Fourth Musing: “Is Art In Jeopardy? A Commentary on AI Art”
The artistic community has a new vampire lurking in the shadows who is intent on draining the life blood from artists. Artists in all artforms – painters, graphic designers, songwriters and lyricists, photographers, writers, videographers, all have a fear of this creature named AI.
AI, or artificial intelligence, is making a serious inroad into many artistic endeavors through the use of artificial intelligence programs. Books and poetry are being created without the soul of a human, JZ has had a ‘sampling’ done of his style, voice, and words by an AI program, without JZ even being contacted for input by another human musician. And the art world is being affected by programs such as DALL E 2 that is gaining recognition in the AI community for creating works of art simply by texting a command.
AI is a totally different animal than digital art or digital painting, as the person using the digital software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel, or Rebelle has to employ a level of artistic skill and technique to understand how to use the vast array of possibilities inherent in the software package. Already many graphic artists who were trained in creating graphic designs through their own skill as artists have either had to accept the change-up to digital software or make the decision to move into a different art medium.
Pictured above are a few examples of digital painting from artist Sten that are available through The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing.
Artists who are beginning to use digital software often times work on digital software to come up with an idea which may be different than their usual hand created style. They often add to the digital rendering by re-creating it on canvas or paper and adding in even more of their own personality to it, using the digital rendering as a rough sketch for an original art piece. In the case of digital art, the creator can work in free hand using various tools available in the software program and adding color as desired, which means the digital artist still has a ‘hand in it.’ Another example of this can be a clothing designer who creates something on their iPad by drawing it and refining the drawing before committing it to cloth.
AI simply needs a person to log into the AI program and type in text, such as, “Mona Lisa done in the style of Warhol using only red, green and orange coloring.” And, voila! In a matter of seconds the generated piece of ‘art’ is on the computer screen and ready for printing. Sounds interesting, maybe even fun, and if the purpose is to while away an afternoon creating crazy computer images then possibly there is no harm done. Or is there? Should it be for sale in galleries, even if there is a disclaimer that says “AI created”? Is it serious art if it cannot be created without the aid of a computer and software? Is it serious art if there is never an original because everything was generated and printed from a computer and they are simply all copies? Is it serious art if no human ever laid a brush, pen, pallet knife, hand or stylus to it?
Let us muse on this at a thoughtful level and explore why this new craze of AI art is detrimental to the artistic community. AI art is created by powerful programs which learn algorithms that grow exponentially as more commands are given and the databases mine deeper for information. AI generators are trained on the art that has already been made by humans and is available online through various websites. This sampling of art does not compensate the artists who have created the original pieces. Replicating an artist’s style through computer generated algorithms and databases is basically using the artist’s style without needing to compensate them, taking into consideration how long it took for that artist to work in that particular style, or even obeying any copyrights that may be in existence. The art hits a gallery and the creator sells it as art with only an idea, a few minutes of time, and no creative energy spent in the process, nor time learning and growing the skill of the creative process.
This story may or may not be true, but even if it isn’t an accurate moment in Picasso’s life it certainly gets the point across: Pablo Picasso is sitting in a park sketching. A woman approaches and excitedly asks if he would sketch her, He agrees and creates an abstract likeness. She is very excited and wants it for her own. He tells her the cost is 5,000 francs. She retorts quite angrily, “Why so expensive – it only took you a minute to sketch!” He replies, “No madame, it took me a lifetime.”
I am hoping that after this musing into AI art when the question is asked, “Is art in peril?”, the answer will be a resounding, “NO!”. And it will be ‘No” because the art buying public will not invest in it. As a soulful, human society art that is created over time with the input of passionate artists who reach deep into their souls to create visions for us to enjoy will remain a necessity to our existence.
This conversation must not end here. Next time you visit The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing, take time to connect with the art, exploring what emotions and thoughts come to mind for you. Engage in conversation with the amazing and talented staff, let them know what art means to you as a creative and soulful individual. Speak with artists who mine deep into their personal psyche to create works that will have meaning for years and years to come. Hopefully you will walk away with the idea that AI is something different than art – perhaps it is a flash in the pan – perhaps it is a feeble attempt to overtake the field or art. But you can make the difference by saying, “No!”