Special Issue "The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century)"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Frederic Fol Leymarie

Professor, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London, London SE14 6NW, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: computer vision and computer graphics; AI; machine learning and creativity; artistically skillful robots; interactive platforms for the biosciences; intersection of the visual arts and live performances with computing, perception, and robots
Editorial Assistant
Mr. G. W. Smith

Founder, Space Machines Corporation, 3443 Esplanade Avenue, Suite 438, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: art; arts and technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the understanding that art, science and technology are continuing to experience an historic and rapidly intensifying rapprochement—but with the understanding as well that accounts thereof have tended to be constrained by scientific/engineering rigor on the one hand, or have tended to swing to the opposite extreme—it is the goal of this special issue of Arts to provide an opportunity for artists, humanists, scientists, and engineers to consider this development from the broader perspective which it deserves, while at the same time retaining a focus on what must surely be the emerging core of our subject: the state of the art in mechatronics and computation is such that we can now begin to speak comfortably of the machine as artist—and we can begin to hope, as well, that an aesthetic sensitivity on the part of the machine might help lead to a friendlier and more sensitive machine intelligence in general.

We invite potential contributors to submit written reports on their experiments, thoughts, new results, experiences at the crossings of art, science and technology, to be considered by our review panel.

Dr. Frederic Fol Leymarie
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • art
  • science
  • technology
  • artificial intelligence
  • aesthetics
  • empathy
  • embodiment
  • creativity

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Robot Art: An Interview with Leonel Moura
Received: 16 July 2018 / Accepted: 16 July 2018 / Published: 18 July 2018
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Abstract
In the wake of his inclusion in the landmark 2018 “Artists and Robots” show at the Grand Palais in Paris, Leonel Moura reflects herein on his own work and its place within the broad spectrum of techno-art; and of particular current interest is [...] Read more.
In the wake of his inclusion in the landmark 2018 “Artists and Robots” show at the Grand Palais in Paris, Leonel Moura reflects herein on his own work and its place within the broad spectrum of techno-art; and of particular current interest is his reliance as an artist on emergent phenomenon—i.e., the ability of relatively simple systems to exhibit relatively complex and unexpected capabilities—which has recently come back into focus with the spectacular ability of the “deep learning” family of computer algorithms to perform pattern recognition tasks unthinkable only a few years ago. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Research

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Open AccessArticle Pursuit and Expression of Japanese Beauty Using Technology
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
We have been working on the creation of media art, utilizing technologies. In this paper, we have focused on media art created based on the visualization of fluid behaviors. This area is named “fluid dynamics” and there has been a variety of research [...] Read more.
We have been working on the creation of media art, utilizing technologies. In this paper, we have focused on media art created based on the visualization of fluid behaviors. This area is named “fluid dynamics” and there has been a variety of research in this area. However, most of the visualization results of the fluid dynamics show only stable fluid behaviors and a lack of unstable or, in other words, unpredictable behaviors that would be significant in the creation of art. To create various unstable or unpredictable fluid behaviors, we have developed and introduced several new methods to control fluid behaviors and created two media arts called “Sound of Ikebana” and “Genesis”. Interestingly, people find and feel that there is Japanese beauty in these media arts, although they are created based on a natural phenomenon. This paper proposes the basic concept of media art based on the visualization of fluid dynamics and describes details of the methods that were developed by us to create unpredictable fluid dynamics-based phenomena. Also, we will discuss the relationship between Japanese beauty and physical phenomena represented by fluid dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle Can Machines Be Artists? A Deweyan Response in Theory and Practice
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
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Abstract
To speak comfortably of the machine artist (as outlined in the call for papers for this Special Issue) makes key assumptions about what it is to be an artist. It assumes, for instance, that the experience of living as an artist, which includes [...] Read more.
To speak comfortably of the machine artist (as outlined in the call for papers for this Special Issue) makes key assumptions about what it is to be an artist. It assumes, for instance, that the experience of living as an artist, which includes the socialisation, hard work, single-mindedness, and focused energy of creative activity, is incidental rather than essential since these aspects are not comfortably applicable to machines. Instead, it supposes that what is essential is the artistic product, and it is the similarity of human and machine products that makes it possible to speak of machine artists. This definition of art in terms of products is supported by modern psychological theories of creativity, defined as the generation of novel ideas which give rise to valuable products. These ideas take place in the mind or brain, regarded as a closed system within whose workings the secret of creativity will eventually be revealed. This is the framework of what is widely referred to as “cognitivism”. This definition in terms of novel ideas and valuable products has been widely assumed by artificial intelligence (AI) and computational creativity (CC), and this has been backed up through a particular version of the Turing Test. In this, a machine can be said to be a creative artist if its products cannot be distinguished from human art. However, there is another psychological view of creativity, that of John Dewey, in which a lived experience of inquiry and focus is essential to being creative. In this theory, creativity is a function of the whole person interacting with the world, rather than originating in the brain. This makes creativity a Process rather than a Cognitivist framework. Of course, the brain is crucial in a Process theory, but as part of an open system which includes both body and environment. Developments in “machine art” have been seen as spectacular and are widely publicised. But there may be a danger that these will distract from what we take to be the most exciting prospect of all. This is the contribution of computer technology to stimulate, challenge, and provoke artistic practice of all forms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
Open AccessArticle Can Artificial Intelligence Make Art without Artists? Ask the Viewer
Received: 1 January 2019 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 18 March 2019
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Abstract
The question of whether machines can make art provokes very different answers from pioneers in the field. Harold Cohen refuses to ascribe creativity to his art-making robot AARON, while Leonel Moura argues that since his “Artbots” generate pictures from emergent properties that could [...] Read more.
The question of whether machines can make art provokes very different answers from pioneers in the field. Harold Cohen refuses to ascribe creativity to his art-making robot AARON, while Leonel Moura argues that since his “Artbots” generate pictures from emergent properties that could not have been predicted by their creator, “they have at least some degree of creativity.” Although the question of whether machines can be artists seems to fall squarely on our definition of the latter, a solution to this philosophical impasse may ironically lie in redirecting the question away from the artist and toward the viewer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
Open AccessArticle Drawing in the Digital Age: Observations and Implications for Education
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract
This paper looks at recent examples of how drawing is advancing into the digital age: in London: the annual symposium on Thinking Through Drawing; in Paris: an exhibition at the Grand Palais, Artistes et Robots; a conference at the Institut d’études [...] Read more.
This paper looks at recent examples of how drawing is advancing into the digital age: in London: the annual symposium on Thinking Through Drawing; in Paris: an exhibition at the Grand Palais, Artistes et Robots; a conference at the Institut d’études avancées on Space-Time Geometries and Movement in the Brain and in the Arts; and, at the Drawing Lab, Cinéma d’Été. These events are contrasted to a recent decline in drawing instruction in pre-professional programs of art, architecture, and design as well as in pre-K12 art education due largely to the digital revolution. In response, I argue for the ongoing importance of learning to draw both in visual art and in general education at all levels in the digital age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle The Machine as Artist as Myth
Received: 4 January 2019 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
The essay proposes an art–historical contextualisation of the notion of the “machine as artist”. It argues that the art–theoretical tropes raised by current speculations on artworks created by autonomous technical systems have been inherent to debates on modern and postmodern art throughout the [...] Read more.
The essay proposes an art–historical contextualisation of the notion of the “machine as artist”. It argues that the art–theoretical tropes raised by current speculations on artworks created by autonomous technical systems have been inherent to debates on modern and postmodern art throughout the 20th century. Moreover, the author suggests that the notion of the machine derives from a mythological narrative in which humans and technical systems are rigidly figured as both proximate and antagonistic. The essay develops a critical perspective onto this ideological formation and elucidates its critique in a discussion of a recent series of artworks and a text by US American artist Trevor Paglen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
Open AccessArticle Self-Improving Robotic Brushstroke Replication
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 10 November 2018 / Published: 21 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (9124 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Painting robots, like e-David, are currently unable to create precise strokes in their paintings. We present a method to analyse given brushstrokes and extract their trajectory and width using a brush behaviour model and photographs of strokes painted by humans. Within the process, [...] Read more.
Painting robots, like e-David, are currently unable to create precise strokes in their paintings. We present a method to analyse given brushstrokes and extract their trajectory and width using a brush behaviour model and photographs of strokes painted by humans. Within the process, the robot experiments autonomously with different brush trajectories to improve the reproduction results, which are precise within a few millimetres for strokes up to 100 millimetres length. The method can be generalised to other robotic tasks with imprecise tools and visible results, like polishing or milling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle Waves to Waveforms: Performing the Thresholds of Sensors and Sense-Making in the Anthropocene
Received: 1 September 2018 / Revised: 25 October 2018 / Accepted: 27 October 2018 / Published: 30 October 2018
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Abstract
This paper details the technical and conceptual background for the developing art project Waveform. This project is a creative-critical meditation on the role of digital sensors in monitoring and representing environmental change. It explores the origins and functioning of the global sensory [...] Read more.
This paper details the technical and conceptual background for the developing art project Waveform. This project is a creative-critical meditation on the role of digital sensors in monitoring and representing environmental change. It explores the origins and functioning of the global sensory architectures used to detect and assess these changes, deconstructing the connotations of omniscience, abstraction, and control associated with the ‘top-down’, data-driven mappings they generate. In so doing, Waveform enacts a speculative instance of how digital sensors can highlight the ambiguities and tensions of life in an increasingly damaged ecology. This experimental aspect involves capturing images of coastal shorelines using an airborne camera drone, and then analysing these using software that maps the outlines of incoming waves. The resulting data is then processed by software that generates text resembling free-verse poetry. These steps are not autonomous, and are subject to human intervention at each stage, with the generated poems being curated so as to engage themes concerning coast, a changing climate, and scientific knowledge-making. The outcome is an assemblage of artefacts, processes, and representations that can suggest alternative narratives of sensing and sense-making, so as to better apprehend the complexities of the present moment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle On Hybrid Creativity
Received: 2 May 2018 / Revised: 20 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 9 July 2018
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Abstract
This article reviews the development of the author’s computational art practice, where the computer is used both as a device that provides the medium for generation of art (‘computer as art’) as well as acting actively as an assistant in the process of [...] Read more.
This article reviews the development of the author’s computational art practice, where the computer is used both as a device that provides the medium for generation of art (‘computer as art’) as well as acting actively as an assistant in the process of creating art (‘computer as artist’s assistant’), helping explore the space of possibilities afforded by generative systems. Drawing analogies with Kasparov’s Advanced Chess and the deliberate development of unstable aircraft using fly-by-wire technology, the article argues for a collaborative relationship with the computer that can free the artist to more fearlessly engage with the challenges of working with emergent systems that exhibit complex unpredictable behavior. The article also describes ‘Species Explorer’, the system the author has created in response to these challenges to assist exploration of the possibilities afforded by parametrically driven generative systems. This system provides a framework to allow the user to use a number of different techniques to explore new parameter combinations, including genetic algorithms, and machine learning methods. As the system learns the artist’s preferences the relationship with the computer can be considered to change from one of assistance to collaboration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle Choreographic and Somatic Approaches for the Development of Expressive Robotic Systems
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 14 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
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Abstract
As robotic systems are moved out of factory work cells into human-facing environments questions of choreography become central to their design, placement, and application. With a human viewer or counterpart present, a system will automatically be interpreted within context, style of movement, and [...] Read more.
As robotic systems are moved out of factory work cells into human-facing environments questions of choreography become central to their design, placement, and application. With a human viewer or counterpart present, a system will automatically be interpreted within context, style of movement, and form factor by human beings as animate elements of their environment. The interpretation by this human counterpart is critical to the success of the system’s integration: “knobs” on the system need to make sense to a human counterpart; an artificial agent should have a way of notifying a human counterpart of a change in system state, possibly through motion profiles; and the motion of a human counterpart may have important contextual clues for task completion. Thus, professional choreographers, dance practitioners, and movement analysts are critical to research in robotics. They have design methods for movement that align with human audience perception; they can help identify simplified features of movement that will effectively accomplish human-robot interaction goals; and they have detailed knowledge of the capacity of human movement. This article provides approaches employed by one research lab, specific impacts on technical and artistic projects within, and principles that may guide future such work. The background section reports on choreography, somatic perspectives, improvisation, the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System, and robotics. From this context methods including embodied exercises, writing prompts, and community building activities have been developed to facilitate interdisciplinary research. The results of this work are presented as an overview of a smattering of projects in areas like high-level motion planning, software development for rapid prototyping of movement, artistic output, and user studies that help understand how people interpret movement. Finally, guiding principles for other groups to adopt are posited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessArticle Algorithmic Art Machines
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 8 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (438 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article reviews the author’s personal development in relation to art made by algorithmic machines and discusses both the nature of such systems and the future implications for art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Other

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Open AccessEssay Art, Creativity, and the Potential of Artificial Intelligence
Received: 2 January 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 21 February 2019
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Abstract
Our essay discusses an AI process developed for making art (AICAN), and the issues AI creativity raises for understanding art and artists in the 21st century. Backed by our training in computer science (Elgammal) and art history (Mazzone), we argue for the consideration [...] Read more.
Our essay discusses an AI process developed for making art (AICAN), and the issues AI creativity raises for understanding art and artists in the 21st century. Backed by our training in computer science (Elgammal) and art history (Mazzone), we argue for the consideration of AICAN’s works as art, relate AICAN works to the contemporary art context, and urge a reconsideration of how we might define human and machine creativity. Our work in developing AI processes for art making, style analysis, and detecting large-scale style patterns in art history has led us to carefully consider the history and dynamics of human art-making and to examine how those patterns can be modeled and taught to the machine. We advocate for a connection between machine creativity and art broadly defined as parallel to but not in conflict with human artists and their emotional and social intentions of art making. Rather, we urge a partnership between human and machine creativity when called for, seeing in this collaboration a means to maximize both partners’ creative strengths. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessEssay Can Computers Create Art?
Received: 4 February 2018 / Revised: 5 May 2018 / Accepted: 7 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (8081 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay discusses whether computers, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), could create art. First, the history of technologies that automated aspects of art is surveyed, including photography and animation. In each case, there were initial fears and denial of the technology, followed by a [...] Read more.
This essay discusses whether computers, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), could create art. First, the history of technologies that automated aspects of art is surveyed, including photography and animation. In each case, there were initial fears and denial of the technology, followed by a blossoming of new creative and professional opportunities for artists. The current hype and reality of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for art making is then discussed, together with predictions about how AI tools will be used. It is then speculated about whether it could ever happen that AI systems could be credited with authorship of artwork. It is theorized that art is something created by social agents, and so computers cannot be credited with authorship of art in our current understanding. A few ways that this could change are also hypothesized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessEssay Art in the Age of Machine Intelligence
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 7 September 2017 / Accepted: 29 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (868 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this wide‐ranging essay, the leader of Google’s Seattle AI group and founder of the Artists and Machine Intelligence program discusses the long‐standing and complex relationship between art and technology. The transformation of artistic practice and theory that attended the 19th century photographic [...] Read more.
In this wide‐ranging essay, the leader of Google’s Seattle AI group and founder of the Artists and Machine Intelligence program discusses the long‐standing and complex relationship between art and technology. The transformation of artistic practice and theory that attended the 19th century photographic revolution is explored as a parallel for the current revolution in machine intelligence, which promises not only to mechanize (or democratize) the means of reproduction, but also of production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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Open AccessEssay The Machine as Artist: An Introduction
Received: 2 March 2017 / Accepted: 28 March 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1515 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With the understanding that art and technology are continuing to experience an historic and rapidly intensifying rapprochement—but with the understanding as well that accounts thereof have tended to be constrained by scientific/engineering rigor on the one hand, or have tended to swing to [...] Read more.
With the understanding that art and technology are continuing to experience an historic and rapidly intensifying rapprochement—but with the understanding as well that accounts thereof have tended to be constrained by scientific/engineering rigor on the one hand, or have tended to swing to the opposite extreme—it is the goal of this special issue of Arts to provide an opportunity for artists, humanists, scientists, and engineers to consider this development from the broader perspective which it deserves, while at the same time retaining a focus on what must surely be the emerging core of our subject: the state of the art in mechatronics and computation is such that we can now begin to speak comfortably of the machine as artist—and we can begin to hope, as well, that an aesthetic sensitivity on the part of the machine might help lead to a friendlier and more sensitive machine intelligence in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Machine as Artist (for the 21st Century))
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