20. On Artificial Art
art. pattern. knowledge. understanding.
analogy. configuration. transformation. opart. new and
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Essay 20. On Artificial Art
I am going to make a picture that may pass as art if neatly framed.
My art is not real. It is artificial. It may seem even more artful than real art. Or less. In the realm of art, a consensus on value judgments can only be posthumous.
Art consists of relatively contained areas defined through periods, geography, movements, and schools (note a similarity with philosophy). One of them is Op Art.
(Optical art). Here is an example: Cherry Autumn by Bridget Riley.
Here is a big name
in abstract art: Orange and Yellow by Mark
I start with a closed curve built on 9 points:
I can edit the curve by moving the points. When I move the points, they drag a part of the curve with them. What I want to preserve is:
1. The curve is closed.
The rest—position in the plane, size, color, fill, etc., (the Draw has a lot of nice functions)—will remain unchanged.
Next, I am going to edit points by moving them
along the arrows. I call this change Transformation
1. It will define a new Curve 2.
Transformation 1: Curve 2:
I can frame some intermediate results of my work on
Picture 1: points of the Curve 1 and Curve 2,
which I will call (because the frame makes the
picture) Picture 2 and Picture 3:
In these two pictures I do not show the curve. The "full-filled" pictures consisting of closed filled curves can be called realistic, as if we lived in a world populated by closed curves.
Picture 2 can be called impressionist. It
contains some elements of Curve 1 —points—in a
stylized and exaggerated form of colored circles.
Still, it clearly hints to Curve 1.
By making small incremental changes in the positions of the points, either one by one, or several at once, I can produce an infinite series of realistic curvaceous Rubensean pictures or equally large collections of their "impressionist" derivatives.
Picture 3 completely breaks away with realism and
portrays points for their own sake, so that the
curve behind the points is left to the viewer's
imagination. If most viewers could agree on
connecting the points of Picture 2, they would
sharply disagree regarding Picture 3. For some of
them there would be no reason why the points should
be connected by a single closed curve, and they
would connect them like stars in constellations.
The relationship between art and reality is analogous to ...analogy.
The three pictures, therefore, represent three indefinitely large families of pictures: filled curves, points that unambiguously suggest curves, and points that suggest either a multitude of connections by closed curves and/or open lines or a complete disconnectedness ( I could call Picture 2 No exit and Picture 3 Solitude). These families are patterns.
While whole libraries are written on art and artists, describing their style, mutual evolutionary relations, and various idiosyncrasies, each of my styles (and, I believe, any modern style) is defined in a very precise way by:
1. Lego of building blocks (generators). It is stored in the Draw software. It consists of points, lines, fills, and transitions from one to another.
2. Rules of regularity of connections that tell which combinations of generators (configurations) are allowed and which are out of whack. For example, the rules may state that only single closed curves are regular, although a huge variety of other pictures can be created from the same generators .
of one picture into another (point editing, color
and fill change), that preserves some
properties, for example, property of being a closed
curve or a set of points, so that all pictures
within the pattern are similar. Technically, the
transformation here is a multitude of arrows:
Such transformations are mathematically
Frame. Without a frame, it is not a picture
and no one will buy it.
The four aspects define a pattern. If we compare pictures 2 and 3, considering picture 2 regular, we may say that picture 3 is irregular (the reverse may not be true). We can, however, consider a different pattern where both are regular.
The picture by Bridget Riley is a spectrum-like
series of thin vertical colored
by Bridget Riley). Riley was among the
founders of Op Art and her striking pictures of the
60's seem to anticipate computer drawing.
Pictures by Rembrandt
show human faces and figures. Remarkably, it is very
difficult to describe Rembrandt's pattern, but his
paintings are impossible to be mixed with anybody
else's. Their description would involve such words
as humanism, compassion, depth, artistry, drama,
tragedy, passion, richness, psychology, etc. He went
through a dramatic evolution in his life and
All pictures within a pattern are different,
but not exactly new. The very first few pictures of
previously unknown pattern are new. The
subsequent ones are different.
By applying the same technique, I made the following picture:Unfortunately, I cannot afford a good frame, and so this is not really art. Let's call it a study in similarity.
I hope this Essay demonstrates the difference between knowledge and understanding. Knowledge can be true or not if checked against reality. Scientific knowledge must not contradict experiment. Knowledge in humanities must not contradict sources, observations, and, if possible, experiments. Knowledge of technology is judged by the successful production.
I perceive original philosophy as art that uses ideas as building material. Not accidentally, every philosopher since Kant invents his own vocabulary like an artist who introduces a new technique. Philosophers influence each other like artists and form school, but for them to speak a common language would be a disaster, like two ladies wearing the same dress at a party.
Understanding (which, as I believe, is the primary
goal of college education), gives the structure of
knowledge in a certain area, i.e., the map of
knowledge. Thus, the above 8 (or more) aspects of
art are such a map, a pattern that can be filled up
with different knowledge, true or false, about
different artists, with gaps or extras.
Understanding is a framework, a pattern.
Art is one of a few things that cannot be false. Whether it is always true is questionable, but in a different sense. In nature and art we find a sweet breather from the daily fretting over "true or false?"
High art invents patterns. Low art invents
I have always been deeply intrigued by the mystery
of the transformation of art between the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries, starting with the
impressionists and up to Marcel Duchamp, Robert
Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.
This is a symbol of
1. My pattern ideas are borrowed from Pattern Theory of Ulf Grenander: Ulf Grenander, Elements of Pattern Theory, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
Page created: 2001 Revised: 2016
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Essay 60: http://spirospero.net/artandnexistence.pdf