I have a theory that computers can simulate creative art with a few general art rules and some randomness. When you create an image that nobody has ever seen before, you create art. But good artwork is also bounded by certain rules of design and application of art theory. The painter assesses the balance of colors on canvas. The photographer ensures the lighting creates the effect she wants. The chef engages the senses with a combination of aroma, flavors, and presentation of food.
Computers can be programmed to apply the rules of art, while randomness can create compelling images which one might interpret as creativity. Creativity is the mental spark which combines seemingly unrelated ideas to form something unique. A computer connecting random ideas will appear creative. Randomness can simulate creativity.
By analyzing the thought process in creating art, certain patterns can be found to create rules that a computer can use. Perhaps the artist always puts the complementary color of the foreground into the background of a portrait. Maybe he adjusts the contrasts of light to set the mood of the composition. Perhaps whenever the situation arises where the composition is monotonous and heavy on one side, the artist balances it with a punctuating stroke of color on the other side. There is a thought process that goes into making good art, and that process of reflection forms the basis of art theory. A traditional art theory has rules that you can put into practice with a computer.
There are different creative processes to create various types of art. In computing, we might call these “templates.” You can study Picasso and create a Picasso template, having the rules Picasso abides by when he creates his renowned paintings. Then a computer might use the Picasso template, make a few random decisions that fit within the bounds of the rules, and generate new original works in the style of Picasso.
Writer and poet Oscar Schwartz demonstrated in a TED Talk that a computer could create poetry that fools most people into thinking a human wrote it. The poetry generator analyzed the work of well-known human poets and created a template. The computer then filled out the templates with new words, following the rules found in the works of the human poets, to generate creative poetry. Most people were unable to distinguish the computer-generated poetry from poetry written by a person.
Do you know of any computer software that generates “art”? Let me know in the comments.