AI and art.
Are you ready? Technology advances are about to hurl us into such a breathtakingly rapid and changeable world that we won’t know what hit us. “Artificial Intelligence” is rearing it’s inevitable head – just now emerging on the scene in both subtle and bold modes. AI promises to change all aspects of life and the visual arts will be no exception.
AI imagery applications are so sophisticated, they are already creating stunning visuals. So called “Deep Fake” images and videos have emerged and proving so realistic a casual observer can’t tell the difference. AI promises to transform the music and movie industries and possibly render movie and rock stars into the dust bin of history.
AI applications are also being used to create complex and beautiful images that are also difficult to discern from artist created images. Attached image created by AI used by Jason Allen, “Theatre D’opera Spatial” won first place in an art competition at the Colorado State Fair (Source; wgit.org). It appears this AI generated image was entered into the “Digital Art” category without any disclosure it was created with AI. Needless to say this prompted immediate protests from competing artists who created their digital art completely on their own. Mr. Allen states he feels he did nothing wrong. (you can find more detailed info about this with a quick search).
This leaves open the possibility AI generated images are being used as proxies for original artist created compositions. For example, a painter or sculptor can have AI create an image then copy it in their media. Is that an original? I would say it is not and any such artwork should be disclosed as “copied from AI” or “after AI” upon signing. Much as an artist would disclose a copy they made of an already existing artwork (such as an old master copy).
It seems the art world is well aware of AI and how it is shaking things up. Some believe AI is just another step in the journey and is a valid tool artists can use to create art – similar to using photography, or photoshop. Others believe it should be disclosed that an artist used AI to generate an image.
A recent 2023 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, explores this topic through AI generated images used by Refik Anadol. Simply search this name to get some images and more information.
Will AI exceed human imagination for creating beautiful, or interesting images? I believe it will “rival” human imagination in terms of image quality as it relates to beauty and interest – and exceed what humans are capable of in terms of output. The speed at which AI works far exceeds anything we can do individually. Therefore expect lots and lots of AI images (and videos) going forward. They will become pervasive in all media – and expect to start seeing them in art festivals, some galleries, and exhibits. And we will have to be skeptical of what we see in our news and social feeds – knowing full well anything can be faked.
However, in terms of oil painting there is an aesthetic brought forth by attributes such as paint texture, brushstrokes, and other aspects of authentic application of paint on a support (canvas, panel, etc) by a human. For example, many Rembrandt paintings (and other artists) are full of paint texture and visible brushstrokes that lend to the visual effects and aesthetics of his works. Rembrandt and others exploit the paint quality and texture to advance their vision for the piece. Can AI do that? I believe AI can create images that look like a Rembrandt on a computer monitor, but is there a machine to “paint” them in such a way that variety of paint texture, brushstrokes, etc are all visible? AI can easily show this on a monitor, but to translate onto an actual canvas or panel is not possible at this time according to research made as of this writing. There are “oil painting machines” out there, however they are more like a printer and not capable of creating the infinite variety of interacting types of strokes afforded by different brush materials and sizes, painting knife sizes and styles, finger or rag wipes, oil and medium types and use, paint mixtures, etc… At least these machines are not capable of this yet… But even if they were, this artist believes when you look at a painting and see the strokes, finger wipes, color choices, etc… , the charm of seeing this is also in the knowing all that came from some-one individual, and not machine generated. Therefore I believe there will always be a place for original human made art in the same way quality hand made products are typically valued above machine made products.
Perhaps at some point a certification will be needed to establish no use of AI. Something like: “I Michael Ranucci certify this blog is 100% written by me, without any input from AI”. 🙂