This is not…

detail of graphite drawing

I have not blogged for around three years. I have missed doing so. Curating a blog is an invaluable way of reflecting on work rather than in it. Life has intervened and created inevitable distractions causing a sort of hiatus in my visual art practice. Well, not quite – I have done work and learnt new skills, more than I might realise, but as much as I would have liked.1I will post about the small projects in the future However, things do not last forever, and here I am, creating a new post in the vein of where I had left off at the end of the MA at UAL – MA Journal.

I have looked at the MA blog but with no real intention of blogging. A few days ago, I visited it again looking for some ideas, I was more receptive to the idea of carrying on blogging, it was a revelation. The content is as fresh as I remember it and presents itself to me as the invaluable source that I had hoped it would be. What also surprised me was, how my thoughts then are so very relevant to my thinking at this moment.

I did a lot of searching during the MA. Since graduating, I have continued in the spirit of exploration. It has become clear that what I am now doing has its origins right at the start, from childhood and adolescence. The difference is one of skill, and understanding coming from doing, doing, doing. There are indelible threads that run through everything. Looking through my parents’ papers when sorting out their estate, I came across a poem I had written while at school when I was fourteen. It has the same traits and cadences found in my most recent writings. Regardless of subject matter, theme or motif, there is a sense of form, of mass whether when using words, colour tone or resistance materials that are dense and raw. I now feel able to make use of that clarified essence with directness, avoiding the uncertainties of taste, influence or judgment.

(Road to Ortimino) – 1991 – 91 x 102 cm, oil on linen, This is one of the last paintings, if not the last, I did in Italy. In essence, things have not changed since then and before. The detail of the drawing above is from about two weeks ago of shapes in porcelain I made in 2021. The same preoccupation with mass seems to have followed me throughout my life.

I talk of limitations because I have just read something by Lev Manovich that chimes perfectly with what I have thought for a long time regarding the artist and technology. In his ‘A Letter to a Young Artist‘ in which he deals with the problem of creativity, art practice, and artificial intelligence, he manages to simply put the same thing that Delacroix said nearly two hundred years ago. To make strengths out of your weaknesses.

So what is our principal weakness that purportedly we can use as a trump card in the creativity race against technology? AI has all the knowledge stored on the internet at its fingertips or soon will have. Secondly, AI is evolving its computational and motor capabilities at a speed that makes our biological and cultural evolution glacially slow. Soon AI will be able to do anything it is ordered to do, or even of its own accord, and improve on it. So why compete with a god? Even collaborations would look anything but.

It is that limitation that gives us the get-out-of-jail-free card of future creative irrelevance. In the limitations stakes, we are sure-fire winners. Compared to AI we will be able to do very little and slowly. That is what will give us direction as artists. We will be forced to narrow our focus and dig deep, very deep. So deep that AI will not be able to follow us down the labyrinth of our narrow limitations because it is so large and all-encompassing to enter into our human micro world. Manovich is telling us not to try to compete with AI and forget about being ‘creative’ – be limited. That is the very conclusion I had already come to. As an artist, I shall let AI do what it is good at and accept being human, do what fascinates me and become deeply immersed in the ramifications and minutiae of my imagination.

  • 1
    I will post about the small projects in the future