Artists (and observers of art) get rewarded for making (and observing) novel patterns:
data that is neither arbitrary (like incompressible random white noise) nor regular in an
already known way, but regular in way that is new with respect to the observer's current knowledge,
yet learnable (that is, after learning fewer bits are needed to encode the data).
The formal theory of creativity by
J. Schmidhuber (1990-2010) formalizes this
in a mathematically rigorous way. The theory
can be used to build artificial artists and scientists -
see numerous papers on this since 1990.
While the theory explains essential aspects of the desire
to create or observe all
kinds of art,
(Schmidhuber, Leonardo 1997) applies and
illustrates it in a particularly clear way.
Many observers report they derive pleasure from
discovering simple but novel patterns while actively
scanning the self-similar Femme Fractale
above. The observer's learning process causes a reduction of the subjective compressibility of the data, yielding a temporarily high derivative of subjective beauty:
a temporarily steep learning curve. The corresponding intrinsic reward motivates
him to keep looking at the image for a while. Similarly, the computer-aided
got reward for discovering a satisfactory way of using fractal circles to create this low-complexity artwork, although it took him a long time and thousands of frustrating trials. Here is the explanation of the artwork's low algorithmic complexity: The frame is a circle; its leftmost point is the center of another circle of the same size. Wherever two circles of equal size touch or intersect are centers of two more circles with equal and half size, respectively. Each line of the drawing is a segment of some circle, its endpoints are where circles touch or intersect. There are few big circles and many small ones. This can be used to encode the image very efficiently through a very short program. That is,
the Femme Fractale above has very low algorithmic information or Kolmogorov complexity. (This low-resolution image is derived from the original wall-sized drawing. The expression "Femme Fractale" was coined in 1997: J. Schmidhuber. Femmes Fractales. Report IDSIA-99-97, IDSIA, Switzerland, 1997.)
See also: neural computer vision.
The artwork above first appeared on TV in Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman on the Science Channel. Full video also at youtube - check 31:20 ff and 2:30 ff (oops, blocked for copyright issues after 100k views)