What is generative art and why is it important? – art newspaper | Candle Made Easy

Coined in 1965 by the German philosopher Max Bense, the term generative art describes works based on an algorithmic code or mathematical formula. Generative art is created by a set of rules that automate the output, usually with randomness embedded in the algorithm. The process is defined by the artist, and the result is a kind of collaboration between machine and artist. Bense tutored two of the artists with works in the current Phillips auction Ex-Machina: A History of Generative Art (until July 20): Frieder Nake and Georg Nees. Originally exhibited in 1965, Nake’s plotter drawings are among the earliest examples of computer art. Also included in the auction is a late work by Nees from 1986, in which the artist created an AI program using the Lisp computer language. Bridging the gap between graphics and language, this work depicts a virtual mythical space that predicts the modern metaverse.

How is generative art curated?

Applying a historical lens to the definition and development of generative art is one way to curate it. Another, used by NFT platform FxHash, requires all artwork on their platform to use a specific random function within their code. The truth is that while this term has been around since 1965, it is also largely defined by the curators of current exhibitions, including the Phillip’s auction.

In 2014, before the current explosion of NFTs, critic David Blazer published a book Curationism: How curating conquered the art world. In this new digital age of the art world, while galleries grapple with platforms to gain influence, the role of the curator is already firmly established.

In an industry dominated by hype and braggarts, Georg Bak, the curator of Phillips Auction, is a confusing understatement. His deep knowledge easily classifies him as a geek. He operates through LinkedIn with the job title “Digital Art Advisor” and does not have a Twitter account. But with major projects in Zurich, Miami, London and many metaverses, it is becoming increasingly clear that Bak is one of the most important curators of digital art. As head of Phillipp’s digital art project, Benjamin Kandler said in a recent interview: “We asked Georg Bak to curate this auction because we knew he would bring a historical approach that would reflect the true originality and importance of the artists involved would prove.”

There is some overlap between NFTs and generative art. Artist collective Distributed Gallery’s Chaos Machine applies chance and code to be classified as both blockchain art and generative art.

What is a typical example of generative art?

The 2018 chaos machine by the Distributed Gallery artist collective is an early example of a blockchain sculpture that is also classified as generative art through its use of randomness and algorithmic code. It looks like a juke box and exists in two identical copies connected by the Ethereum blockchain. When a banknote is inserted into one of the machines, both devices play music from a user-generated playlist registered on the Ethereum blockchain. At the same time, the banknote is burned. As the banknote is burned, a crypto token is minted and a QR code is printed, allowing the user to add a new song to the Chaos Machine’s playlist.

How are generative art and NFTs related?

Many of the works in the Phillips auction, particularly the 1960s works by Vladimir Bonacic, Gottfried Jäger, Hein Gravenhorst, Georg Nees and Frieder Nake, are likely to be undervalued as the ownership mechanisms did not exist prior to NFTs. It wasn’t that digital art couldn’t be owned before NFTs (bitforms gallery has been selling digital art for decades), but the market hadn’t settled on the system. So in the last 50 years this work has suffered without a market. Now it’s finally for sale.

Why is generative art so important right now?

As we grapple with the tide of generative NFTs being created today, exploring the history of generative art helps us to attribute true value. By bringing together historically significant generative art, Bak and Phillips help us see the new versus the imitation. This story gives us the right to know and to judge. Like Annette Doms and Alex Estorick, the emerging great digital art curators are often art historians by training. Nothing frustrates these curators more than to see the art world reward an artist for repeating something done half a century ago.

The auction is not only about historical art, but also works of art that build on the early work. In this content lies the originality of Anne Splitter’s AI generative artworks Unconstructed Dream Space #2: Inside and Outside (2022) shines. This video is part of a day in the studio and part of a journey into space as a metaphor to describe the creative process. It uses an artificial intelligence text-to-image process to create the weird composition effect.

Who exhibits generative art?

FxHash, NFT platform

ArtBlocks, NFT platform has partnered with Pace Gallery

Postmaster Gallery, New York

Gallery Kate Vass, Zurich

• The Phillips auction can be seen at Phillips London from July 11th to August 5th and for sale online from July 13th to 20th

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