Art and A.I. — A Vision of Where It’s Going

Alex Maki-Jokela
12 min readOct 16, 2020

The Github Archive Program is meant to preserve software, and so it only makes sense that I would use A.I. in the process of creating the artwork for it.

I’ve been playing with A.I. artistically for years now. The following is as best of an account I can give of what the process is like, what’s new about it, and where I think it’s going.

Context, Philosophy, and an Imaginary Helicopter

As a lifelong student of human nature, I also treat the journey (as I do everything) as an invitation to observe the evolution in my own relationships with body, mind, spirit, and machines.

When working on a piece, I often experience little flashes of surrealism — this sort of awareness, that some small code/art decision I’m dealing with on my laptop, viewed through another lens, is a real-life instance of a philosophical flashpoint that humanity has fiercely debated for ages.

Trying to answer the philosophical questions, I usually feel like a monkey trying to fly a helicopter built out of leaves and sticks, for which the operating manual and engineering diagrams are left as an exercise to the pilot.

That is to say, a lot of the popularized philosophy and the actual technology are in completely different languages. The translation is often poor or nonexistent — a lot of the philosophy was born before we had technical knowledge to base it on.

Helicopter operating diagram (Original artwork: Kandinsky)

The dialogues I read about A.I. and art often center around questions such as:

  • Is A.I. art really art?
  • Can a machine be creative?
  • Will A.I. make artists obsolete?

I’ve come to view a lot of these questions as bordering on koans — they’re not koans by any strict definition, but the more you work with A.I. creatively, the more you realize that a lot of how these questions are phrased is structurally disconnected from the underlying reality of how A.I. and art actually work. At least the way I see it.

The remaining points are a loose set of axioms that I’ve found to be true in my explorations. It is also a vision of what I believe A.I. art has the potential to evolve into.

Alex Maki-Jokela

Artist, Communityist, Systems Thinker, Multi-Competency Engineer