Martin Zeilinger

The Politics of Visual Indeterminacy in Abstract AI Art

journal article
[posted: 30 May 2022]
>>tags: AI art, visual indeterminacy, abstraction, image recognition

My essay “The Politics of Visual Indeterminacy in Abstract AI Art” is part of a special issue of Leonardo co-edited by Natasha Lushetich and Iain Campbell (Dundee University). The essay will be available in Open Access format, and should come online soon.

Meanwhile, here is the abstract:

In Perception Engines and Synthetic Abstractions, two generative AI art projects begun in 2018, the artist Tom White experiments with AI-driven visual abstraction to explore the indeterminacy of perception, interpretation, and agency. White’s AI systems invoke an aesthetics of indeterminacy by producing images that human viewers are likely to interpret as abstract artworks. But importantly, the projects also confront human audiences with the realization that what is here deliberately rendered indeterminable for them remains near-perfectly legible for AI-powered image recognition systems. This differential in perceptual and interpretive agency points to an underlying politics of visual indeterminacy. As I argue, foregrounding the politics of visual indeterminacy increases critical awareness of how machine vision and image recognition – for example in automated online filtering systems – can reshape and diminish the horizon of what human audiences can or cannot see in an AI-driven digital cultural landscape.