A 21st-c. Readymade

Beneath moon’s bright gaze
Whispers of wild night’s allure
Dog dreams chase the light

AI. Have any two letters caused such hand wringing and gnashing of teeth?

These two letters have caused many to warn about some sort of an impending catastrophe: the loss of countless jobs to computers; humanity’s economic subjugation to the soulless cloud; some kind of Skynet; or worse, the eradication of the human race.

However, there are some that are optimistic, like me, who think that AI might lead to some positive opportunities. Or maybe I/we are just naïve.

In my optimism/naivety, I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT lately. Sometimes its answers are flat-out wrong (no, ChatGPT, Romania is not larger than Poland); sometimes the answers are useful (define “readymade” in the context of 20th-century art), and sometimes they’re just silly (write a sonnet in the style of Shakespeare about a dog’s love for his bone). Of course, I shouldn’t blame ChatGPT for that last one because I provided that prompt.

I find AI interesting when I consider it through the lens of the “readymade.“

“Readymade“ refers to an art-making approach pioneered by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp introduced this concept as a way to challenge traditional notions of art, originality, and the role of the artist.

A readymade artwork is created by taking ordinary, mass-produced objects and presenting them as works of art without significant alteration. The idea being that the artistic value of an object is not solely determined by the artist’s skill in craftsmanship or the uniqueness of the object. Instead, it emphasizes the intellectual and conceptual aspects of art.

In this instance, I’ve taken a mass-produced object ~ a stock photo ~ and paired it with a haiku where I provided only the idea, not the writing skill.

Stock photo + ChatGPT words = 21st-c. readymade.

Haiku generated by ChatGPT with the prompt “write a haiku about a dog contemplating a full moon.” Photo by Fabian Gieske and sourced from unsplash.com.