fight against it, Bukowski embraced it. The old Apple became a collaborator of sorts. Was it a conscious creator? Obviously not, but did it play a role in the development and ultimate interpretation of the work? Certainly. So I guess it becomes more of a philosophical question: Does something need consciousness to be creative? I worry that creativity is overfetishized by those who want to put humanity on a pedestal. Will a computer ever be able to be unequivocally conscious? I don’t know. I think this stuff with the Neural Networks is an interesting foray into it, however it is still fraught with philosophical questions. And therein lies the power of art: Being a catalyst for brining these enormous questions into the light. I think art, like science, should be probing the ultimate questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? What does it mean to be

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Summer 2015

Profile for ART Habens

ART Habens Contemporary Art Review // Special Issue  

ART Habens Contemporary Art Review // Special Issue  

Profile for arthabens