On free will and the nature of art

Description: Above you will see two videos of mine demonstrating the poems I wrote. Both tackle two different subjects; the first tackles the concept of free will (on the left), while the second one tackles the nature of art itself.

My first poem interpolates the word2vec vectors of two passages from Frank Herbert's Dune series, progressively turning the first passage into the second. The first passage is taken from Dune, and it talks about visions of the future that Paul Atriedes, the main character, sees. In it, he sees himself become emperor of the universe, commanding legions in a holy war against all who stand in his way. This frightens him, and he hopes to avoid this future at all costs. The second passage is an excerpt from Dune: Messiah, the sequel to Dune. In it, it describes the path that Paul took. As it turns out, he actually did become emperor of the universe, commanding his subjects into an intergalactic holy war which placed himself at the top.

My second poem is a stream of unconsciousness poem, based on the "i feel" example poem. The concept is very similar, although one interesting difference is that the poem questions its own artistic value by vacillating between praising itself and criticising itself, and often times not knowing what to make of itself.

Reflection: The first poem made me wonder, if we have access to knowledge of the future, are we still able to exercise free will or not? I've been consuming lots of media tackling this subject, including Dune and Attack on Titan (if that's a spoiler for you, thats on you the show has been around since 2013 breh). It's always a protagonist who is cursed with knowledge of the future (often times, something happens that the protagonists themselves don't want to happen, with the protagonist being the perpretrator.) It seems to me that as we have systems in our society that are driven by AI predictions, AI seems to shape our future, and as a result we lose our agency and free will to AI itself.

For the second poem, I intended to make this a very "meta" piece. The rise of the use of generative I models to create art has spurred much discussion of what constitutes real art. In fact, I've had these sorts of conversations with friends at CCRMA. Although my piece isn't a generative model in the same vein as those which have been trending, it still raises questions of what counts as art. Is my piece art? If it is, what makes it different from popular diffusion models? If not, why not?

poem-dune-interpolation.ck poem-is-this-art.ck

Acknowledgements: Shoutout to ChatGPT for answering my ChucK questions for tasks such as converting strings to integers. Moreover, shoutout to Ge for creating the "i feel" poem, since my second poem is based on it.