CHArt TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Seeing…Vision and Perception in a Digital Culture
Simone Gristwood, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Amalgamating vision: photography, artificial intelligence and visual art
This paper discusses the relationship between the emergence of photography in the nineteenth century, and artificial intelligence in the twentieth. At first glance the two may seem to have little in common. Whilst connections have been made between photography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these links have been limited to the development of digital cameras or later technological or scientific discoveries of the late twentieth century. These connections do have some relevance and photography and what it represents has had a great impact on the twentieth century.
However photography has also addressed implications which would appear again in the twentieth century in a way which is often overlooked. This paper will argue that many reactions and debates that arose with the development of artificial intelligence and computer imaging in the mid twentieth century were not only related to the changes that occurred at that time, but that that had already begun to be addressed in the previous century through responses to the invention of photography. Their connections are strengthened through the visual, not only by the role they played in altering our understanding of vision, but also by providing new visual experiences and understandings of the way we see ourselves.
In 1992 in the Introduction to his book Techniques of the Observer Jonathan Crary declared that there was a ‘transformation in the nature of visibility probably more profound than the break that separates medieval imagery from Renaissance perspective’. This remark relates to the increasing development of computers and computer techniques that Crary suggests were part of a ‘sweeping reconfiguration’ of the observer and modes of representation. By using Crary, and referring to and combining research into the history of photography, Artificial Intelligence and visual art (related to photography and Artificial Intelligence), this paper will show how Crary’s observation was actually part of a transformation that began to take place much earlier.
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