Great stuff. On the meanings of “art”, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries I find it’s often much more like the modern word “artifice” - so something that can apply to anything manmade (vs Nature, being God-made). Hence the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, founded in 1754, certainly thought of arts as encompassing anything other than what the Royal Society studied (the RS having originally encompassed arts too, but which quickly found there was plenty of nature to be getting on with discovering!)

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Great article. Disagree about the role of the camera obscura, though - medieval artists don't seem to have had the option of going for realism, because none of them did so. The sudden jump from medieval art to the crisp photorealism of Van Eyck is suspicious, to say the least. Objects and faces go from stylised representations to crystal clarity. There's no in between.

Though there is a role for cutting edge chemistry as well as cutting edge optics. In fact, Van Eyck is so extraordinary that it would be strange if his work wasn't the result of bringing together breakthroughs in a number of different areas. And as I think Tyler Cowen has said (though I can't remember who he's quoting) for hundreds of years it was vital for artists to be at the forefront of chemistry - if you weren't, it could cost you your career.

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Well, of course, one big EM pulse from a solar storm and all of our digital art is gonna be corrupted to the point where future (art) historians will probably consider this era a dark ages.

"What was art and music like in the early 21st century? Nobody knows! We think possibly they didn't have any interest in it as no examples remain, we have only examples of machinery designed for war or resource extraction..."

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What an eye-opening article! It's fascinating how art and technology have this dynamic, almost symbiotic relationship. The way the article connects the dots between artistic pursuits and technological innovations, from the Renaissance period to the current era of AI, truly underscores the profound influence artists have had on shaping technological advancements.

It's incredible to think that something as innovative as Nvidia's GPUs, crucial for today's AI developments like ChatGPT, stemmed from an artistic demand for better graphics chips in the gaming industry. The historical journey, from the adaptation of optical aids by Renaissance artists to the experiments with light-sensitive materials by the Lunar Society, demonstrates a consistent pattern of artists pioneering technological progress.

The connections drawn here, especially regarding how Wright's artistic exploration of artificial light mirrored the experiments in chemistry by the Lunar Society, showcase a compelling interplay between creativity and scientific advancement. Moreover, the parallels between past artistic innovations and the emergence of new technologies, like AI-generated art reminiscent of earlier artistic styles, hint at how art might prefigure technological trends.

This article beautifully highlights the reciprocity between art and technology, revealing that rather than one merely influencing the other, they engage in a continual, intricate dance of inspiration and evolution. Kudos to the author for weaving together such an engaging narrative that uncovers these hidden connections. Thanks for shedding light on this captivating relationship between art and technology!

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As someone working in the space, thanks for sharing the thoughts. Great article.

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