Is This Why People Doom-Scroll? I’m Here For It!

The popular rise of artificial intelligence, which I feel we should all just admit is not “AI”, has given rise to something awesome: widespread, boarder-line irrational anger. I can appreciate this because I both do not care, and find it hugely entertaining. I guess there’s AI out there where you tell it something like “creepy Victorian child who is frail but also a Dyson vacuum cleaner in the style of Harry Clarke” and it goes out to whatever image collection and language interpretation database it has been trained on and a machine learning language engine algorithm spits out a drawing for you. Let it be known I do not know any of the proper terms, I skip those paragraphs, they’re boring.

Some people do the prompt crafting and enter the result in art competitions, and win. A that causes internet fights.

The argument is usually between a side that says “you didn’t produce this art, it’s not your work, you should not have been allowed into our competition” and the other which says “I had to come up with an idea, and then I had to carefully craft my instructions to the AI to get this image, I made it, it’s art.” Maybe they say they tweaked it some in photoshop. This opposition is great ‘cause someone, eventually, always mentions assistants.

Is this really a Rembrandt or did van Rijn just sign the work of one of his apprentices? Is this really a Koons or did he and the gallerist just get to cash the check? And it gets to be so wild because the fine art market and it’s participants made their choice centuries before Warhol’s factory made it acceptable to talk about, and now all the paint-spattered, charcoal-smeared, my-hand-feels-like-numb-claw, lower-caste artists are solidly rejecting that position. And it’s like, it’s not your fault, but you’re the reason big names in the fine art community even exist. Withhold your artistic labor, your technical skill, and the big names will collapse.

The proletariat doesn’t just own the means of production, they are the means of production.

And people know, but it doesn’t matter because even if 99.99% of the anonymous working artists out there went on strike, a couple hundred people are sure to be willing to bet that this is their chance to transition from nameless assistant to name on the shingle. That could be true to, if they’ve been careful about swiping phone numbers. Seriously, like having the right number is a fine art fundamental. But none of that’s knew.

And not all the threads last long enough to make it to the obvious. When they do though it’s amazing cause you can practically witness both sides just silently mouthing “well… fuck.” See, my position is just make it. Produce. That’s the opposite of consumer culture, producer culture. Like the good stuff that the world is better as a result of, the secret stuff that is created under compulsion because you have to, the terrible stuff that you gotta get out of the way before you get to the real stuff.

Contemporary Art Sucks

If you’ve gone to MoMa or the Tate Modern, hell, if you’ve picked up a recent copy of Art Digest or gotten by clicking about art in Wikipedia you’ve seen some modern art. Chances are you’ve seen it and, even if you didn’t say it you thought, damn that’s terrible. Oh, so and so spent 2 million on it? guess I’ll look again and try and rationalize. Or, maybe you swallowed it whole and just beleive that the capacity to generate a “cost” or end up in a museum or find a space in a gallery is what dictates the worth of an artwork.

So, I just ready Julian Spalding’s Con Art and in a effort to hear a cojent argument against that position I read Susie Hodge’s Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That. I was rather disapointed in both. Spalding just seems to accept that his position is correct and doesn’t need any sort of a defense. Hodge on the other hand give you her position in the title, just as Spalding does, and then proceeds to defend her stance in a way that totally disregards it. A more apt title for her work would have been, “Why The Art World Wont Defend Anything by Your Five-Year-Old.”

Spalding’s argument is something along the lines of, and I’ll paraphrase here, “What the hell is wrong with your morons? None of this is any good!”. Hodge’s is “We can bring all kinds of context to the analysis of this Unmade Bed or Uncarved Block so it’s deffinately worth a bunch of recognition and museum space.” I think their both wrong. I think they’re both looking at the wrong thing. I think this because terrible movies get made all the time and no one has any problem speaking up and saying they’re terrible.

Take Gigli. This is a movie that ends up on all kinds of worst movie ever lists. It had stars who people liked, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and a budget of $75.6 million dollars. It made $7.3 million. If you invested $11.00 in making it, you got a dollar back on that investment and lost ten. The public at large and professional critics have no trouble at all panning the film. Why desparage Gigli but not the most expensive photo ever sold, a useless, photoshopped travesty called Rhein II?

Well, to sell Rhein II for $4.3 million one only had to briefly convince a few dozen high net worth idiots in an auction house that it was any good. In order to make a profit on Gigli you’d have to convince the public at large. Look at it this way, the fact Gigli got made is proof you can convice a few wealthy people that shit (even if it isn’t canned) is art that’s valuable. That it made no money to speak of is proof you can’t convince the world.

Oddly enough, everyone in the art world probably knows this. Everyone. It’d be hillarious, if it wasn’t so sad.