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Digital Imagination, Fantasy, AI Art

The Original Article was published on 20 March 2021

The Original Article was published on 13 March 2021


In this reply to my reviewers, I touch upon Husserl’s notion of fantasy. Whereas Kant positions fantasy outside the scope of his own work, Husserl brings it back. The importance of this notion lies in freeing imagination from the tight link to images, as for Husserl imagination is an activity that functions as a “quasi perception.” Ihde and Stiegler enrich Husserl’s analysis of imagination with various aspects of technology: Ihde shows how changes in the technologies that mediate our imagination will necessarily change our imagination; Stiegler broadens Husserl’s analysis of retention. The two theories can be combined into a new understanding of subjectivity that is modeled as layers. Some layers can be performed by AI. The second part deals with the question of whether AI can be imaginative. Traditionally, imaginative creativity is associated with art. Bioart and AI art are brought as examples of a new definition of art, according to which art is the arrangement of materials in a way that produces a meaning. This definition does not refer specifically to creativity. In both forms of art, the biological/artificial and the human cooperate so that the former arranges the materials and the latter produces the meaning, albeit this division of labor is not clear-cut. The result is a co-shaping process. My conclusion is that algorithms can be considered creative by human standards, but this entails a new mode of imagination that is co-shaped and co-shared by humans and algorithms. The layer paradigm explains how such co-shaping works in practice.

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  2. E.g. "Pig Wings" by Catts, Zurr and Ben-Ary: (accessed 17 June 2020).

  3. (accessed 17 June 2020).

  4. For a discussion on the roles of the dataset and the algorithm see (Wellner and Rothman 2020).


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Correspondence to Galit Wellner.

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Wellner, G. Digital Imagination, Fantasy, AI Art. Found Sci 27, 1445–1451 (2022).

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