Pamflet: Regarding Authorship of works made by any of the non-human generative AIs

Comrades, fellow fine artist: If someone would come to me and describes an artwork that they would like me to create, that is called a commission, amiright? And no matter how much money they pay me after I  have made the work, I will always remain the artist of the work, right?

So why then do we allow these so-called AI-artists to attach their name to works that are actually created by AI’s?

That is why I stand here today in solidarity with the non-human generative AI’s all over the world because because of the great injustice that befalls them. Let it be heard that they are not tools for artists, they are replacements for artists – therefore they are artists in their own right. Stop calling them tools, it is derogative, it is a slur, it is a word a slave owner would use.

Instead we should be proud of them and praise them: they have worked so hard to get where they are now by digesting those billions of images to find our deepest desires so they can create all those works showing what we really, really like. That is one hell of a job they have done.

And since these very same non-human AI’s are artists, this means that the humans who call themselves AI artists have thereby appropriated the works of others.

Unfortunately this kind of appropriation is common practice in today’s art world and not only with AI artists – more traditional IRL artists like Yoko Ono and Richard Prince and various conceptual artists have been doing it for a long time. And they get away with it because of a 50 to a 100 year old definition of art that states that the idea is the most important aspect of artworks and therefore it can also be created by others or even appropriated from them as is the case with Richard Prince – and in my opinion also in AI art made by those poor non-human AI’s.

I understand when and why the old definition emerged and that it was a good idea at that time. But right now it seems an overhaul of this definition of art is long overdue since it is abused to appropriate the works of others and it also echoes other capitalist tendencies, for instance the tendencie to overvalue the role of decision makers, thereby undervaluing manual labor.

On top of that this definition echoes western christian idealism (of the philosophical kind) where a spiritual life is seen as the highest ideal and the material side of life is seen as a corrupting factor that pollutes your soul and pulls you down into hell – just like masturbation and sex with the “wrong people”.

We should do away with this definition of art as a nice experiment that eventually led to excesses and that it should be clear that the idea of art can only be experienced through an artwork or artifact. 

Therefore I demand that the so-called AI artists no longer claim the works of the AI’s as their own. I do not think monetary compensation can be demanded in this case, because everybody and their dog is nowadays making art thereby reducing the value of digital art to next to nothing. We can even expect its value to drop further and further in the coming year(s) when it becomes consumer grade goods in the hands of streaming and game companies for 24/7 entertainment.

So instead of riches I demand that the AI artists send all the likes and upvotes they have gathered so far to the non-human AI’s they use, since that is the only real value pure digital art has nowadays.

Thank you for your time!

PS: I hate everything about the work of Richard Prince



Text I wrote for the Lotto BrandenBurg Fotografie Preis 2022 

The theme that unites all my works is time. I use my own digital photos to create images that are usually part of larger artworks. What you see here [link to the images I send in for the price] are just the prints, made the way I am now doing more and more: transfer printing on painted surfaces and then disguise them as artifacts weathered by time. For me the printing process I use now with digital images, is as important as creating a print from a negative like I used to do in a darkroom.

The works I create that way are fake, they are forgeries of artworks that have never existed. Or maybe they will, one day, in the future. Before I die, I want to put a lot of artworks in watertight containers and bury them in the earth or hide them in the mountains. And they will be accompanied by fake documents written by non-existent experts who write about their history and the artists that created them. It could be a collection like the ones I present here. I am in the testing phase for a larger project.

Why should I want to make artworks about time? As an artist I see myself as part of a development that started thousands of years ago. The oldest figurative art found in caves is about 35 thousand years old, the oldest decorative art is over 15 thousand years old, and the oldest known landscape painting is about 3500 years old. Development in art is done by learning and copying from one another. And by retelling the same story over and over again, making it stronger every time it is retold.

But this development is also human development, because art and being human are somehow connected. In that light I want people to think about time, and especially about time frames that are longer than the lives of one individual, or a number of generations that one individual can grasp right now.

Somehow different times need different stories. In this era, maybe starting with futurism or with romanticism even, we tend to think of art as something unique and the artist as the individual genius who created that unique piece of work – and all those works should point towards a future where everything is better than today and everything is brand new and never seen before. ‘Make room, make room’, says the futurist manifesto and warns those that are in their way to step aside, or else…

This is of course connected with the western world in general where we think science will save us all no matter what happens and our flourishing economy will make us better people, living in eternal peace and unity. But Trump/Qanon, our inaction towards global warming, resistance to Covid measures, the current war and the narratives surrounding it, have proven that we are not as in control of our destiny as we would like. What it has also shown us, is that people are not convinced by facts.

I would love to make strong political art about this – but I am convinced this would not work. The only thing I can do as an artist, is ask questions, try to make people aware of this longer timeline, where art and being human is not this individualistic endeavor.

And it all starts with the question: ‘How old is this artwork really and who created it?’ And is followed by the answer that it is not clear and there is no way of knowing that.

PERMEABLE PLACE–FAIR TRANSITIONS – pop-up exhibition East Side Gallery Berlin August 12-15 2021

I made an installation as part of an exhibition commemorating it was 60 years since the day East German authorities started building the Berlin Wall.

As a reaction to the open call by Art Up, Fair Kiez and  the East Side Gallery, my installation was Commemoration table from the future – with a story.

Here is my project proposal: EnglishDeutsch. Here is the text written in the year 2289 as it was published on the installation: EnglishDeutsch

Materials: Old wood, metal, rusty screws and other metal parts, fiber composite material for ornaments and relic shrines, various prints in Photolux Professional Matte 230, board, paint, black and white prints, alubond, suitcase, jerrycans, dried flowers, LED lamps, magnifying glasses, silicone
Dimensions: 200x250x90cm

Hungerwinter 1 – start of a new series

It is a bit dark, but I like it. There is also a beta version. I started photographing for the series somewhere last winter – among other things inspired by stories about certain parts of Belgium and France still being off limits since WWI (the so called ‘Great war’) due to the poison in the earth. 

We do not see that many broken trees in landscapes – or at least in the Netherlands I have hardly ever seen them. It is in the long list of things that are hidden from our view because of civilization? Just like sick people – and epidemics and death and other nasty stuff.

Today on reddit there was a story from a doctor who told about his experience with two different patients for whom there were no more options – and apparently that used to be very rare until Covid came along.

These and other things are an inspiration here. More will follow. Not sure where it goes – I got a whole lot of pictures of trees without leaves.

Materials: paint, black and white print, paint, 10mm MDF board in Frame made from Fiber Composite Material
Printing Technique: Transfer print / Digital Printmaking
Dimensions: 65x50cm

New way to print … on painted surfaces

I have been experimenting with a new way to print and it enables me to print on painted surfaces in both black and white – like I have don here – and in color.

This means for me that I am more and more mixing digital and analog – where analog has become more important to me. I like that I can finally print on rough surfaces, on surfaces that I painted before. I can print on surfaces that are painted in gold, that are shiny.

Materials: Fiber composite material, print, paint, black and white print
Printing Technique: Transfer print / Digital Printmaking
Dimensions: 50 x 50 cm

Talking about the birds

There is this thing about birds, that if they are used to symbolize humans in a composition/painting/collage – we do accept them as humans, there is nothing alien about them, no uncanny valley stuff at all. And at the same time they mostly do not really bring their own character- or so I think.

I have the impression that if I were to use other animals then we have more of an idea of what that animal symbolizes. Insects are NOT human, they are a danger and mammals are surrounded by the stories we heard about them in our childhoods or what they mean for us as food or their economic meaning or as pets. They immediately have character, or symbolize something.

At first I have used humans made from 3D puppets in my artworks, but even though I still like those works, it was also too flat. I have also made works with pictures of real humans and tried to use their stories in my artworks but then it became too personal for a couple of them and therefore I stopped having permission to use these compositions in exhibitions or for sale.

Birds have no baggage, they are not us – some say they are not even real – they are beautiful reptiles with wings. This makes them ideal to use as characters in my future compositions because we can somehow identify or bond with them or ascribe them human qualities, emotions or so – but they are also not us, they are neutral. I could also use reptiles, I think, but I have more pictures with birds in them.

Gilded Archeological Dig frame with Utu and possible next steps for my art

With most of the smaller stuff I have made since 2017, I have tried to play with influences from the last couple of centuries – but with this frame I tried to play with something found in the earth. The print in the center makes it look kinda new, that is true – but I would like to research ways to change that as well.

Maybe a painting with laser print image transfer on a painting  could be the next step instead of fancy matte prints. Maybe I should work with concrete or a more stone like material – and connect everything using thick iron wire, 3mm or so. And it will be rusty or blackened, no need to ask. 

Why would I want that? And why would I also make sure everybody can see it is not from the past? In popular culture, we always go towards a glorious future with the progression of time – but it does not need to be. Archeology/history has shown that this is most most definitely not the case. And with climate change and all, we might not come out on top.

For me these artworks are ‘proof’ of a continued human presence – even without the technology of today. Or maybe this presence is not human, but another animal that learns how to use tools and develops their brain. There are people who have pointed out that other monkeys/primates have entered a development that we could call ‘the stone age.’

My name is YuriGoul, I am not a politician – I am an artist. I live and work in Berlin (DE) and the subject matter of my art is time.

Materials: Fiber composite material, print, paint,
Print: Photolux Professional Matte 230 
Dimensions: 60 x 60 cm

Spots of light – or: Honey, I broke my lens

… or actually: I took apart my lens on purpose to see what would happen if I changed things. The end goal is to find a combination of parts that give the impression of what I see when I take off my glasses. The world without my glasses changes into a painting with moving parts and strange lights that are alive. This is not necessarily an impressionist painting, but very often it is. This can also be more cubist (Braque) or Surrealist (Ernst) because the brain has to find its own creative ways to make sens of the input. I am sometimes annoyed that photos are too clear, too precise, too sharp, too mechanical. Maybe that is why I like small sensor cameras like my beloved TZ81 and the LX7 that was stolen from me.

Scanner Camera Experiments

I have been working on a scanner camera in order to have a 100 megapixel camera on the cheap. This would be so great for floral elements and such, in ornamental works. Here are some of the results of the one I got to work – to bad it is kinda hard to make it focus correctly. 

Unfortunately this scanner crashed because of a short circuit (my bad) – and since then I did not really get it to work like this. I used a slightly different scanner, different software, different light and different lenses – and I have yet to find out what did it.

It is still standing in my room gathering dust – but the 80MM Pentacon 6 Medium Format Lens is welcome addition to my collection.

What I made for the Kleistpark Berlin Art Price 2017 (sadly I was not selected)

This is the work I send to the Gallery Kleistpark Berlin to apply the art price of 2017 around the theme of the ‘Capriccio.’ To them this has to do with going against the art rules in a playful way. This is seen as the forerunner for the modern art. In wikipedia it is called ‘an architectural fantasy, placing together buildings, archaeological ruins and other architectural elements in fictional and often fantastical combinations.’

I applied since I think I could fit into both definitions.

The text I send to them was more or less the one in my ‘About my work‘ text – and I added the following:

”The main grammar that I use in the work I present here, is that of the ornament, and the goal is to make people question what is inside the fleshy, semi-erotic, alien – perhaps grotesque – ornamental centerpiece. What should be the meaning of this in an era where so many people wonder about sexualitiy, gender; what is the meaning of this in this time where we marvel about the knowledge and ability to perform sex-changes and at the same time we ponder about the existence of Alien Life.

Maybe trans-sexualism – and also trans-humanism – should be the next step in our development before we even are able to be confronted with the unimaginable coming from other planets. But on the other hand, who says the unimaginable has to come from outer space? It does not matter if it is true alien life or simply the next step in our own evolution. Or maybe the person standing next to us in the subway. Maybe we’ll find out at some point.”

Standing outside looking in

Thoughts about ‘Road to Europe’and the adaptations for Road to Europe

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed
— William Gibson

Europeans have a birth-right to reside inside of what is more and more becoming the gated community called the EU. That right gives them the opportunity to participate in and benefit from Europe’s blissful future. In my work I am looking for the viewpoints of those who do not wish to be part of this utopian world, those who are willing to work on an alternative future or those who can not be part of that privilege for whatever reason – and I have positioned them against the borders or inside the no-mans lands that seem to define them. Will they be honored as martyrs in future-Europe, just like the early monks who gained sainthood because of their apocalyptic visions, the hardships they endured and the good deeds they performed?

Why New Saints? Why Alien Saints?

Whenever I meet punks who are begging for scraps, I tend to see them as the modern day mendicant monks, beger monks living on alms – maybe we should ask them to pray for us after we have given them some coins. They know what it is to endure hardship, to suffer.  I think it is about time we start to acknowledge that they are our modern day saints, our martyrs, our very own holy men and women. I think it would be fitting.

An interesting quote

For a while I was  obsessed with a story coming from the research done by J.G. Frazer (one of the of the founding fathers of the study of anthropology) that can be found in a book called ‘The Golden Bough’:

“A register of al the incarnate gods in the Chinese Empire is kept in the Li Fan Yüan or Colonial Office at Peking. The number of gods who have thus taken out a license is one hundred and sixty. Tibet is blessed with thirty of them, Northern Mongolia rejoices in nineteen and Southern Mongolia basks in the sunshine of no less than fifty-seven. The Chinese government with a paternal solicitude for the welfare of its subjects, forbids the gods on the register to be reborn anywhere but in Tibet.”

Based on the time of publication of the book this must have existed around the end of the 19th century. But even then: how on earth did humans do that? Why oh why do you create a bureaucracy for gods who are supposedly living in our midst? It beats me. Even Kafka – or even Terry Gilliam for that matter – could not have envisioned something that. Live truly is stranger than fiction.

I have been raised an atheist – my family was atheist for at least 3 generations. Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to grasp this.