Art Quilt: Count Zero Point One

 I'm still catching up. Here is an art quilt I finished in June to enter into a themed show called, "Stitchpunk." It took months before I could even find a way in to this theme, which seemed to be all surface and no substance. "Reimagine a world," began the call for entries, listing "cyberpunk, steampunk, diesel punk, bio punk, atop punk, clockpunk, nanopunk and more!"

But then, the Eye of Sauron focused its beam on Artificial Intelligence, and it continues to remain in the news. A friend started playing with ChatGPT, and I ended up remembering that William Gibson had written about art in boxes in the style of Joseph Cornell. My friend asked ChatGPT about other artists who made work in the style of Joseph Cornell and discovered Hannelore Baron, an artist neither of us had heard of before. When asked for a list of artworks like Joseph Cornell in fiction, ChatGPT did not immediately list William Gibson's book. It apologized as if it "forgot" and then, perhaps "learned" it. Other programs create artworks from prompts.

I knew, then, what my art quilt would be about. This was my statement as I entered the quilt:

Computers have been generating art since 1986, if you believe in William Gibson’s cyberpunk world created in his book, Count Zero [Amazon link]. Do science fiction writers know in advance? Or are scientists inspired by the imagination of writers and artists? In the book, a machine with many tools for arms creates Joseph Cornell-style boxes by grabbing objects floating in space and assembling them into artworks. Just as technology today shows us how human prompts to an AI machine can suggest a seemingly new work, I’ve used some of the objects Gibson describes as my own prompt to create this art quilt. The question with which we struggle, now and into the future, continues: Who is the real artist?

Count Zero Point One
36.5”w x 45.25”h
Painted and stenciled cotton; hand-dyed velvet; faux leather; lace; vintage glove; metallic fabric paint, acrylic ink; hand quilted with cotton thread; hand-embroidered with metallic thread

Objects mentioned in Count Zero by William Gibson (pp.14-15; 214; 224;234):
slender fluted bone from wing of a large bird
3 circuit boards with maze of gold
smooth white sphere of baked clay
age-blackened fragment of lace
finger-length segment of human wrist bone with shaft of "Braun biomonitor"
ornate silver spoon sawn precisely in half from end to end
a yellowing kid glove
faceted crystal stopper from some vial of vanished perfume
armless doll with face of French porcelain
fat, gold-fitted fountain pen
rectangular segment of perf board
crumpled red and green snake of a silk cravat
arrangement of brown old maps
tarnished mirror
sections of leather jacket
7 numbered tabs of "holofiche"
crumpled wrapper of Gauloise
black-striped gray matchbook