The Interpretive Dance

May 21, 2023

A side effect of the generative algo-art wave that’s gone at least underappreciated is the total dissolution of the notion that artistic intent exists and is anything worth investigating. Detail and context are no longer avenues of a creator’s comment or venues of study; there’s no point in engaging critically with anything that Midjourney has barfed out, because there’s nothing you could even vaguely call “intent” behind it. The fine details are reduced to the sterility of the forensic.

Why is this song seemingly off-key or jangly in the middle? Is that Thelonious Monk dropping some dissonance into a solo, chasing a feeling we don’t have a name for, or Shostakovitch obliquely deriding Stalin’s leadership, knowing full well Josef will be in the audience on opening night but won’t understand it? When we look at Gerome’s “The Death of Caesar“, should we be seeing the senate building, jagged teeth of the assassin’s upraised daggers, as the teeth in the jaws of a monster?

There’s no point in even asking the question. The answer doesn’t mean anything. The answer can’t mean anything, all you can do is count the fingers to see if it’s “real”. It’s not really surprising that these tools were universally built by people who don’t really care to understand why you might want, much less desire, to engage with art on anything but the most superficial, selfish level; nobody who had ever asked themselves what art is, or why, would have built them.