17 Comments

The replies you got on Linkedin cracked me up! “You are no artist in the professional sense: nobody would pay you.” 🤣🤣

I sense a lot of fear and anxiety in those answers. Fear that what I enjoy doing and is my livelihood will be “taken away” from me.

Completely agree that there is art in software development. We previously discussed how good technical documentation is a work of art (both the writing and the visuals). Good code and design is also a work of art — some of the libraries written by my colleagues were fun to work with, others were soul crushing.

I want to test whether I can engage constructively on other platforms with people who hold completely different viewpoints on polarizing issues. I have just started posting on both r/climatechange and r/climateskeptics. We’ll see how that goes!

Expand full comment
Jul 14, 2023Liked by Michael Woudenberg

An artist should be someone who simply participates in and appreciates creative processes. But a lot of them don’t appreciate it if there’s too much competition. If you want to categorize people in skill groups and identify every sort of tool that can be used in fairness… that would make it a sport.

But right now we have it that an artist is someone who blames everything else for not being able to compete in the same heat as literally hundreds of millions of other artists with or without the assist of technology. And that’s called natural selection.

Expand full comment
Nov 19, 2023Liked by Michael Woudenberg

As a programmer and artist, the comments about programming are a little annoying. These people don't know what they don't know about programming. If it consisted mainly of typing and copypasting from StackOverflow in a methodical, mindless way we programmers would have already automated it and put ourselves out of a job. They are committing the same sin as programmers who don't do art and think they can automate it away with elaborate statistical models and procedural generation.

All that machine learning will accomplish if used as a substitute for programmers *or* artists is a devastating ladder-pull that will ensure when we retire or die there's nobody to replace us in doing the hard stuff that happens beyond acquisition of basic technique.

Expand full comment
Nov 19, 2023·edited Nov 19, 2023Liked by Michael Woudenberg

"He’s right, there’s even a book on the topic called Steal Like an Artist which shows how art is really derivative, combinatorial, and mimicry."

This is what I would call the fallacy of post modernism. But it is incorrect sometimes genuine breakthroughs occur that are not based on a previous style of art, example impressionism, cubism, surrealism, were not prefigured by earlier styles of art. And this isn't even to get into artists whose style is so unique that it transcends genres like William Blake, Goya, Joan Miro, etc.

Then too there is what I call the portfolio problem of AI art, which is even if a human using a prompt creates an individual compelling piece of art, it will never create a compelling portfolio of art that has a unique style that evolves over time, why? Two reasons:

1. The artist has no real control of what the AI produces it's always something of a surprise, your cannot develop a vision if you have no real control over the style.

2. The Ai itself is certainly not developing a portfolio in LLM language models it is merely responding to individual prompts using a weighted neural network and piecing together a collage with no coherent long term artistic vision of a unique individual under-girding it. A long term vision requires a self reflective I to generate, and LLMs have no self reflective I.

Without a portfolio there is no genius, only one offs and commercial art.

Expand full comment
Jul 2, 2023Liked by Michael Woudenberg

Your social media reactions remind me of an excerpt from an article I'm working on for next week:

"When the camera rose to popular use in the 1800s, some, like Edgar Allen Poe, hailed it “perhaps the most extraordinary triumph of modern science” (Poe 1980, 37).

Others, like critic Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, couldn’t conceive photography as art because of its mechanical process. Poet Charles Baudelaire denigrated it as lunacy: “Our loathsome society rushed, like Narcissus, to contemplate its trivial image on the metallic plate. A form of lunacy, an extraordinary fanaticism took hold of these new sun-worshippers” (Baudelaire 1980, 86-87)."

Baudelaire doubled down: “If photography is allowed to deputize some of art’s activities, it will not be long before it has supplanted or corrupted art altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the masses, its natural ally” (Baudelaire 1980, 88).

Swap “AI” for “photography” and the criticism of 1823 sounds like 2023.

Expand full comment