Blank Slate is “project zero” for Case Greenfield. Inspired by neuro-scientist Steven Pinker the artworks of this project express how a (proverbial) blank slate in art is impossible. “We, artists, all stand on the shoulders of giants.”
From the first cave artists in the stone age, Davinci, Bosch, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Klimt, up to Picasso, of course Duchamp, De Kooning, and even Koons or Basquiat. We, artists have been influenced by our predecessors. Again and again. Let it be our mission to bring art a step further. A giant leap. Just like they did.
The project evolves around the model in many an artist’s mind of being completely original in their creativity. They are not. We are not. No artist ever is. There is no 100% originality in our brain. Try it yourself: think of something, anything, that does not exist of one element of existing things or ideas. All artists are connected through ideas, inspiring each-other in an ever-evolving artistic continuum. As artists, we stand on the shoulders of giants. In a way, the Blank Slate project also is a tribute to those giants.
So, we want to stand out, be original, independent, free. How to deal with this? Are our artistic theme and voice all we have? And moreover, as human beings, can we be ‘special’, are we entitled to feel special, what does ‘status’ mean, where does it come from?
(August 21, 2021) Case:
After writing the story “AI Art? Quantum Art” it suddenly dawned at me why the Blank Slate art project is so extremely relevant. Intuitively, I must have felt this when I started this project. Now, I can express it in words.
It refers to the question, whether AI, Artificial Intelligence can be creative. Because of how AI works. All it does is recognize patterns in data and recognize/continue those patterns (like linear regression). In other words, whatever AI ‘creates’ was already in the pattern of the data. Not creative, one would say.
But then, the Blank Slate question arises: how creative is the human brain, really? Doesn’t every artist, however famous or ‘brilliant’ (whatever that is) or ‘creative’ (whatever that is, too) ultimately build upon the work of their predecessors? More of the same. Add a little twist, add a personal voice and continue that a life long (in an almost autistic way)? I’d say for 99% of all artists that is certainly true.
So, how about the 1%? The Jheronimus Bosch’s, Vincent van Gogh’s, the Marcel Duchamp’s, the Marc Chagall’s, the Salvador Dali’s? The misfits, the square pegs in a round hole? How creative were they, really? Creative, as in “create something that didn’t exist before, as a whole or pieces of it”?
And, can Artificial Intelligence ever be creative in that sense? Or even, can it be creative it the way Bosch, Van Gogh, Duchamp, Chagall and Dali were creative (if we call them ‘creative’)?
I guess, in the first place it comes down to the question how we define ‘creative’. What percentage, if you will, of the work has to be new? And how do we define ‘new’? Can a new combination of existing elements be considered new, hence creative? If so, can the continuation of a pattern (in data, for instance) that results in a new configuration – of spats of paint on a canvas (eg. Deep Art), for instance, or of words in a text (eg. Verse by Verse) – be considered creative?
And if so, when do we call such a creative ‘continuation of pattern into a new configuration’ art? When we like it, when we find it beautiful, when someone is willing to pay for it, when it becomes famous, when it is exposed in a museum, when … art experts say it is art?
Or is it all going to be a matter of new interpretation, like Duchamp did: “no absolute truth in art; no juries, no rejections”. The beholder’s share: creative is whatever I feel is creative, and art is whatever gets paid (millions) for … the end of art as we knew it?
Whether created or supported by an AI system, based on quantum, realized or performed by machines or … traditionally created by a craftsman human being with a fantastic human (hopeful), it is the narrative that makes it a form of art again. Human interpretation, the personal touch, the story makes it 21st Century art! Warm grounding!
So, for the artist, not being 100% original simply isn’t the key point. On the contrary! Letting it go releases us from a self imposed mantra. By being who you are as an artist, not afraid to express yourself, being pure in your creative process, putting your ideas on paper, canvas or whatever, the artist can bring his own personal touch that, together with the social context, physical and other realities, makes it modern 21st Century art. All types of realities combined! Original or not, personal art, human art, ‘story art’, ‘narrative art’ or, better, simply just … art!