Tracing Autonomy & Artistic Significance: An Alternative Framework for Understanding Generative Art (2023)

Paper publication xCoAx 2023, with Edwin van der Heide.

With new developments in Machine Learning, computational creativity, and NFT technology, generative art continues to gain the interest of artists, scientists, and critics. Yet, the definition of generative art is broadly defined, and what one reckons among this type of art is up for debate. As a result, a wide variety of works is clustered under the same header. Various schools of thought on classifying and comparing generative art exist. However, these facilitate a description of generative systems within an artwork, but neglect the role or contribution of those systems to the work itself. These factors make meaningful analysis and comparison of generative artworks difficult.

With this research, we aim to formulate an alternative perspective of looking at generative art, in order to develop a better understanding of what generative art includes, where ‘the generative’ in a work takes place, how ‘the generative’ relates to other aspects in that work, and how this differs from ‘the generative’ in other works. Two concepts are proposed, "autonomous ability" and "artistic significance", and a framework to analyse generative art through the lens of these concepts. The framework is applied to a selection of generative artworks, that together form an alternative exhibition on Generative Art. Results of the analysis are presented in the form of a physical, printed exhibition catalogue, together with a discussion on what insights are found, and what these insights add to the existing frameworks & the current debate about generative art.

This research was published at the Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X in Weimar, 2023.

Paper can be downloaded here:

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Tracing Autonomy & Artistic Significance: An Alternative Framework for Analysing & Comparing Generative Art.

Marissa Memelink and Edwin van der Heide. 

CoAx 2023