What is a Painting? by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid
Henri Matisse once remarked that “Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul” – he meant to imply, like journalism, that it is the first “rough draft” of history. Techspressionism, to me at least, updates and remixes that idea at the speed of modern technology’s impact on the creative act. What is a painting but a condensed version, a snapshot in time of a process of visualization? So is data.
It’s been a complicated and long, torturous path as humanity has navigated our uneasy and uncanny relationships to technology and the way it disrupts our sense of identity. These works are test versions of a series of paintings using robotics to enhance some of the ideas I’ve explored connecting sound, art, and new approaches to composition using data. The 18th Century French philosopher and physicist Julien Offray de la Mettrie wrote his infamous “L’homme Machine” (Man Machine) in 1747 at the height of the French Enlightenment and posited that humans are, in essence pattern makers, reflecting our intense relationship with how the physical sense of continuity in our essence, eerily parallels the “celestial mechanics” or “clockwork universe” of a Newtonian world view. His work, along with later mathematician and information theorist Norbert Weiner with his classic treatise of 1948 “Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine” inspires the two pieces. Legendary philosopher of science Karl Popper observed in his essay “Of Clocks and Clouds” in his opus “Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach“ (1975) that Mettrie was at a crossroads between how the West perceived itself and the objective world around it. From paintings revolutions in zero-point perspective on over to how quantum mechanics has influenced our new sense of things like Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” at the heart of modern quantum computing: “the doctrine that man is a machine was argued most forcefully in 1751, long before the theory of evolution became generally accepted, by de La Mettrie; and the theory of evolution gave the problem an even sharper edge, by suggesting there may be no clear distinction between living matter and dead matter. And, in spite of the victory of the new quantum theory, and the conversion of so many physicists to indeterminism, de La Mettrie’s doctrine that man is a machine has perhaps more defenders than before among physicists, biologists and philosophers; especially in the form of the thesis that man is a computer.”
These paintings are a rough draft mirror held up to a world where technology has made it that there are no “finished works.” These are rough drafts of an algorithm in search of infinite uncertainty with no update. These paintings were made with ArtMatr Robotics Lab using serveral intricate machine mix/computational processes to transfer my work over to a robot which then generated the paintings.
I leave the interpolation up to you.
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
Aspen, CO USA
View this artist’s work included in the exhibition here.