Redefining progress at the intersection of AI and artistic research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pragmatism, both as a philosophy and as a methodology, has strengthened a convergence of musical practice and research. This chapter proposes that this strengthening has exposed a gap between an idealised view of technology as an agent for progress and contemporary artistic reasons for using technology in creative processes. It argues that pragmatism has been helpful in moving discourse away from artefacts on the semiological neutral level (Nattiez 1990, 12) and toward experience: that is, toward the situations in which music is made and perceived (Small 1998). However, when the semiotics of technology are overlaid, it is argued that a distortion occurs that results in technology itself filling the gap that has been created at the neutral level. As a result, technical authority (the phrase that I use to describe how the platform now acts as an author) is clearly identifiable. Nattiez’s semiological tripartition is perhaps now a less relevant tool for decoding the impact of technology on creativity, because new structures (such as the platform economy—see Kenney and Zysman 2016, 65) connect perception with reception in ways that were not present in the twentieth century semiotics upon which the tripartition model is based. Indeed, the idea of “trace” (Nattiez 1990, 12) itself has dissolved today, rendering visible the systems, channels, and applications of technology within a space once claimed by the “musical work.” The chapter concludes by noting that, although a sense of dislocation has been created between technology and creativity in practice-based research, a convergence of technology and practice can be found within the domain of AI. However, I propose that experimental systems in concept and AI systems in practice both operate differently with regard to the role played by pragmatism. Further, I highlight the need for practice-based research (particularly in context, embodiment, and situation) as an essential component of technological development. And I argue that AI systems are not capable of assessing their pragmatic validity on their own.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperience Music Experiment
Subtitle of host publicationPragmatism and Artistic Research
EditorsWilliam Brooks
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherLeuven University Press
Number of pages17
EditionOrpheus Institute Series
ISBN (Print)9789462702790
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • AI
  • Artistic Research
  • Creativity

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