“perturbing the present to create a future”

william smith
4 min readJun 2, 2019

The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the color of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it.” — Leonardo Da Vinci.

D.E. Berlyne argued that the psychophysical concept of “ arousal ” was especially relevant to the study of art. The trick was to be new and surprising without drifting too far from expectation that arousal turned to aversion. The challenge for the artist is the push to arousal or dissonance must not be so great that his art hits the downslope of the Wundt curve. There’s a maximum hedonic value the artist is after.

Dr. Antonio Damasio’s has explained how feelings are “mental experiences of body states,” which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli…having feelings somehow allows us also to have creations that are responses to those feelings.

Using an algorithm a machine can paint a scene like the one on the left which combines the elements of various painters but it remains to be seen if it’s any “more attractive” than the one on the right, painted with the mind and hand of Vincent van Gogh. In fact van Gogh may have painted his Starry Night without even thinking about what he was painting. He likely created it emotionaly, letting his brush be moved by his hand more by “feeling” than thought.

Nowadays, algorithms possess a skill that we human beings don’t have: they can assess enormous amounts of data and make sense of it.” At the same time human beings possess a skill algorithms don’t have: we feel enormous amounts of emotions and often make no sense of it until we have concluded doing whatever we were doing at the time. — Marcus Du Sautoy.

Van Gogh likely never knew how Starry Night would “feel” until he did.

Most creativity stems from the idea of perturbing the present to create a future that has some connection to the present but nonetheless breaks from it.” — Marcus Du…

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