A lot of what passes as art is really an understanding of rules. Here I am using "art" loosely to mean anything from fashion to design to painting a picture. The more rules you know, the better you are as an artist.

Let me give you an example from design. Say you want to design a magazine cover about a hot new type of consumer gadget. One idea for the cover involves a picture of the gadget and nothing more. The other idea involves a picture of a person who happens to be using the gadget. Which one do you pick?

Answer: The person using the gadget.

One of the rules of magazine covers is that you want to include humans whenever possible. Humans are wired to be more interested in other humans than anything else.

My wife and I are in the process of building a home and choosing all the details that will be in it. One of the choices involves doors. If you start the process by imagining all the possible doors in the universe, the task is overwhelming. But eventually you can figure out the rules, and that narrows your decisions. For example, you want most of your doors to look the same, or at least be in the same general vein. That's a rule. And the closer any two doors are, the more similar you want them to be. That's a rule. And once you have made a decision on the general style of the home, the door choices narrow by about 90%.

In the course of my Dilbert career I've posed for literally hundreds of photo shoots. I like to observe the photographers and figure out their rules. I know they always want the lamp removed from my desk. I know they want my computer "cheated" in a way that is unnatural for the user but looks good in pictures. I know the window behind my desk is going to be a lighting problem. And I know which six-or-so positions they are going to ask me to pose in.

This all makes me wonder how far computers will advance in creating art and design. My guess is "farther than you think." The limit will be our human ability to realize when we are using rules versus something squishy like judgment or having a "good eye" for something. Once the rules are understood and programmed into computers, they should exceed our skills at everything from architecture to fashion design.
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Mar 18, 2009
There are already Point and Shoot Cameras from Nikon that can do following:
1. They take picture as soon as the person !$%*!$%*!$% They inform if the person has eyes closed.
3. They adjust the lighting etc by themselves.
4. They can identify upto 7 human faces in picture and focus accordingly.

Your friend,
Mar 18, 2009
Mmmph, I think I prefer a magazine cover with only a gadget that one that has some disgusting human person holding the gadget. Some of the magazines that have immediately grabbed my attention are ones on which a big, nice, shiny gadget is displayed.

Is there something wrong with me? *starts rubbing computer* ooooh, yeeaaahh...
Mar 18, 2009
If we want computers to design fashions, it is not that hard. I don't think much skill is required. The fashion of wearing clothes too big for you and halfway off came mainly from drug addicts who paid more attention to their drug habits than, say, eating (hence they got skinnier) and grooming. Then it just caught on in the mainstream as a big fashion statement.

The most important part of fashion design is that it changes arbitrarily so that people will have to constantly buy new clothes. As long as ties get wider and narrower and skirts get shorter and longer, etc., the rest is largely arbritrary and irrelevant.

Mar 18, 2009
De gustibus non est disputandum ?

I don't think so - QED.

Mar 18, 2009
You forgot a "Rule of Grammar" in the last paragraph of your post... Your guess would be "further than you think", not "farther"...

Mar 18, 2009
didn't you spoof this in the "Blue Duck" episode of the series? (one of my favorites, BTW!)
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Mar 18, 2009
i would generally agree with your statement but would take objection at two points:

1.) Art vs Design
It's not the same. Design *is* 90% rule-following, there isn't that much inspiration needed - technically. As far as i know, nobody has yet defined good art the way good design has been defined.

2.) Your experience vs Photography
I work as an Art Director in advertising. I would agree that the actual design part of my job (which i don't even do myself much anymore but my juniors/interns) is pretty straightforward. My job however, is more one of looking at (correctly designed) things and find out what works in conjunction with other (correctly designed) things, find a focus, an arrangement, a concept and a style that pulls everything together. While trained monkeys could typeset a paragraph, take a photo or design a logo, I can't see them (or computers) doing this in a larger context where you have to put everything together in a way that makes sense and works. They couldn't take a series of photographs of several comic artists and arrange them together so that they're coherent yet individual enough for the specific authors for example. That's where the 10% come in that were missing above. a big part of the actual work is quite mechanic, but to have it all come together meaningfully - that is a little bit (no more than 10% realistically) like Art, and not quite as automizable.
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