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Artworks Are Non-Deterministic Attractors in Imagination Space - Part 1/3

My earlier essay A Definition of Art suggested a theoretical yet statistically verifiable definition for the term "Artwork". The impracticality arises from the fact that the true (non-approximate) version of that definition depends on knowing the theoretical "Taste of God" - so it is also a deistic definition. The statistical side of the definition arose from approximating this opinion with the opinion of numerous Humans, who might carry a partial divine light within.

In this essay, I intend to give a non-deistic definition of an Artwork. However, some certain mechanisms of it are mysterious enough to possibly still require a "divine light" to act. At the moment, my definition is still hazy to me, and this essay is only a sketch of a potentially deeper theory yet to unfold.

As mentioned in my other essay, once the concept of an "Artwork" is defined, "Art" is simply the set of all Artworks, and an "Artist" is someone capable of making an "Artwork".

Here we will assume the pre-existence of an "inspiration" or primary impulse producing a "vision" which the rest of the creation process follows in an approximate manner. The end result may in fact significantly deviate from the preconcieved vision. (Note that I prefer unaided artistic visions.)

To begin the definition, first we will define "Taste". Let Taste be a finite set of contractive transformations (mathematical functions in the sense of Iterated Function Systems), which each transform a perceivable object into another, in one step. Define an "impulse" as a specific contractive transformation of Taste.

Note that here "perception" is that of any conscious being (whatever consciousness means), not necessarily a Human, and the object may be visual, written, auditory, or other. What "contractive" means, is unclear to me at this point, but it certainly means that in an abstract space (not mere 3D), a certain mathematical measure (abstract volume) of the Artwork gets smaller due to the transformation. This abstract measure could be beauty, ugliness, dynamism, etc. depending on the impulse's given function in the abstract space. Let that abstract space be called (Collective Human) Imagination, and let the transformations of Taste (impulses) be operators over that space.

The impulses likely have two main classes: creative and corrective. Creative impulses bring new elements into the object, while corrective impulses merely modify the object, or its certain part(s). The new elements could be the overall composition, color and tone patches, new note in a musical score, etc.

A crucial question is how impulses act in time. Do they act one after the other, or in a parallel manner? In the second case, which is implied by Human brains being parallel processors, the impulses create a multilayered flow of creation, which nevertheless has a finite number of layers, as many as the impulses. Since for instance if there are ten acting impulses, each of them act sequentially by themselves, creating an individual sequence. So ten parallel sequences will make up the flow of creation. In the first case, there is only one sequence of impulses, where each sequence element is due to one random impulse.

How do impulses acting in parallel create a new object as a whole? Each individually produces a result, but how do the results get combined? Possibly via a weighted average of the individual results, or by a simple set union, or there may be one additional complex "master impulse" directing their combination.

What is the nature of the transformations? Are they genetically ingrained, learned over time, or inspired by a divine light? Possibly their biology have components due to each. This is the mysterious, potentially deistic point in my new definition. Impulses certainly have an evaluating element of the object under transformation, and they produce a result based on the evaluation.

Impulses may not be deterministic, due to the fact that the Human brain is non-deterministic to an extent. In practice this means that Humans have "opinions" that may change - in other words for the same input, the brain produces a different output at a later time. The actions of impulses may vary similarly to some extent, based on probabilistic factors due to hormonal, emotional, etc. changes in brain chemistry, or for other reasons, at any moment.

We have now arrived at defining an Artwork. The initial object which is acted upon by the impulses, could be anything. Visually it may be a blank canvas or a heap of trash. Define an "iteration" to be one acting step - when the impulses act in parallel to transform the object into a new stage (some impulses may skip acting in an iteration), while combined via a master impulse.

Thus the impulses transform the object iteration by iteration, acting upon the previous result in a recursive manner. Since impulses were defined as contractive in the abstract space of Imagination, we thus have a contractive Iterated Function System (IFS) which by the Banach fixed point theorem has one unique fixed point, as the iterations tend to infinity. Let this fixed point / attractor be called an "Artwork".

Continued in Part 2/3: Artworks as Attractors in Practice.

Artworks as Attractors in Practice - Part 2/3

Continued from Part 1/3: Artworks Are Non-Deterministic Attractors in Imagination Space.

During the creative process, how does one know if they have arrived close enough to creating an Artwork (after many iterations)? The solution is trivial and in agreement with what an artist instinctively does: one must apply their Taste to transform the object, until an application results in no further improvement. In other words, Taste produces the same object after any new iteration. This is also a sign that Artworks are indeed fixed points of an artist's Taste.

Individual observers may test if something is a good candidate for being an Artwork, by applying their own Taste to it, and if their Taste is universal enough (close enough to some ultimate Taste, possibly that of God) and the artist's is universal enough as well, then they should arrive at the creating artist's conclusion, that the piece indeed cannot be improved (within its own theme and context). Note that there must likely exist an ultimate High Taste, as also conjectured in my essay A Definition of Art.

Let's discuss our new definition and the above in practice, regarding Human visual artworks. When someone looks at an object, say a piece of stone, they may see certain parts which seem out of place by their Taste, so they wish to "fix" it by chiseling that part. When they again look at the stone (evaluate it with their Taste), they may find another part to correct, and so on. Someone with a very refined Taste (an Artist) would likely continue on for many-many iterations, to "perfect" the stone to their liking (Taste). The iterations may follow one another in the split of a second, making the process look continuous. When a painter paints, s/he is able to bring new creative elements in and modify the existing ones (by their impulses of Taste). Thus iteration by iteration they get closer and closer to a fixed point, or Artwork, which theoretically is impossible to improve, thus they reach a fixed point (an attractor).

Note that the iterations may start before the physical object is created/transformed in reality, since the Artist may create in advance, or in "imagination", before actually acting on their creative impulses. The creative act is usually the result of a mysterious "inspiration". Imagining in advance, may serve the purpose of coming up with alternative results over some iterations, projecting creation into the future, and picking and taking the most desirable route.

From the definition, it also follows that it is impossible in practice to create an Artwork, since an infinite number of iterations are necessary to reach one. We can only go down the infinite sequence of iterations to a very large number, and if one's impulses are "acute" enough, the process should be efficient and practical enough to arrive at a near-Artwork.

Note that in this definition "Artwork" is analgous to "true Artwork", and "near-Artwork" to "high Artwork", as defined in my previous essay. "Low Artwork" would correspond to a low iteration number, thus an object not sufficiently refined by the iterations of Taste impulses.

My definition is again in full agreement with Michelangelo, who said:
"The true work of Art, is but a shadow of the Divine Perfection."
For we may only reach a finite number of iterations (a shadow), from the infinite number necessary to create an Artwork (divine perfection). So "visual value" or the quality of an artwork, is really just the level of refinement due to the number of iterations carried out by the Artist according to their Taste.

The above also sheds light on certain aspects of visual creation. One is that artists tend to create from sketchy to refined forms, the refining taking place in smaller and smaller regions - just as IFS fractals appear (which are also attractors in 2D space, not Imagination space). It also shows why imagination in its freest form contains so many spirals, since they are basic fractals/attractors themselves. Impulses creating IFS fractals are simple mathematical mappings, which in words state: "rotating, transposing, and contracting an object will make them 'look better'", and two or more impulses create an IFS fractal.

An Artwork will become energetic in composition, due to the increased Taste for motion, resulting at the extreme in visual elements flowing turbulently at high Reynolds numbers. The theme of an Artwork may heavily influence the impulses in creating an Artwork, thus turbulence may not always be desirable, while in certain other cases it may well-serve to increase visual value as described in the Energy Art Movement Manifesto.

Continued in Part 3/3: Postscript to my Definition Attempts for Art.

Postscript to my Definition Attempts for Art - Part 3/3

Continued from Part 2/3: Artworks as Attractors in Practice.

As a postcript, I must mention the taboo these essays are breaking. For in fact today it is a taboo to talk about a definition of Art, because it is considered undefinable due to the currently prevailing ideas of "freedom of creation / interpretation". In other words, it is up to the viewer to decide if they consider something Art or not, worthy of their appreciation. This is a rather over-simplified and rarely-doubted view, analogous to early Humans' worship of what they could not explain.

In these essays, I am suggesting a meta-definition existing independently of viewers or creators, since I believe that Art does exist on the meta level, and it does have a genuine universal definition, which may or may not be the ones I have proposed. However I do believe in the validity of my second (current) definition, as it is closely based upon my own experiences and inner feelings while creating. A more refined definition will only be possible if we uncover the biological mechanisms of artistic imagination within the brain, or possibly beyond it.

Deep inside everyone feels that this quest for the true definition of Art is a potentially dangerous one. For if a rational/algorithmic method gets to be devised for creating an artwork, computerized machines may then be capable of envisioning, generating, and improvising genuine refined true Art, likely surpassing any Human Art. Many types of generative media already exist, including fractal art and abstract video art. However, I mean here algorithms capable of turning a piece of marble into a piece of Art, due to their ability to envision and improve a piece via their non-deterministic Taste, resulting in various Artworks from the same piece of marble. It is no surprise then that a deep fear resides in us for such an ominous possibility, which might easily surpass any visual art formerly created by a Human.

However, I believe that Homo Sapiens won its dominance due to its intellect in devising tools to extend its abilities. Machines aiding the creation of Artworks through mathematics and programming, only represent new brushes, canvases and chisels for manifesting Human visions in reality. So then what is a greater quest than devising machines capable of envisioning and creating Art in a split second?

In the future, artists must also become mathematicians and programmers, and that time is not far. As a first stage, their art may very-well become a combination of Human improvisation using computer-generated elements, resulting in a sort of performance-like "Cyber-Human Art", described in my essay On the Future of Art.

As I wrote in that essay: "I hope that today’s generation of artists will remain open to any new advancements, and will profit from these opportunities when they become available, thus allowing themselves to open doors to higher levels of creative freedom."

Energy Art Salon 2010

The Energy Art Salon 2010 is the first annual exhibition of the Energy Art Movement, showcasing the finest energetic art today on the international scene.

The We Are Connected theme shall permeate the event, celebrating our inherent unity as a global human race. Artworks will revolve around this fundamental theme, taking a stance against the feeling of separation coming from many channels today.

2009 competition finalists will also be showing their works, who submitted top-ranking art from various countries.

Murphy Hill Gallery
Address: 3rd Flr, 3333 W Arthington St, Chicago, USA
Exhibition duration: Jan. 15 - Feb. 25, 2010
Reception: Jan. 16, noon - 11 pm

Movement Organizers and some members will be attending the reception.