ARTCODE LETTER is a weekly snapshot of my creative process.

This includes artworks under development, reflections on the creative process and the creative discourse on interactive technology and AI that underpins my work.

It's the best way to keep in touch with what I'm doing.

See below for a sample

Recent editions

“Self portait in latent space (2784)” by Tim Murray-Browne. An AI-rendered abtract image with a face resembling Tim Murray-Browne emerging in the centre.

ChatGPT: My Conformist Double in the Neoliberal Hunger Games

Asking ChatGPT about yourself feels like the 2023 version of what Googling yourself was in 2003. Reading other people’s conversations with ChatGPT feels like hearing about their dreams. Beyond lovers and psychotherapists, it’s easy to overestimate how interesting others will find it. They, too, have dreams just as strange and vivid.

An out-of-focus photograph showing a snowy valley, taken by Tim Murray-Browne

Certifying Experience. Refusing Experience

Last weekend, we went hiking in the pretty forests of Mont-Tremblant. Sometimes you reach a designated viewpoint, with a guardrail so you can safely enjoy the view. To take a photo here makes me feel like a cog.

I think of Susan Sontag, writing in the 1970s and more relevant than ever:
“A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it—by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.”

I do it anyway though.

A photograph of a web of branches by Tim Murray-Browne.

Authored and Unauthored Content: A Newly Necessary Distinction

It seems likely the internet will soon be inundated with unauthored media. Those seeking influence will program systems to generate vast amounts of content as an instrument to sway debates and manufacture consensus. Unlike the state-run troll farms where real humans juggle hundreds of fake social media accounts, this AI content will be completely untethered from any human mind. I’m going to describe this type of media as unauthored. The person viewing it may well be the only human who ever does, though they may be unaware of this.

Imagine waking up to find a car parked on your lawn. Before AI, there’s was one explanation: somebody did this. It required human agency, therefore it is, on some level, an authored act. I can trace this state of affairs back to someone’s intentions. What does it mean? Why did they do this? Now imagine waking up to find a self-driving robo-taxi parked on your lawn. Did someone program it to park there? Or is this some kind of glitch? In other words, is this act authored or unauthored? With AI in the picture, the answer is no longer self-evident. I can use AI to author work with full presence and intention. I can also unwittingly set off a complex chain of events that leads to the exact same work.

Artwork by Tim Murray-Browne. It shows an AI rendered image revealing trees in a broader abstract swirl.

The difference of doing something weekly

Last month was an experiment with a short weekly newsletter. Here’s the result: I’m going to alternate between the weekly and monthly format.

My creative practice has a kind of tidal nature to it. Right now, there’s too much going on to pack into a monthly missive. Other periods, like summer and Christmas, tend to be more contemplative. I’m not interested in manifesting things to say when I have none, so during those periods I’ll shift to the monthly format.

I heard people like consistency, but I think predictability is enough. I’ll be clear when we switch into monthly mode. I’ll still do the occasional longer essay as some things need more space to articulate, but never more than once a month.

With that said, let me share how it’s been.

I’m a slow writer and the weekly letter takes a lot more time. Probably I’ll get faster with practice, but it’s about 6 hours each week, plus the technical faff of formatting, putting it on my website, and so on.

And yet, it’s been creatively invigorating and most definitely time well spent. The commitment is creatively generative. I have a tendency to hoard my ideas until they’re really ready. Too often, that readiness never arrives and they get left on a hard drive. There are things I’ve put out before that I regret, but they are massively outweighed by the work I didn’t share because I just wasn’t sure how I felt about it. When I return years later, I often find these some of the best.

Work-in-progress preview of SELF ABSORBED by Tim Murray-Browne. A woman stands in front of a large video wall striking a pose with her arms. On the video wall is a 3D render of a distorted male face.

A Coincidence of Wiggly Lines

"The work of art exists precisely to get beyond representation, to presence, even if that presence is itself composed of words, as it is in poetry. If this were not so, a lot of effort could have been spared, as it could all have been better stated in prose. The work of art does not hide, represent, or body forth something else, that must therefore be decoded: it is precisely what it is. And yet neither is it opaque, as though we were stopped at its frontiers. It is semi-transparent, translucent: we see it all right, and yet see through it to something beyond."
Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World