I am a quizzer. Which means, often I must research about things I do not like. Coming second on my ‘hate-list’ is Art.
But before we begin, sit back and relax. Let me take you back some 15 years. My mom, just like your mom, thought I had a lot of talent in me. So my mom, just like your mom, put me in drawing class (to harness my talent of course).
It did not turn out well. At the end of the first two years of training, I could only draw ghosts. Basically, I tried to draw human figures. But every time I finished a masterpiece, I could only justify them as anthropomorphic ghosts. There were folks in my drawing class regularly getting awards! And there was I, sitting in the corner, erasing my fourth attempt to draw a Sun that was as at least as round as an American football.
Middle school happened. Drawings became more… representative. One of my favorite things to draw as a middle schooler was the water cycle diagram. It was after all the first 3D looking thing I had drawn:
The highlight in high school was to draw the cell body of course. It wasn’t so easy. After you made all the internal ‘things’, you had to put lots of dots in the free space to show “ribosomes”.
It was a complicated affair. Put too many dots, and the diagram looked clumsy. Put too few, and there were just not enough ribosomes!
Higher secondary was colorless. There were no colours in my textbooks, my notebooks, or my life for that matter.
Somehow, the Science book publishers collectively decided that pink and blue are amazing colours to make the subjects even more interesting.
Everything became a block diagram. An artist was lost.
Art made its revival in college. Since I had started quizzing in college, it was often common that I’d find myself in a quiz, staring at a question on Art and having no clue whatsoever. Whatever art question came my way, I used to just flip a coin between Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.
But one day, I said to myself “Enough is enough”. For the next few days, I researched on art and artists throughout the ages. I discovered:
The field of art is very fascinating. No two critics will ever agree on anything, and there is no parameter for a good painting. But this uncertainty is what makes art so strange, so unlike anything else. It is difficult to rate artwork using a computer algorithm.
Think about it: A real Mona Lisa, and a fake Mona Lisa will have the same aesthetic value to the computer’s eye.
Then you add variables, such as the fact that the real one was painted years ago. But if that’s what we are going by, will something I sketch today be worth millions years from now?
So what are we really paying for, when we buy a painting? Do we pay for its aesthetic value? Do we pay for the story behind it? Or, do we simply pay for the signature?*
All said and done, I do not see AI taking over art just yet. So if you’re worried about the damn robots stealing your jobs, your best bet is to try and become the Chief Minister of West Bengal. And then sell some paintings.
*PS: I researched quite a bit on how pieces of art are priced: why one ugly painting sells for a lot more than that beautiful sketch you saw on the roadside. I will write about it in my next newsletter, in January. To get it, click here. Sorry for doing this, but nobody is subscribing 🙁