© Midjourney / Vermeer
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One of the Netherlands’ greatest art treasures is on loan. The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, is temporarily residing not at the Mauritshuis but at the Rijksmuseum because of the largest Vermeer exhibition ever. The Mauritshuis came up with a solid solution for the resulting empty spot on the wall. Under the title ‘My Girl with a Pearl‘, anyone could submit their own interpretation of Vermeer’s famous work. Five ‘masterpieces’ were chosen to adorn the wall of the Mauritshuis. One caused a riot: ‘A Girl with Glowing Earrings‘, a bit of Julian van Dieken, and a bit of artificial intelligence.

About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Derek Jan Fikkers, Eugène Franken, JP Kroeger, Katleen Gabriels, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer, and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, all work in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. Here are all the previous installments.

Thumbs up?

Suddenly everyone had to like this girl without a pearl but with lights. Is this kind of AI art ethical or unethical? Does this computer-generated work belong in a museum or not? We all displayed typical social media behavior again: do we give a thumbs up or not? We increasingly do that with art; we form an opinion. Whether it’s a painting or a cabaret show, we do the thumbs up if we think the work is okay and the thumbs down if we don’t think the work is okay.

Museums are not about activating the like button. They are not about fitting in and proclaiming an opinion. Museums serve to help you gain a different perspective. Art teaches you to perceive differently. Art puts you on a different track. Art confuses or enchants. Art raises questions. Art makes something happen to you. Art shows you a new horizon.

Art puts you on a different track. Art confuses or enchants. Art raises questions. Art makes something happen to you. Art shows you a new horizon.

Eveline van Zeeland

Time for a different perspective

With the world subject to many challenges for which solutions must be designed, art is more important than ever. People need to eat and drink to have enough energy and enjoy art to change their perspective sufficiently. Through art, you learn to look at an issue differently and develop different ideas to design a solution. 

With innovations, people think that good ideas fall out of the sky; that you don’t have to do anything for them. People think that having creative ideas is a magical talent. Nothing could be further from the truth. To trigger good ideas, you have to work hard. You have to make sure that you are constantly inspired. Where better to do that than in a museum? In a museum, your train of thought is vigorously rooted loose and re-fertilized, and re-sprayed. It allows your creative brain to make different connections than before and thus to allow creative ideas to emerge. Art is not a luxury but a much-needed ingredient for an innovative cocktail. Art should not be liked or canceled, art should be embraced with all your innovative disposition.