Our era has seen the collapse of art into space-filler content. We Wikipedia the context. We Google the creator. We read hot takes on social media. We interrogate originality. Did a person create this? Or a computer? An algorithm? We put art on a slab. We dissect it.
And now... artificial intelligence: art stripped of artistry. A machine doing what it’s told. AI has no thoughts. It reproduces data from a prompt without understanding what it's reproducing or why. There's no labor. Just product. In his New York Times article, “The False Promise of ChatGPT,” Noam Chomsky says AI acts as a “seemingly sophisticated thought and language, [but has] the moral indifference born of unintelligence... true intelligence is demonstrated in the ability to think and express improbable but insightful things.”
What about the photographer who wanders Paris, captivated by the French shopkeepers’ window display mannequins? Or a young woman who recounts the true story of the connections she made with other patients within the walls of an abusive institution? AI might poorly mimic a poet’s language or an artist’s visual composition. But it has no capacity for a historic reimagining of Mary Shelley’s emotional life when she wrote Frankenstein. Or an artist’s personal history with the Korean Diaspora.
The best thing about art is that when new technologies mimic content, true creativity stays authentic. On the canvas or page—art looks back at us. Reflects us. It is more than a piece of output. More than auto space-filler. Human-made will always be here to help us comprehend ourselves and what it means to be a person in this world.
— L.aura Hawbaker
MASKS Literary Magazine is sponsored by the Columbia College Chicago Library and was founded as part of the Aesthetics of Research Program-an ongoing series of exhibits, events, and other shenanigans dedicated to exploring the role that libraries play in artistic process, creative community building, and resource-sharing in the arts.
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