Marius is into coding “generative art.” Generative art is particularly “eruptive,” in the New Aesthetic eruptive sense. It looks “eruptive” because, although it isn’t new, the world has never yet come to terms with art generated by algorithms. We lack a sensibility that is cozy and urbane about that. So we have pretend that it’s amazingly new, all the time.
This response is pig-headed of us. Generative art has many analog precursors, as Marius himself has pointed out, in illuminating detail, on several occasions. Generative software code is code, and a printout sheet of it looks pretty intimidating to the non-coder. But it really is art code. It is not hidden from view by patents, trade secrets and commercial manufacturers. By the standards of New Media art, it’s compact, purpose-built, open to inspection, and, with sufficient investment of effort, comprehensible.
About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.
“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”
The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.
On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”