Showing posts with label Hangups. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hangups. Show all posts

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Debating Artificial Intelligence

I have begun exploring the vast terrain of material available online, and the uncanny abilities of artificial intelligence to construct imagery according to my prompts.

I mean to explore possibilities and dilemmas infusing AI to produce artistic visual imagery. I have thrown myself into the AI world and published a few results online on Facebook in my feed and in group forums and immediately there has been great debate initiated. Reactions have been strikingly polar. Images I have posted have been met with surprise, love and glee. Also, vehemence, hatred and fear.  It seems I have been through this before during the course of my artistic journey in life. I am thinking of my HangUps series of paintings and more recently, my skeleton art.

Big Mac Hangup, oil on linen, 2004

Los Jugadores de Tarjeta, oil on canvas, 2023

If I were not to share the product of my pursuit, there would be no discussion. I am not going to quote some of the negative comments I have received after posting a few AI images I authored.
This is a succinct explanation offered by AI in response to my inquiry:

Why are people against AI artwork?

The attitudes toward AI-generated artwork vary, and not everyone is against it. However, some people express concerns or reservations for several reasons:
1. Authenticity and Creativity Concerns: Some argue that true creativity involves emotions, intuition, and personal experiences, elements that are considered unique to human beings. They may feel that AI lacks the genuine creativity and emotional depth found in human-generated art.
2. Job Displacement: There are concerns about the impact of AI on traditional artistic professions. If AI can generate artwork efficiently, some worry that it might replace human artists, leading to job displacement in the creative industries.
3. Ethical Considerations: There are ethical concerns related to ownership and attribution. For example, questions may arise about who owns the rights to AI-generated art, and how credit should be given when the creation involves both human and machine collaboration.
4. Loss of Human Touch: Some people appreciate the imperfections and personal touch in human-created art. AI-generated art, being algorithmically precise, might be perceived as lacking the warmth and unique touch that comes from the human hand.
5. Concerns about Bias: If the AI algorithms are trained on biased datasets, there is a risk that the generated artwork may reflect or perpetuate existing biases present in the training data.
6. Devaluation of Traditional Artistry: Critics argue that the ease with which AI can produce art might lead to a devaluation of traditional artistic skills and craftsmanship, as people may start to prioritize the convenience of AI-generated art over handmade or traditionally crafted pieces.
It's important to note that these concerns are not universally held, and many see the potential for AI to complement human creativity rather than replace it. AI-generated art has also been celebrated for its innovative and unique qualities. As technology continues to advance, ongoing discussions about the ethical, societal, and artistic implications of AI in various fields, including art, are likely to persist.

AI creation

I am of the opinion that AI can compliment human creativity rather than replace it. I will add it to my toolbox.
Someone might say, “Use this power wisely for the benefit of mankind and never be attached to it.” Another might likely say, “Let us explore these new lands and see what is there, then make use of our experiences.” Or, as an artist and sensualist, a person might say, “Bah, be gone with this trap. It lacks touch and feel. One cannot sculpt it into a thing of beauty that can be touched and perceived from every side.”

No matter for me, the intrepid explorer. I am seeing this phenomenal invention as a way to further explore the visual world in all of its infinite dimension.

AI creation

Here is a positive look at AI, produced by AI:

Why are people for AI artwork?
Many people support AI-generated artwork for several reasons:
1. Innovation and Creativity: AI can produce novel and unique artistic creations that may not be easily conceived by humans. This introduces a new dimension of creativity and expands the possibilities of artistic expression.
2. Collaboration with Humans: AI can be viewed as a tool for collaboration rather than a replacement for human artists. Many artists use AI as a creative tool, leveraging its capabilities to enhance their own artistic process and explore new ideas.
3. Efficiency and Productivity: AI can generate artwork quickly and efficiently, saving time for artists and allowing them to focus on other aspects of their creative process. This efficiency can be particularly beneficial in commercial and design contexts.
4. Accessibility: AI tools democratize art creation by making it more accessible to a broader audience. Individuals without traditional artistic skills can use AI platforms to create visually appealing designs, fostering a more inclusive and diverse art community.
5. Exploration of Styles and Techniques: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to learn various artistic styles and techniques. This allows artists to experiment with different artistic influences and create diverse works of art.
6. Assistance in Creative Process: AI can serve as a source of inspiration, helping artists overcome creative blocks or providing suggestions that can be integrated into their work. Some artists appreciate the challenge of incorporating AI-generated elements into their pieces.
7. Technological Advancement: Supporters of AI-generated art believe that embracing technological advancements is a natural progression in the art world. They see AI as a tool that can coexist with traditional artistic practices, leading to new and exciting possibilities.
8. Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The intersection of art and technology allows for interdisciplinary collaboration between artists, engineers, and researchers. This collaborative approach can lead to the development of innovative projects that push the boundaries of traditional artistic mediums.

Ultimately, the support for AI-generated artwork is rooted in the belief that technology can be harnessed to enhance and complement human creativity, leading to a richer and more diverse artistic landscape. The integration of AI into the art world is seen by many as an opportunity for exploration, experimentation, and the evolution of artistic expression.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Dance of Death

Over the years I have come to realize my best artwork elicits strong reactions and not necessarily favorable. People have cried in front of my paintings. I have been assaulted in fury, with invectives hurled. Folks have swooned. 
Most of my career has been as a landscape painter. From the start of life I have been a nature boy. In school I often gazed out the windows to the landscape beyond, wishing to be free as a bird. I am tactile, feeling things to help me connect and understand. Thankfully the world has responded to my creative efforts and I have been able to make a living as an artist all my adult life. 

Keeping Score, oil on linen, 28 x 22 inches  c. 1996 

I struggle to make work that pushes boundaries and reaches into human psychology. A painting series called Hangups, begun in 1993 and continued for a decade were faces hanging from clothespins suspended on lines. The images originated in my subconscious. With the contortions and props, they elicited a wide range of emotions, from happiness to comic laughter, frustration, anger and repulsion. One, called Van Gogh All Hung Up, is in the permanent collection of the Foundation Van Gogh, in Arles France.

French, Middle Ages

Here in Oaxaca, Mexico, I have been working on a series of “Memento Mori” paintings. The Latin phrase literally means, "Remember that you must die." Each time I begin work on one, I touch raw feelings such as sadness or grief. Also come feelings of closure, laughter and relief. 
The famous French painter Matisse made the statement: “Art should be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue.” I say that is not all art must be.  

The biggest annual festival in Oaxaca is Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It is time of remembrance and celebration of souls departure from this earthly existence. Most Mexicans consider death as not just a misfortune but also an ultimate state of liberation. Many positive images associated with the skeleton can be found in Mexican culture.

Skeletons in art have a long history. Some of the most memorable works in my mind are by Albrecht Durer, Pieter Breughel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch⏤famous artists from medieval times. In the Middle Ages the skeleton started to be used artistically as a personification of Death, i.e. in Dance of Death artworks, and as a symbolic element in other 'macabre' artistic themes with memento mori content, such as the Triumph of Death.

Detail from Pieter Breughel the Elder, Triumph of Death, 1562

In these contemporary times, the dance of death continues with different plagues: world wide pandemics, global warming and the ensuing natural calamities, wars, famines . . . you get the picture.  Death does not care, it comes to all that live. The skeleton represents spirit released of the body; a medium that connects life and death, conscious and unconscious. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Bizarre Thought

Political Hangups oil on linen, 18 x 24 inches
It all started with a bizarre thought that came to my mind many years ago in 1993. A couple of faces hanging from a clothesline like laundry hung to dry. I had no idea where the mental picture came from or why it arrived in the moment. I was driving on a lonely road on the way home from working at my art gallery. Another odd thought arrived on its heels; that I must paint it.

The painting I made promptly exhibited and sold. It was all so curious that more were created. Most arrived in the span of a few years. During twenty years over thirty paintings came. Many sold, but they were on the verge of madness and often took quite long to be bought—if at all. I remember having a show at my gallery, called Hangups. The entire front room was filled with them. 

A young woman worked for me and had an uneven temperament. She could drink heavily at times but was quite brilliant. The show lasted for two weeks and she worked at a desk in the same room. The day the paintings came down and were replaced with landscapes, she almost cried tears of relief. I was surprised, and to this day remember her reaction. They are not easy paintings . . .
I had to quit at one point because I was becoming mentally unbalanced. I discontinued showing them but made a collection.

The last time I made one was over six years ago. This year, with the election heating up here in America, and the two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seeming to be ubiquitous and constantly in the news, I ventured to make another Hangup painting with the two of them. Now that it is done, as people see it they laugh. It breaks the serious fighting that has been part of the issue of these presidential elections . . and casts the whole matter in a humorous if not morbid light. 

I am sure some people will not find the new painting funny. That has been true all along. The paintings cause reactions—either you laugh or get mad.
Click on the image above to see the book!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Tightrope Walker

Being an artist is like being a tightrope walker, trying to keep balanced between creativity and staying in public favor. To lose either is to fall, but losing creativity is death, whereas public favor is capricious, not essential for life. Most artists depend upon public sanction and approval in order to provide for themselves and family. Everyone knows the tragic story of Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890). He passionately gave his talents to the world, but the public did not receive his gifts. Thus he was impoverished and depended upon the charity of his brother to survive. At the tender age of 37, he killed himself, and then some years later when public taste shifted, his work gained favor. Now, van Gogh is an icon and his work is among the most sought after in the world. And what if he had acknowledged and followed advice? We all would be poorer if he had conformed to the taste required by society and painted academic paintings with subdued tones and little flair or personality. Then, his unique and wondrous gift of authenticity would have been diminished and blighted and his greatest work would not have been achieved.

In contrast, Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) set the world on fire and after a brief initial struggle getting established, had the public eating out of his hand. Much of his work could not be understood, but perhaps because society was hungry for change and he was the man of the hour and capable of fantastic feats of creativity, his bold advances were met enthusiastically and he became very rich. His art is also among the most sought after in the world.

Common advice for an artist is to create a niche and be identified much as commercial brands are recognized. Then, grow the brand.  Most artists do this.  Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, or even Jackson Pollock, are painters who settled upon a technique and then harvested results. This practice extends to other art forms, such as poetry and writing, where some are haiku writers or fiction novelists, but not both. Very few are like Leonardo daVinci, a painter, inventor, sculptor, poet and scientist.

I admit that the public sometimes factors into my thoughts when I am in my studio. I have had success as a landscape painter, but other work has met with less enthusiasm. Some of my paintings, like the Hangup series, (faces hanging from clothespins on a line), have met with delight and wonder, but also revulsion and hatred. When I made the first, I was responding to a quirky inner vision, not public taste. I had decided to follow through with an odd momentary vision, and eventually produced thirty-five paintings. At one point I stopped painting, since I felt I was coming unglued, but now count the Hangup paintings as among my most important work. To prove the point, one of them, Van Gogh, All Hung Up is part of the permanent collection of the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh, in Arles, France, among paintings by luminaries of contemporary art.

Writing, photography, painting, drawing, making books, graphic design, public speaking, traveling, meditation, philosophy . . . the main thing is to follow the thread of the heart.

Visit the Steven Boone website.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Last week I finished a painting and gave it the title, Hung up With Money. It seems that every human being on the planet is in relationship with money. Outwardly, money is simply paper or coins—not as attractive as nature, or useful as food or shelter, but money has perceived value that is trusted so that it can be bartered universally. In work, people provide services in exchange for money, and money can also be exchanged for gold. It has the perception of importance.
In THE DREAM, money has no importance. Experience is the only value and truth. I live in the THE DREAM, so money plays a secondary role. But I also live in society, and money is a primary component of almost all aspects of society. I feel compelled to be in relationship with money, and if not, then almost immediately, society exerts pressure to bring money to mind.
My painting represents the absurdity of money, society, human life and perceptions. The clothesline represents time and space, where everything hangs and is trapped. Flesh disintegrates and returns to dust after a century on "the timeline", but money does not. The newspaper is the Wall Street Journal, which is devoted to economics. The pen might be used for writing ideas related to money, and the half eaten apple represents feast or famine, opposite sides of one coin.
To see more of my HangUps, go to: