By Raymond Street
New Art, New Year
As another year crests over the calendar the art world is buzzing with a new idea; AI art.
Artificial Intelligence is computer programmed intelligence, or at least mimics human intelligence enough to perhaps be indistinguishable from a person.
So, what is AI Art and why does it matter?
First, AI art is a privately owned program which can be fed digital images, and then takes details from the images and creates a new image. You then are required to feed the AI a word like “apple” or “sunset” to even get started, and then it will select all the images from its database and spit out 4+ images based on your input. You can then select from the images, refine the search, and add new details or feedback.
There are multiple AI programs out there and they all don’t have access to the same images, but most will have any images already available on the internet. The companies require a monthly fee and might be part of another program. DISCORD for example has a built in AI program called Mid Journey, so you must have access to DISCORD to access the AI. You can upload any images from your computer to add the program, but you won’t be credited or compensated if you are an artist, it’s a one-way road.
So rather than finding an artist, chatting with them about what kind of picture you want, and then having them paint you a picture based on their influences and experiences, the AI program makes something based on internet searches and uploaded images.
When new technology emerges, there is a lot of gray area, so looking at previous technologies might help to illuminate this idea a bit more.
Photography for example changed the course of painting. Realism became less important, and art moved into surrealism and postmodern styles. Photographers became a new kind of artist, and now everyone has a camera to share their perspective. The techniques and ability to paint realism still exists and many people still appreciate the mastery.
Next, is the medium of collage. This is taking printed images or photos, often not created by the artist, and then cut and rearranged into a new image. Collage has progressed greatly over the years, and with digital art, photoshop and other programs, any image can be altered, cropped, smeared just enough to validate an artist’s touch.
So how similar is AI art to photography or collage? Well, the AI art is taking aspects of these images like size, shape, even style and color combinations to create something new. However, if the image included a signature there is often an unreadable name smeared in the corner. Eyes and fingers also seem difficult for AI art, since the program has a difficult time with the subtle asymmetry. Perhaps in historic retrospect, this period of AI art will be distinct with its issues regarding eyes, fingers, and signatures.
Something AI art lacks is a narrative creation. There is no story about the artist or what they experienced, or a historic event they are reflecting. Ai art lacks the nuance of brushstrokes of a physical medium, although 3d printers or robot arms could change this.
The other thing Ai art lacks is trademark and strict copyright laws since there is no human owner of the artwork. Many artists have lost money and are losing their distinction to an AI program who can copy their color palettes, their shapes, and style, especially if their artwork is digital.
I think if AI art becomes successful and common, then big companies like Disney would pay to have their brands and icons prioritized in the AI art process. This would mean that if you made AI art about robots, mermaids, genies, astronauts, castles etc., they would favor aspects of Disney trademarked images as a method of passive advertising.
The lines are blurry in every direction. Artists and visionaries are now having to put their imaginations to a sharp edge to define the boundaries of artistic distinction. There are more dangers and consequences outside of art and artists. I decided to ask an emerging AI program about these dangers, to see if something else could be described. So here is a quote from ChatGPT regarding the dangers of AI art:
“Question: What are the dangers of AI ART?
“Answer: While AI art can be a very powerful tool for creating unique and interesting works of art, it also has the potential to be dangerous if not used carefully. One of the biggest dangers of AI art is that it has the potential to be used to create fake or misleading content. For example, AI-generated images of videos could be used to create fake news stories or manipulate public opinion. Additionally, the use of AI art could lead to the loss of jobs in the creative industries, as the technology becomes increasingly advanced and capable of creating works that are indistinguishable from those created by humans. It’s important to consider these potential dangers and take steps to mitigate them as the AI in art continues to grow.”
Images produced with consideration for Ophelia Darkly (face), Veronika Kozlov (hands), and created with: Midjourney and Lensa (AI Programs):
These opinions come from the years Raymond Street has served as a Normandy Park Art Commissioner, a grant writer and artist for the Mural Masters Graffiti festival, a previous Burien Art Walk organizer, a painter, a volunteer and fiction writer in the Burien, Normandy Park and Des Moines area. There are many more ideas and experiences around Art, and this is not meant to be any sort of authority on the multiple meanings of Art or anyone else’s experiences.