John Van Sloten
April 12, 2016
A "new" Rembrandt painting produced by a computer reminds us that God is the only one who truly creates.
This was a fascinating topic and your commentary was deeply thought provoking. It was one of the most satisfying articles I have read about our Creator God and the spirit of creation he has put in each of us as a reflection of Himself. This was an absolutely wonderful way to start my day as I ponder my own always flawed efforts which lead me back to a contemplation of a flawless originator of all Creation. Bravo!
At one level, it is of course true that when we create we discover. When scientists do research they tend to refer to it as “discovery” rather than “creation”. Even mathematicians, whose materials of study can be argued to be entirely in their own minds, will nevertheless always speak of discovery.
Even so, to suggest that discovery, or (worse) imitation, is all there is to creativity is an oversimplification. It oversimplifies to suggest that Rembrandt merely painted what was there. Rembrandt adjusted the light, positioned the subject with great care, decided how to frame the tableau before him, chose the medium, adjusted the colour palette, and presented the background, all for the purpose of presenting not just the visual image of the subject, but the person of the subject as he saw him/her.
There is something profound here that has to do with being created in the image of God, both in the seeing and in the being seen in this way. The artist does not merely represent photographically or mechanically, and certainly not passively; the portrait artist sees beyond what the visual image presents and intuits a possibility. In some sense, he sees as God sees. She participates in God’s seeing. Whatever it means to be made in the image of God, surely the ability to be creative in this way is part of it.
So where does that leave the Rembrandt produced by a computer and a 3D printer? Going by the image I have seen in the papers and online, the end-product looks remarkably like something Rembrandt might have painted. But then every painter develops a particular style, or several; and, evidently, an algorithm can identify aspects of that style well enough that it will fool at least a superficial viewer – enough to create good publicity for a bank. It is unquestionably a remarkable achievement. Interestingly, the reports on the project refer to both the 3D print and the algorithm as “creations”.
In Reply to Margaret Arballo (comment #28077)
Thanks Margaret. Reading about the Next Rembrandt Project last week, the deeper truths I wrote about seemed to jump off the page. Karl Barth once said, "Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible." To me, this story is a contemporary art/technology parable (authored by the Spirit of God).
In Reply to Leo Jonker (comment #28078)
Fascinating comment Leo. Thanks for posting. You sound like an artist. :)
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