I would like to offer a way of relating to generative AI, or creative technologies more broadly, which is neither afraid nor devalues our basic nature as creative actors.
I write these statements not to be true, but useful. I write them to have edges and friction which yield sparks when struck by your mind, to be made either true or untrue. I believe they carry aspects of truth, as good lies do, just as they fail, as all words must.
The creative act cannot be replaced by machines because no matter what capabilities are brought into the world, the nature of the creative act is to engage with something yet unseen.
There is no moat to engage in the creative act except what one carries inside oneself. No amount of skill or technique will make one’s creativity meaningful, only well-executed. The quality of this execution is ultimately meaningless.
There is no virtue in being capable of what others cannot do, as such acts have no intrinsic value. The fundamental value in a creative act is always the engagement with how one relates to oneself, and this target never ends. All other aspects are illusory.
New capabilities, whether acquired by practice or given by technology, compress time and therefore the creative terrain. Journeys which took years to express may become achievable in days, days in minutes. While new capabilities may change how we relate to the unseen, they do not change its nature. Time is infinite; the creative terrain is infinite. No matter what capabilities we develop, no matter how much we compress infinity, they remain infinite. We are, and always will be, where we started: in a finitely small pinhead-sized nothing, looking out at a forever vast unknown.
This lack of progress does not change the creative act–it defines it. There is no finishing and there is no destination. True creativity exists only as the process which unearths that which was unseen, whereby one continues to become. The work is never done.
No matter the things we might ask of a creative practice, obtaining them will not bring its end–only the possibility of one’s own complacency and abandonment of the process. To seek completion through creative practice is delusion.
Fighting against new capabilities is to be but a delay in the timeline. Doing so out of fear is to squander one’s energy. Doing so as creative exploration is just as valuable as embracing new capabilities.
Creativity is indifferent to our means and capacities in pursuing it, but not our intentions or mode.
The spirit of the creative act is exploration. New capabilities are not denied, but ignored in favor of that which aids exploration. When new capabilities aid exploration, they are embraced.
Exploration is always judged by the practitioner in relation to their practice and personal experience. To make exploration relative to society or other external phenomena forgets the fundamental value in the creative act (2b).
All aesthetics are personal aesthetics. What we share with or learn from one another is not something which exists out there as a genre or a movement, but inside each person who engages with it in their own practice and becoming.