[NetBehaviour] analogy and AI poetry

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 17 18:46:25 CEST 2021

Hi Marc,

Vis a vis Frankenstein and monsters, the famous Walter Pater once decoded Leonardo's Esperienza as a vampire.  I believe this is mainly because she endures, but serves neither the viewer nor any codified cultural duty.  In other words, she is alive and free.

In fact, contra Pater, I would argue that Esperienza is the opposite of vampirism.  If viewed as a simulated person, or what Sadie Plant called an interactive modern artwork disguised as a Renaissance portrait, perhaps Esperienza can collaborate with us today somewhat as Mary and Percy (as just two examples) can?  Which is to say, in the way of what may be thought of as a relational innoculation or "breathing space," figuratively speaking.

Only our insistence that not everyone is an artist could interpret Experience as a vampire.

All best,


PS -- Experiment devoid of Experience is perhaps the basic recipe for all monsters (from the Latin for "births of ill omen").

From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of marc garrett via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 17, 2021 4:45 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: marc garrett <marc.garrett2 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] analogy and AI poetry

Hi Eryk,

I thought I'd chime in at this point.

Firstly, are you aware of -- An Open P2P Resource for AI technology: Art, Academia and Activism?

A list project I published in September 2020. An open knowledge list for all to add to, use, and share with others. Created for the cultural production of AI: investigating various methods, such as: computer vision, artificial intelligence, neurorobotics, speech recognition, generative writing, generative music, image manipulation, statistical modelling. This page will be updated by myself and the community every now and then.

Also, I know you're aware of Mary Shelley Re-animated (because you're in it) which should hopefully be published by the end of August or beginning to mid-September.

Some of the concerns are examined in the publication "The exhibitions Monsters of the Machine and Children of Prometheus critique the ideas of Kurzweil and Diamandis through the deployment of Mary Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein as a cautionary spectre, to simultaneously challenge and draw attention to the overconfident, white, male, patriarchal domination of corporations and technological industries that exists today. Furthermore, the project critiques our relationship with technology in society by using grounded interpretations of Shelley’s Frankenstein and related themes, which ask us to reconsider her warning that scientific imagining and resultant technologies have unintended and dramatic consequences. Finally, the exhibitions invited us to ask the same about the arts and the human imagination and consider how technology operates today as a monster in the machine of art."

Can't wait for when it's out. Especially to unpack some of the varied discussions by contributors in the book.

Wishing you well.


On Fri, 16 Jul 2021 at 14:20, Eryk Salvaggio via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
Max, Paul & all;

Thanks for all the thought-provoking links, everyone.

Sometimes there are shades of panic in the way I see AI art. It’s like the machine is getting deep into my psyche, colonizing the culture as data and spitting something out that barely resembles art or beauty or play. I think that reflects the weaponized ideology of broader data practices today: this is exactly what machine learning is doing, often to catastrophic results. And much of that comes from how we imagine the links between our imaginations and the machine’s “imagination.”

The machine’s "imagination" (whatever happens in "latent space," which seems to be the term we're using) is reaching to find patterns and relationships, even when such patterns and relationships may not exist. We hope that the way we take art into our minds is something different. But I don’t know for sure.

At the moment, I can only respond to this machine “imagination” in the same way that we find meaning within a human-produced painting, or poem, or film, or television advertisement. We imagine ourselves within those worlds. We do this within our private mental spaces, but we hand over some internal control to the artists, poets, or marketing agencies. When we do, our story and their stories become temporarily intertwined with something external. Whether we are being manipulated by poets or design houses, we know it was human, and trying to meet us.

With few exceptions, even the most alienating and experimental of these communication forms are shaped by that desire for human comprehension. Machines, in simulating art, do so without any desire to connect or reassure us. The machine is not concerned with being understood, because it doesn’t, and cannot, understand. It’s the cold indifference of a machine. In the distance between us and it, we project all that we fear from the Other: infallible, all-knowing, all-aware — and so we imagine the very things that make them so frightening. I am used to the sense that the screen is always there to take something from me, package it up, and offer it back through the recommendation of some distant system. So, I am also bringing that to my interactions with the system, in how I interpret (imagine) what it is doing. Generative art systems don't "do this," I do it to them.

The uncanniness — that close-but-not-quite-human quality of machine generated text and images — is a different way of intermingling imaginations because we imagine it to be different. The image quality is not so clear, and so the limits of the machine imagination intertwines with a human desire to be immersed. I can see my own imagination reaching, and how sometimes imagination fails, and unmasking that lie can be terrifying. (The Lacanian "Real," etc.)


On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 3:38 PM Paul Hertz via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:
There's an essay, "Intelligence Without Representation" that Brooks wrote in 1987, http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/papers/representation.pdf, that offered what was then a new point of view on how to consider AI.

// Paul

On Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 2:10 PM Paul Hertz <ignotus at gmail.com<mailto:ignotus at gmail.com>> wrote:
Hi Max,

The robotics researcher Rodney Brooks back in the late 1980s argued the AI based on the construction of a "knowledge base" was bound to fail. He made the case that a robot adapting to an environment was far more likely to achieve intelligence of the sort that humans demonstrate precisely because it was embodied. Some of his ideas are presented in the movie Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, directed ISTR by Errol Morris. If you haven't seen it yet, I can recommend it.

-- Paul

On Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 1:38 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:

Hi all,

I know virtually nothing about AI, beyond what the letters stand for, but noticed this new article in Quanta Magazine.  Does it pertain at all?  Interestingly it concludes that in order for AI to be human-like it will need to understand analogy, the basis of abstraction, which may require it to have a body!  🙂


I have been interested in the book GEB by Hofstadter for some time, and have been researching how it was referenced (specifically its Chapter IV "Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry" and its Introduction) by Italo Calvino in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, so Mitchell's connection to Hofstadter and GEB is interesting on a general level.

Coincidentally I contacted her a year ago to ask about the Calvino connection but she replied she hadn't read any Calvino or the Six Memos.  However, his titles for the six memos -- Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency -- might be exactly the kinds of "bodily" senses AI will need to have!

All best,



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Wishing you well



Dr Marc Garrett

Co-founder & Artistic director of Furtherfield & DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab

Furtherfield disrupts & democratises art and technology through exhibitions, labs & debate, for deep exploration, open tools & free thinking. http://www.furtherfield.org

DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab is an arts, blockchain & web 3.0 technologies research hub for fairer, more dynamic & connected cultural ecologies & economies now. http://decal.is/

Recent publications:

State Machines: Reflections & Actions at the Edge of Digital Citizenship, Finance, & Art. Edited by Yiannis Colakides, Marc Garrett, Inte Gloerich. Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2019 http://bit.do/eQgg3

Artists Re:thinking the Blockchain. Eds, Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett, Nathan Jones, & Sam Skinner. Liverpool Press - http://bit.ly/2x8XlMK
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