Free will and the art object?

Executive summary


The article delves into the intricate relationship between free will and the creation of art objects, examining this through multiple lenses—determinism, personal identity, and the digital realm.

Firstly, the article questions the role of free will in artistic practices like action painting. While the spontaneous strokes of the brush may seem like an exercise of free will, the article posits that these actions are actually predetermined by neural activity and social influences. This deterministic view suggests that the art object is not a product of free will but rather a result of complex factors that include both cognitive and societal elements.

Secondly, the article explores the intriguing possibility that an art object could exist without a clearly identified artist. This raises questions about the nature of personal identity and its role in the creation of art. In such cases, the art object could be seen as a manifestation of free will, especially if it involves the transfer of intentional states from an undefined source. This adds a layer of complexity to the traditional understanding of free will in art, inviting us to consider the role of intentionality and identity.

Lastly, the article introduces the concept of digital replicas of artworks that can endlessly simulate themselves. This leads to a form of digital materialism where the replica becomes indistinguishable from the original, yet surpasses it in every possible way. This phenomenon challenges our understanding of free will in the context of art, as it blurs the lines between the creator and the creation.

In summary, the article offers a nuanced discussion on the role of free will in the creation and existence of art objects. It challenges the notion that art is solely a product of free will, suggesting instead that it is influenced by a myriad of deterministic factors. At the same time, it opens up new avenues for understanding free will through the lenses of personal identity and digital replication.

The art object as autonoma

The following argument places free will and the art object as an automation as a deterministic object. This is based on theory of transference (related articles). Consciousness transfers into art objects ostensibly through socially constructed states. There is an extreme example where the animated art object with cultural causal properties has a resemblance of a person without conscious states (form of p-zombie as philosophers example). The theory of transference entails the art object manifests through institutional structures. The evidence for this is early civilisation (Egypt) to modernity (galleries) and even in digital materialism as digital art (non-fudgable art). To unpack this further:

In the grand tapestry of philosophical discourse, the question of free will has been a recurring motif, akin to the leitmotif in a Wagnerian opera. The argument at hand posits that both free will and the art object are not autonomous entities but rather deterministic constructs. This is predicated on the theory of transference, a concept that suggests consciousness is channeled into art objects through socially constructed frameworks.

To illustrate this point, let us consider an allegorical extreme: an art object imbued with cultural significance yet devoid of conscious intent, much like the philosophical construct of a “philosophical zombie” or p-zombie. This art object, though seemingly sentient, is but a vessel for broader institutional forces. The theory of transference suggests that the art object is a manifestation not of individual will but of collective, institutional structures.

As evidence, one might traverse the annals of history, from the monumental art of ancient Egypt to the curated spaces of modern galleries, and even into the realm of digital art, with its non-fungible tokens. Each serves as a testament to the deterministic forces that shape art, much like the inexorable flow of a river carves the landscape. Thus, the art object becomes a mirror reflecting not just individual intent but the complex interplay of societal structures and norms.

The art object is a brain state.

It has manifestations of qualitative states as a neurological snap shot realisable as colour. The residual behavioural states are realisable through structural forms such as lines. Somewhat akin to what remains after a magnetic field has gone (iron filings in a position distinct from prior magnetic field). It is akin to free will and the art object boot strapping into a transcendent state space of consciousness through complex interdependent relationships with neural activity and sociological determinism. Let’s explore this further using metaphor as a philosophical intuition pump.

Imagine the art object as a snapshot of the mind, capturing a moment of thought and emotion much like a photograph captures light and color. Just as a camera’s lens focuses on a scene, the brain focuses on a specific emotional or intellectual state, translating it into art. The lines and shapes in the artwork are like footprints left in the sand, traces of the artist’s mental journey.

Think of it like a magnet that has been moved away from a pile of iron filings. Even after the magnet is gone, the iron filings remain, arranged in a pattern that reflects the magnet’s invisible force. In the same way, the art object is a lasting imprint of the artist’s mental state, shaped by both internal neural activity and external social influences.

Imagine the art object as a snapshot of the mind, capturing a moment of thought and emotion much like a photograph captures light and color. Just as a camera’s lens focuses on a scene, the brain focuses on a specific emotional or intellectual state, translating it into art. The lines and shapes in the artwork are like footprints left in the sand, traces of the artist’s mental journey.

Think of it like a magnet that has been moved away from a pile of iron filings. Even after the magnet is gone, the iron filings remain, arranged in a pattern that reflects the magnet’s invisible force. In the same way, the art object is a lasting imprint of the artist’s mental state, shaped by both internal neural activity and external social influences.

So, in essence, the art object serves as a bridge between the mind and the world, a tangible manifestation of complex interactions between personal free will and societal forces. It’s as if the art object lifts itself and the viewer into a higher realm of understanding, much like a hot air balloon rising into the sky, offering a broader view of the landscape below.

Free will as an elusion or simulated realism.

There is the niggling question of free will when it comes to certain art practices such as action painting (wiki) where notions of spontaneous action could be correlated with the philosophical concept of freewill. However one could argue that freewill is an illusion given the past facts of the self are deterministic and so too is action painting as a performance. The argument is that the action of painting, even random like strokes are deterministic. The very stroke by token that the painterly act may not predictable by the painter as the stroke was not crafted it is still causally connected to the world history. That is the hand doing the dribbling could go either way which appears free but is contained by biological determinism. There is a finite set of possible brush strokes that could be executed on the canvass as art object. If conceived from a micro neurological functionalism then the hand is connected to a set of a set of brain fibres firing which are determined by laws of physics qua cognitive an neurological states. So in this more fine grained sense the art object could never be a product of a persons free will and so it’s a free will elusion. So what could be another explanation to elusion is the deterministic nature of of institutional forces can excess a form of free will through the artist who is simulating a form of free will that is correlated with quantum indeterminacy. Therefore free will is not an elusion but is so if reduced to a biological sociolinguistic personal identity, however if personal identity is indexed to the macroscopic structures qua society the freewill argument appears plausible for creation of any art object. However the object is an artefact and not entirely attributed to one and only one person but a form of life. So put another way:

Imagine free will as a magician’s trick, a sleight of hand that captivates us in the realm of art, particularly in practices like action painting. At first glance, the artist’s spontaneous brushstrokes seem to embody free will, as unpredictable as a river’s flow. However, much like a river is confined by its banks, these strokes are not as free as they appear; they are guided by the invisible hand of biological and physical laws.

Consider the artist’s hand as a puppet on strings, controlled by a complex network of neural pathways firing in accordance with the laws of physics. In this sense, the art object is not a canvas of free will but rather a tapestry woven from predetermined threads. It’s as if the artist is a musician playing a predetermined melody, albeit with the illusion of improvisation.

Yet, there’s a twist in the tale. If we zoom out and consider the artist as part of a larger societal fabric, the notion of free will regains some credibility. It’s akin to a single note contributing to a grand symphony, where the collective expression transcends individual limitations. In this broader context, the art object becomes less an artifact of individual will and more a reflection of collective life, a communal dance to the tune of both determinism and possibility.

Free will as post materialist replication

It is imaginable for there to be artwork without an artist given personal identity paradoxes. This is a metaphysical possibility that could make the case for an authentic art work created entirely from free will. This form of of free will is associated transference of intentional states as in science fiction scenarios. A case would occur if a art work were simulated as a digital replica and that replica simulates it again and so on until a form of digital materialism emerged so as the artwork transcended the original in all possible ways yet identical to it.

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