Automation anonymizes – or at least we tend to think it does,
for in many instances the machine distances its procedure from the bent of human creativity – sterilizing traces of the individual, or so we’re told. We seek refuge in art, romanticize it as a beacon of humanity and individuality, a spontaneous outpouring that stands in stark contrast to the mechanistic, algorithmic, automated. Yet upon closer inspection, the creative process itself appears simultaneously systematic and spontaneous, hinting at underlying structure that may serve as a fingerprint of creative identity.
In Mind the Machine, Martin and Schwettmann set out to re-humanize the concept of process, searching there for structure characteristic of the individual. Schwettmann’s algorithm extracts a representation of Martin’s artistic identity from her 400 drawings exhibited in the gallery and completes new works in her distinctive style: a deliberate dance, meandering in patterns. A robotic plotter performs the algorithm’s creations, dissociating artwork that conjures the experience of Martin’s identity from her physical hand in creating it.
Here, automation is all but anonymyzing – instead it captures, highlights, elevates the identity of a single artist. Yet this affirmation of individual style raises the question: what happens when artistic identity can be implemented on platforms that automate the creative process? Who minds the machine?
Sarah Schwettmann, June 2017