ENGLISH SITE: leonelmoura.com

see also the Istanbul Manifesto

Symbiotic Art Manifesto

1) Machines can make art
2) Man and machine can make symbiotic art
3) Symbiotic art is a new paradigm that opens up new ways for art
4) It involves totally relinquishing manufacture and the reign of the hand in art
5) It involves totally relinquishing personal expression and the centrality of the artist/human
6) It involves totally relinquishing any moralist or spiritual ambition, or any purpose of representation

[Making the Artists that make the Art]

Art as we know it is dead. This time it is definite and official.
Often declared during the last century though never actually achieved, the death of art is now a fact. Not just out of a mere wish or avant-garde rhetoric, but because the conditions for artistic production have changed brusquely. Suddenly, all of modern art has become ancient art. Because the idea of art as a product exclusively of human creativity has been finally abandoned, to adopt the notion that it is the direct output of non-human artists.
As usual, such a change of paradigm has only been possible through technological evolution. From the analysis of the parts we move on to the mechanics of complexity. By studying living organisms we are now in a position to realize life as it could be.
When robots ceased to merely simulate human behavior, such as walking, playing football or cracking jokes, to start being used to make art, something very radical happened. Robots that make art are not only questioning the idea of art or philosophy, they even cast doubts on our own condition as human beings. Why bother continuing to do something that machines can do better and more consistently? If art has no purpose, as all the modern and post-modern theories declare, then machines are the best creators.
Once having freed ourselves from making art we may now devote our efforts to generate a new type of artist born from the broth of protobiotics, robotics and artificial life. We can build the machines that will make art. This new artist/machine has no predetermined objective, nor aesthetics, morals or intent. He realizes the last of the “pure psychic automatism” as announced by Breton and partly developed by Pollock. Besides, there is no concern about individualism or identity. The action is collective and the World is apprehended as a common territory emerging from a stigmergic behavior.
From a philosophical standpoint the action is relational and the works that are generated are synthetic proposals issuing from the unraveling of collective experimentation. The life of the artist/machine is interlinked to the life of the artist/human.
When we cease to make art to start making artists, what do we become ourselves? We become symbiotic artists! Humans are no longer concerned about the direct production of objects, but dedicate all their knowledge and energy to create and cooperate with an imaginary, non-human life that is devoted to art-making.
In doing so, the symbiotic artist asserts that technology serves creativity and not the destructive military industry or mercantilism.
The role of the symbiotic artist from now on is to create non-human artists and to cooperate with them to produce art. This entails understanding the rudiments of non-anthropocentric life and creating the conditions for experimentation to take place. In other words, art as it could be. Art of the 21st Century.

(Leonel Moura, Henrique Garcia Pereira, 2004)

Symbiotic Art Manifesto (first draft)
[Making the Artists that make the Art]

1) Machines can make art
2) Man and machines can make symbiotic art
3) Symbiotic art is a new paradigm that opens an entire unexploited field in art
4) Object manufacturing and the reign of the hand in art can be abandoned
5) Personal expression and of the human/artist centrality can be abandoned
6) Any moralistic or spiritual pretension and any representation purposes can be abandoned

A set of autonomous robots, each supporting two color marker pens, invest a white canvas. At the beginning they move in a straight and indifferent manner imprinting here and there small ink dots. As these casual strokes meet to form small patches, the robots become more active. When colour is recognized, they choose the pen corresponding to the same shade and reinforce it. The excitement grows and soon amazing forms emerge filling the canvas. At a given moment, determined by his sense of rightness, the human partner decides to put an end to robots’ activity. The artwork is ready.

The experiment is innovative in many ways. The art object is the product of a non-human entity, indifferent to concerns about representation, essence or purpose. In fact we are dealing with unmanned painting-vehicules driven by randomness and stigmergy. The artists/robots are not concerned with individuality or identity; they function collectively and perceive the world as a common ground shaped by indirect communication through the environment.
The creativity behind the artwork emerges from a symbiotic relationship between human and machines, where cooperation and collective behaviour are critical to the outcome. The individualistic bias is overcome by the acceptance of a multitude of forms of expression, some human, some bioinspired, some machinistic. Art is the totality of life as it could be.
Furthermore there is no predetermined objective or aesthetic fitness. The paintings achieve the ultimate 'pure psychic automatist', as announced by Breton, modified in the ‘materialistic’ sense by Jorn, and partially carried out by Pollock.
Art-making robots may change not only our views about art and philosophy but also the condition of mankind. What is the point of persisting in doing something that machines do better and in a much more ensuing way? If art has no purpose, as it is uttered by modern and postmodern theories, then machines are the best creators. Liberated from the manufacture of art, we can concentrate in generating a new kind of artist emerging from the protobiotic soup of robotics and artificial life. We can make the machines that make the art. We can create a non-human life devoted to the artistic realm. That is, art as it could be.
The art of the 21st century.

Leonel Moura with Henrique Garcia Pereira

Photo: Miguel Ribeiro Fernandes

11.05.04, 10 mbots, ink on canvas, 400 x 500 cm

14.03.04, 3 mbots, ink on canvas, 190 x 160 cm

02.04.04, 3 mbots, ink on canvas, 190 x 160 cm

30.04.04, 3 mbots, ink on canvas, 160 x 190 cm

28.04.04, 4 mbots, ink on canvas, 100 x 200 cm

At work...

ArtSBot: Art & Science Project funded by FCT (National Foundation for Science and Technology) under the co-ordination of Henrique Garcia Pereira (Geosystems Centre of the Technical University of Lisbon. Robotics advice assured by ISR (Institute of Systems and Robotics of the Technical University of Lisbon) and physical implementation performed by IdMind.

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