Service of a Night of Contrasts: Art in 1905 vs AI in 2023

November 16th, 2023

Categories: Art, Museums, Technology

30 minutes well spent listening to the Met Museum virtual tour of the Fauvism show.

On a recent night I was watching the virtual premiere of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s tour of the exhibition “Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism.” At precisely the same time a friend attended a workshop about artificial intelligence—AI.

The years in question: 1905 and 2023.

I recommend that you spare 30 minutes to check out the museum tour conducted by Dita Amory, Robert Lehman Curator in Charge at the Met, and Ann Dumas, Consulting Curator of European Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. They tell us that in just over two months, in Collioure, a French fishing village, the artists “changed the course of French painting,” introducing modernism.

According to the notes accompanying the YouTube video, “With this new direction in painting, Matisse and Derain manipulated color in radical ways—nature took on hues responding to the artists’ sensations rather than reality. At the Salon d’Automne in 1905, when Matisse and Derain unveiled their controversial canvases, a prominent French journalist labeled them ‘les Fauves,’ or wild beasts.”

From the AI workshop, my friend shared an interesting AI-powered tool, Angry Email Translator, that will turn a nasty email into a polite, professional one. The workshop leader quoted Daniel Pink: “AI won’t replace humans. Humans using AI will replace humans not using AI.” His warning: “Be vigilant about the dangers” and advice: “Pay close attention and learn new skills.”

This morning, Dr. Arthur Caplan, Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU shared some examples on WOR 710 radio. Take a radiology scan. With AI, the scan can be compared to hundreds of others. The experience of the radiologist can’t be nearly as extensive in identifying something that looks dangerous versus no problem. In addition, Caplan said, AI never needs to go to sleep and never gets tired which can happen to someone staring at scans all day.

Astronomer Carl Sagan said in 1979: “We live in an extraordinary age.” We still do. Isn’t it remarkable that we are alive to have access to such diverse, fascinating information?

Fifth Avenue in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fall 2023

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6 Responses to “Service of a Night of Contrasts: Art in 1905 vs AI in 2023”

  1. Anonymous Said:

    Your comments about AI reminded of my recent chat with the doctor who has been analyzing my mammograms for the past 10 years. The practice now offers, for a slight extra charge, an AI scan in addition to that of the physician. She was a bit distracted by the new offering. Her rationale? “If AI finds something that I did not, am I really doing my job?”

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Anonymous,

    Reading your comment a few things shot through my mind.

    The first: Will we be like cars going through a carwash? We’ll walk through a gizmo like the ones at security checkpoints at museums, airports, government buildings and such, and be handed a receipt at the end with information about what’s wrong with our heads, necks, torso, etc.?

    Do radiologists, who spent $$$$ on their educations, go back to med school to take up another specialty?

    Last–and this is just me as I’m closely related to the ostrich–do I want to know?

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of information that surrounds us and that competes for our attention. It is amazing, but selecting what to concentrate on in addition to filtering out the endless assortment of unsolicited information and demands tends to make a slave of the computer.

  4. Deb Wright Said:

    Your post offers a great insight into AI. Many people have fears of the whole idea, and yes, there are scenarios from science fiction that can be true prophecies. But the examples from the ability to share the great artists to the radiologist’s ability to gather information are really good examples. Information overload? Sometimes! But there is so much that is astounding in this field.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    You make an excellent point. Between the cacophony of text alerts and pings alerting us to new emails, without restraint–especially if we have a deadline we’d prefer to ignore–we can too easily find hours gone with nothing done and productivity out the window.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    I sometimes wonder what my parents and ancestors would have to say about it all. I suspect my mother would be a fan of AI. She welcomed technology and the freedom it gave her. She was in chatrooms on her laptop starting in her late 80s. This was in the late 1990s. She ordered gifts online so as not to have to depend on others. If there were ways AI would have benefited her, she’d have figured out how to embrace the technology.

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