Tradition, II: Why Robots Can’t Be Artists

Art is personal expression with environmental, social, and historical sensitivity. It is by nature reactionary, and therein lies great strength. Be it commentary, critique, challenge, ode, memorial, or else; art is unseverably tied to its world. Thus what is demanded of the artist is a certain depth of cultural involvement and a fruitful sort of sensitivity. These demand a historical understanding achievable only through both contemporary awareness and a grappling with tradition. A grappling with tradition can only be honest, and so fruitful and impactful, if practiced with empathy.

The creations of a machine necessarily devolve into that type of tradition which Eliot warned against: a tradition that follows past successes blindly or crassly in thoughtless imitation, or a type of innovation which is distant (do not read transcendent) from the world. This, then, is not the work of an artist.

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