[spectre] 'aicons': artificial intelligence and the art world. by Timo Kahlen

Timo Kahlen mail at timo-kahlen.de
Mon Jan 1 13:36:05 CET 2024

Dear friends, artists and curious minds !

Some thoughts on artificial intelligence,
on effortless ‚aicons',
and my best wishes
for the year to come.

See text below.
Timo Kahlen

Timo Kahlen / AI
x + 1
AI-generated images, 2023
from the ‚aicons‘ series

It’s all too easy. Effortless, generated at the spur of the moment - ex tempore - by artificial intelligence from a minimal input, my short written prompt spit at the machine - and diffused, composed, rendered online within split seconds, as multiple variations of iconic images - call them ‚aicons‘, if you will - capturing my attention, entangling my emotions and twisting my beliefs. All too easy, no sweat and tears, appropriating - summa summarum - all avant-gardes of the past, all visual trash of the present, and all diffuse and imagined dreams of the future: pressing this ‚learnt‘ imagery into algorithms, speeding it through neural networks, and consuming time and energy on countless servers located all around the globe - with the profane goal (amongst others) to quench my (insatiable) thirst for new images, for new emotions, and for new swells of endorphins, as I click at my very own, (seemingly private) ‚individual’ output on my personal, hand-held digital display. 

The history of art will repeat itself. AI-generated images assume a powerful, yet ambivalent, ‚mediated‘ visual presence. On the one hand, they entangle our emotions, projecting déjà-vus of scenes and motifs we have experienced before, simulate a liveliness and warmth, stimulate a form of recognition and take on a ‚photographic’, assuringly documentary stance. On the other hand, we detect traces of manipulation, of deceit: a distorted hand, an inconsistency in perspective, a misfit proportion, a blur where it should not be. We come to understand that the camera-less, virtual compositions have no physical and no time-based existence, no depth beyond the smooth surface of our digital display, no tangible quality or assessable value. They are not ours. Are not ‚original‘ in the best sense of the word, but mere variations - out of countless others, generated by each new user with each new click - of what has existed before. Virtual ‚Doppelgänger’ images generated impromptu and without effort, shared and replicated, to be - once again - ‚learnt‘ on by machines, ad infinitum, to reiterate and to re-write the history of art.

Timo Kahlen
January 1, 2024


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