If you’ve got $5k and you like the three things in the title of this post, boy do I know what you should get yourself for the holidays.
Philosopher Nils-Hennes StearNils-Hennes Stear (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) has started Ad Populum, a blog for philosophers to “use the tools of our philosophical training to dissect issues of interest to popular culture writ large, and to demonstrate the usefulness of careful and critical thinking about matters big and small.”
The blog so far features Nils as well as guest posters on topics from Skittles and Syria to the media reception of sports protests. It looks very cool!
The most recent post, especially, might be of interest to AFB readers: “The Comedian as Philosopher, David Chappelle on the Election of Donald Trump” by Michael L. Thomas (Stanford).
Image of Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles courtesy of Jules Antonio via Flickr
A collaboration between ING bank, Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, and the Mauritshuis museum brings us the Next Rembrandt project.
They’ve created an original, Rembrandt-style “painting” created by analyzing existing Rembrandt paintings (colors, head direction, facial composition, etc.).
If this is a taste of what the robot apocalypse will look like, then I guess it seems sort of anticlimactic.
Anyway, if you were curious about how to make the MOST paradigmatic Rembrandt painting, you’d want the following characteristics:
Okay, but so much you probably already knew, without any deep data algorithms. Just with your fleshy meat brain.
But could you do this part?
They did micro-landscape analysis of the brushstrokes and mimicked that, too. Then used “paint-based UV ink” to create the final product with a 3D printer.
And how does it look?
I mean, it looks like a Rembrandt to me. (Some people claim they can tell it’s not authentic. I’m skeptical.) This – like computer-generated poetry – raises a bunch of interesting philosophical questions.
- Is it an artwork?
- Is it a painting?
- Is it an original painting?
- Is there an author? Who is it?
- Is there any creativity involved? Any expression?
- Would it actually be distinguishable, even by experts, from a real Rembrandt? And does that matter?
But most importantly:
- Will this creativity and computer learning lead to robots enslaving humanity?
“You could say that we use technology and data like Rembrandt used his paints and his brushes to create something new.” – Ron Augustus, Director of SMB Markets at Microsoft
I mean, like, you could… but should you?
If you’re curious, check out the video below to see an overview of the project. Much more at the project website.
(Via Core77. Thanks to Noah Greenstein for the pointer.)
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America, and while there are many things to be thankful for (though also many things to be dissatisfied with, to put it mildly), we at AFB would like to take a moment to recognize and celebrate Native American art and people.
Please remember that the conventional Thanksgiving narrative is at best naively and misleadingly incomplete and at worst grossly, perniciously, and irretrievably wrong.
And be aware that Native Americans still fight for recognition, respect, and rights. Be aware of the current Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) situation (see how you can help here). Be aware that while you may be sitting down tomorrow to a meal with family and friends, others will be protesting at the National Day of Mourning in Coles Hill Plymouth, MA and at the Indigenous Peoples’ Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island, CA.
The influence of indigenous cultures on contemporary American culture is immeasurable. So we would like to say thank you, and we stand with you.
If you’d like to get more informed, below the fold are a few links to recent developments in Native American art and the artworld.
Last week, we presented three new diversity curricula supported by the ASA.
Relatedly, here are a few bibliographies people might find useful in trying to assemble diverse course readings, or for those interested in exploring other areas:
- Race and Aesthetics, from the BSA-sponsored Race and Aesthetics Conference last year
- Feminism and Aesthetics (1990-2003), by Joshua James Shaw (Penn State, Behrend)
- Theological Aesthetics, by Laura Smit (Calvin College)
- Marxism & ‘the Left’ in Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics, by Patrick O’Donnell (Independent Scholar)
Image credit: Nicolaes Maes, “An Old Woman Dozing over a Book” (1655), via NGA
For your viewing pleasure, here is the cold open from Saturday Night Live this past weekend. A response to the 2016 election results and Leonard Cohen’s death from the obviously multi-talented artist and comedian, Kate McKinnon:
I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest decade: Waves of anger and fear Circulate over the bright And darkened lands of the earth, Obsessing our private lives; The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night. Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad, Find what occurred at Linz, What huge imago made A psychopathic god: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return. Exiled Thucydides knew All that a speech can say About Democracy, And what dictators do, The elderly rubbish they talk To an apathetic grave; Analysed all in his book, The enlightenment driven away, The habit-forming pain, Mismanagement and grief: We must suffer them all again. Into this neutral air Where blind skyscrapers use Their full height to proclaim The strength of Collective Man, Each language pours its vain Competitive excuse: But who can live for long In an euphoric dream; Out of the mirror they stare, Imperialism’s face And the international wrong. Faces along the bar Cling to their average day: The lights must never go out, The music must always play, All the conventions conspire To make this fort assume The furniture of home; Lest we should see where we are, Lost in a haunted wood, Children afraid of the night Who have never been happy or good. The windiest militant trash Important Persons shout Is not so crude as our wish: What mad Nijinsky wrote About Diaghilev Is true of the normal heart; For the error bred in the bone Of each woman and each man Craves what it cannot have, Not universal love But to be loved alone. From the conservative dark Into the ethical life The dense commuters come, Repeating their morning vow; “I will be true to the wife, I’ll concentrate more on my work," And helpless governors wake To resume their compulsory game: Who can release them now, Who can reach the deaf, Who can speak for the dumb? All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And the lie of Authority Whose buildings grope the sky: There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die. Defenceless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame.
New York City’s Museum of Modern Art is certainly one of the most important and influential art institutions in the USA and the world. MoMA curators throughout the decades have made decisions that have greatly affected the way the artworld and public understand the nature of art.
You can now view all materials from all of MoMA’s exhibitions, beginning with their opening in 1929. Check it out for yourself:
After, or perhaps before, check out a recent article in The Atlantic by Robinson Meyer, “The Museum of Modern Art’s Miraculous New Online Archive”, discussing the aesthetic and functional changes in exhibition documentation throughout the years.
Is Google trolling us? (That or the AI has gotten into really clever commentary.)
New in the “Is It Really Art?” category:
Okay apparently I’m a bit behind the curve on this one, but for those of you who didn’t catch it about a month ago, there was an art show for dogs in London, sponsored by MORE TH>N pet insurance, with artworks designed by Dominic Wilcox. Artnet News writes that “The exhibition is, of course, a marketing gimmick” – but it’s not like there’s no precedent for art that is a marketing gimmick. (*cough* BMW *cough*)
The press release from the RSA Insurance Group reads:
“They say art is for everyone, and while this may be true, the ‘everyone’ mentioned here traditionally refers only to humans. With pets assuming an ever more important role in our lives, isn’t it time that the art world catered to them as well?”
Well I don’t know who “they” are, or if they’re right… but everything about this is hilarious and also makes you wonder…
So for a little dose of philosophy: George Dickie, who defended the Institutional Theory of Art, defined a work of art as “(1) an artifact (2) a set of aspects of which has had conferred upon it the status of candidate for appreciation by some person or persons acting on behalf of a certain social institution (the artworld).”
Hmm. What do you guys think? Can the dogs actually appreciate the art? (Looks like they’re doing it!) Or do they have to appreciate it as art for it to count? Or are we the real audience for this dog art show? (Surely we’re at least the real audience for the marketing ploy.) Or is this a counterexample to Institutional Theories of Art?
Bence Nanay has been guest vlogging at the Brains Blog. The topic this time: Mental imagery and aesthetics.
He discusses “aesthetically relevant properties”: properties that make an aesthetic difference when attended to.
Have a look. It’s the perfect length for watching over a short break from work!