We Asked ChatGPT About Art Theory. It Led Us Down a Rabbit Hole So Perplexing We Had to Ask Hal Foster for a Reality Check

Image by DALL-E.

Another title for this article could have been “The Case Against ‘The Case Against Art History.’”

Recently, the news has been awash with stories about the very weird, surreal, sometimes sinister things that A.I. text generators are squirting out. Even so, Microsoft’s Bing search engine is incorporating the most famous of these, ChatGPT, thereby advancing at lightning speed to make “A.I. assistants” the standard for how people find knowledge on the internet.

Is this the future? I don’t know! But here’s a little art-history experiment gone wrong that illustrates some of the pitfalls.

Last week, my colleague Naomi Rea chatted me, asking if I had ever heard of an essay called “The Case Against Art History” by the theorist Hal Foster, from the Summer 1992 issue of October.

I looked it up and could find no such article.

It turned out that Naomi had been using ChatGPT exactly as Microsoft intends it to be used: as a research aid. In this case, she had been investigating whether there was any good writing on the concept of “category collapse” as it applied to contemporary art.

Read the original article here…