I want to preface what I’m about to say by stating that I think this is a very exciting time for technology in the era of human beings. Tesla, VR and 3d printing are all available to us and may very well change the way we live. In theory all these things can create an environment that betters humanity as a whole.
That been said, let’s take a second to think about this Rembrandtstein. I could go over the many things that I think make the New Rembrandt absolutely soul-less, because as a painter I think I, like many other painters, can formally spot why I think this zombie of a painting is just an empty shell of an image. But even giving technology the benefit of the doubt and admitting that this is quite an accomplishment, we are left with a pretty regular painting. Not a great portrait. Not even by a mile.
But in all honesty, the point here is not to think if this 3d printed painting could fool people into believing the image was a real Rembrandt or not. What seriously rubs me in a very eerie manner, is how they made the painting. Never mind that even with this technology it would be close to impossible to do a Caravaggio (or any other Baroque painter) multi-figure composition and it is easy to understand why Rembrandt’s portraits suited the experiment so well. The data that was collected and aided the creation of the algorithms that supposedly configure a Rembrandt portrait (an early portrait if we want to be picky) is akin to Google collecting your browsing history and knowing what porn you consume, or amazon suggesting new things for you to buy based on your past purchases.
This idea we have nowadays that human beings can be solely understood and defined by data collection, a bunch of ones and zeroes, is ridiculous. I’d like to believe that I like good music, but for some unbeknownst reason sometimes, I listen to Britney Spears and I think it’s pretty good. And I may, for some weird ass reason, after using an umbrella for 49 rainy days, prefer to walk in the rain and get drenched. I’ve smiled and been a pretty cool guy for most of a month and suddenly one day wanted to punch someone in the throat because they said “good morning”. I’ve eaten pizza one day and thought the world was better because of it, and I’ve eaten pizza on another day and have thought it is one of the reasons the world is shit.
Now you could argue that my data may be collected and figure out the percentage of the time I’m likely to do something irrational. But data will never understand why I do stupid stuff. The variables and the context for making personal decisions is so specific, so particular and so reliant on our past experiences, our present believes and our ever changing future plans, that it makes it impossible for data to understand how to be exceptionally human. Because that’s what Rembrandt was, exceptional.
So to the people behind science and technology, kudos for your accomplishment. But if you’re trying to understand Art in the most rudimentary of ways by measuring distances and heights, and think that the artist behind it all is dispensable, then fuck off. You’re geniuses, but you’re also absolutely fucking clueless. Art is emotional, irrational, imperfect and capricious. Make an algorithm for that why won't you.