The world builds on language — and so does the internet. Some weeks ago this website went down because some part of its code (or language) lost its meaning due to an automatic software update. But here it is again with most of its old content salvaged, again serving as a digital map of my most recent artistic work.
I have used “Answers to nonexistent questions” as the tagline for my website for at least a decade. It reflects the way I approach art: first comes an unexpected idea, a spark of inspiration, a swift realization, that triggers a creative process. It feels like catching a glimpse of the future through a small crack in time, before understanding how every small detail connects and builds up to the foreseen event, allowing it eventually to happen.
The phrase captures my belief of how intuition works in art and philosophy. I also believe that preserving the intuitive element in art is more important in contemporary art than ever. With AI based systems and creativity tools becoming more and more common, artists will have a hard time defending their profession, if they focus only on the mechanical part of artistic work.
To prove my point, I asked ChatGPT (GPT4) to give me an answer to a nonexistent question. It couldn’t. “Providing an answer to a nonexistent question is inherently paradoxical. If a question does not exist, there can be no answer to provide for it.”
AI systems are great world-changing tools, but they are not creative — at least not yet. This provides us with some unexpected opportunities to explore the systems especially in areas where they don’t function yet very well.
This idea came up recently in an interview between Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Caroline Polachek. In the interview Lopatin tells the story of how he played some AI generated music to the legendary jazz musician John Medeski. Medeski was apparently impressed by how “wrong” the music sounded, while at the same producing interesting arrangements.
Intuition plays a big role in creating art, but can we replicate human intuition with AI? Can we replicate compassion?
If so, what happens then?
I created the cover image for this post with Midjourney, using the prompt “an answer to a nonexistent question”. For some reason, many of the images created with this prompt included astronauts, or hooded characters with no face.