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Goodbye Horses

"Goodbye Horses" is a meditation on the challenges that AI art potentially imposes on the role of the artist in society. If machines do a better job at painting than a human artist, does it make the act of painting obsolete? I perceive creating art (and painting in particular) to be more than a mere profession; it’s a form of deeply human expression that taps into the spiritual part of our very being and I would argue there will always be a place and need for it. In the 1988 song "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus, we hear what appears to be a vague account of an argument with a disillusioned man who seems to think of life as being meaningless and futile ("All things pass into the night"). The song concludes with a reply from the narrator: "Goodbye horses, I'm flying over you." The horses are a nod to Hindu philosophy and represent the five senses with which we experience the materialistic qualities of the world, and flying over them is akin to aspiring to a more spiritual state of mind that goes beyond a purely rationalistic and finite world view. In a similar way it could be argued that the act of creating art is an aspiration towards something that is of more than just practical and monetary value and the "sum of its parts", but that it taps into the spiritual part of the human experience. In the various depictions of the late medieval allegorical "Danse Macabre" theme, various personifications of death are depicted in attire representative of their status and profession, a nod to the universality of death. In similar fashion, the jumping skeleton in "Goodbye Horses", which is carrying various artistic tools, is a representative of all artists. And, despite the gloomy outlook of his future, with his profession heavily challenged by rapid advancements of AI image creation, he doesn’t succumb to a purely rationalistic world view, where painting in light of AI advancements seems increasingly futile. Instead, he is facing the situation with optimism, by "flying over the horses".

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