collaboration: Caedmon the computer artist

Caedmon is a computer named after a 7th century monk (Cædmon) whose story I learned only after submitting some images for “collaboration” with the computer. The story of Cædmon is that as a monk he had no talent for song or arts in general. One night when the other monastic members were singing he retired to bed early because he couldn’t sing. While he slept he had a powerful dream where he composed and sang a song. When he awoke he wrote the song down and after that became known for his poetry and song. He is even called the “Father of English Sacred Song” on a memorial sculpture, perhaps because he is one of the few medieval Anglo-Saxon poets who are named.

I submitted these images for Caedmon to use.

According to an article from The News, the creator of Caedmon designed the computer to use public feedback, or “likes”, to decide what data to continue creating with. I’m assuming that based on some algorithm Caedmon combines previous data sets from past artworks that ranked higher on social media with the data from my images. These are the results:

In these examples from Caedmon the computer artist, I wonder if the crowd sourced data is telling me to mute my color palette and use a smaller brush with a lot more brushstrokes while losing the figure entirely and adhering to a square composition. While it was visually interesting to see what Caedmon made, I have to wonder about Fusillo’s statement about wanting to make artwork impersonal and using a computer to make it so, according to the article from The News linked above. Does receiving crowd sourced impressions make art impersonal and free from humanity, or more transpersonal? Also, I can’t help but recall philosophical questions from Philip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep? (used to create the movie Blade Runner), the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica, and Daniel Hillis’s Pattern on the Stone where the viewer/reader is asked to see humankind comparable to programmable organic machines with computer brains. Maybe Caedmon the computer is learning more about painting than I will ever be able to see.