Michael Braverman portfolio / personal site

Ossacip Bot

Procedural Art

@OssacipBot on Twitter
OssacipBot on Github

A Twitter bot that generates procedural artwork using a trigonometric formula, node.js, and Processing 3.

This bot explores the boundaries of authorship for artwork generated by autonomous systems. When an autonomous system develops to a point where it has a decent form of computational creativity, a re-examination of its copyrights would most likely be necessary. If this examination doesn’t happen, the aesthetics and even morals that determine what is art and what is not art, would most likely have to be redefined. It seems that a non-human entity might not relate to the traditional notions of a human-produced artifact.

On the other hand, we humans have drastically altered the mediums and technologies through which our artistry is expressed and conveyed. This can be demonstrated by the evolution of our art mediums – what began with Neanderthal cave paintings, continues with the advent of digital and virtual art mediums of today. But is there a difference between a tool used as leverage for producing art (such as a paint brush or a computer mouse), and an entity that can autonomously generate art? When a non-human entity gains the ability to produce art, could art still be defined as an outlet of human expression, or should it be categorized as something else (perhaps as a commodified kind of entertainment)? What is the limit of what we define an agent that produces artwork “decent” enough to have a copyright attribution? If art extends beyond the boundaries of an expressive performing artifact, art might define just about any object/visual that is subject to manipulation.

The technologies behind this bot, allow it to autonomously generate procedural artwork for an indefinite amount of time with near infinite combinations. The bot produces visuals with a form of marvel that might justify it to have a certain artistic quality. For one thing, a trigonometric formula is the underlying mechanism behind the visual generation and is not a completely uncharted form of art. Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man and M.C. Escher’s illusive geometric depictions are perfect examples of art that involves math. Ossacip Bot however, might not seem to posses the justifiable quality of uniqueness that can formally approve its artistry. It’s inner functioning is exposed to the internet that allows it to have an indefinite number of instances. Someone may choose to create millions of instances of this bot and flood the internet with fractal animations. Given the correct existential goals and scientific advancements, some hypothetical alien civilization might choose to use all the stardust in the universe to construct as many instances of Ossacip Bot as possible. This demonstrates the material and commodity-like nature the lies behind autonomously generated art and media.

The question that welcomes an answer, is what is the boundary between art and a material artifact when it comes to artwork generated/produced by an autonomous system? Is expression a necessary prerequisite for defining a legitimate art piece? Where is the boundary between a tool used as a mean for artistic expression, and a “tool” that autonomously produces artwork? Given the fact that objects with lacking cognitive abilities cannot produce an intelligible artist statement, can an autonomous system even have the right for artistic authorship?