There is a group of computer scientists who claim to have written a program that understands art as well as most critics. This program correctly correlated and organized 34 different painters by styles. While examining the artists, this program utilized over a 1000 paintings that computers used as evidence to categorize these artists (http://phys.org/news/2012-09-humans-art.html.)
Color me not impressed. Or wait my sensors are not at maximum appreciation capacity? The problem I have with articles like this is that these are non-aesthetically trained people trying to make aesthetic assessments. The real reason I am not impressed is that I teach video game design in the afternoon to my students. All the coding software would have to do is categorize pre- programmed variables and sort through the distinctions in the images. Then it would simply tally up a score and place the artists in the appropiate categories. Recognizing styles can be tricky because of how people think, but this is more a memorization issue. Styles are grouped and indentified because the artists chose to be identified with those styles in the first place. I am not impressed.
The real problem with articles and research like this is the trivialization of design thinking and aesthetics. If you asked a computer to build a challenger that would go to outer space based upon existing imagery…you could very likely get an image like the one above. Why, because computers do not think. They are information retention tools. What is offensive is that designers are thinkers, and while it may not seem a big deal on the surface this is kind of though processes that devalue what we do on a larger scale.
Look at Dan Brown’s mistakes in the Da Vinci’s Code. He is a fun writer, and his novel makes for an action packed read. However, his art criticism accuracy left alot to be desired. The reason being is that he lacks judgment in aesthetics.
The point is designers should not be testing pharmaceutical products on amebeas and scientists should not be building Paul Rand bots. I would pay to see a giant Milton Glazer robot fight King Kong any day. I imagine the movie tag line being,” I love NY.” The script writes itself, but I digress. Scientists are free to explore what they like, but respect the discipline. Designers should explore science too, but respect the discipline. Most importantly designers need to defend their discipline. Scientists defend theirs.