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With A.I., Art is Instantly Interesting
Off-the-cuff prompts about A.I. art
Hello, Elated here. I just wrapped up about an hour of playing around with NightCafe AI Art Generator, a (conditionally) free AI art-maker. Weeks ago, a friend asked me to give him some prompts to use for DALL-E, and the results were very impressive. Unfortunately, I must say that a few of the 10 text-to-art computerized renderings had some ‘soul’ to them… and to make things worse/better, DALL-E 2 is among us. There is a place for a deep-dive into A.I. art - when / where it started and who used it, how it actually works, etc. etc., up to the present where it seems like anyone can now make reasonable and even excellent art. But that place is not here. Here, I simply want to share my opinions on the general situation, from the standpoint of an artist and digital art collector.
When I think of A.I. art I don’t get critical or reflexively negative. That’s useless: it’s here, being actively used, and can’t be stopped. Rather, I think of what type of art A.I. will have difficulty creating / mimicking. In the same way I often think of what jobs robots (and A.I.) will have trouble doing, such as sales; teaching; counseling - in all its many forms; fine instrument-making; cannibus cultivation; and many others. Really, would you buy your weed from a robot? I don’t smoke (anything) but if I did, I certainly wouldn’t. I believe A.I. art-generation will consistently fail to beat the masters of genres, whatever the art-type may be. But life will be scarier for all artists now that anyone can basically breathe art for the price of a monthly subscription. Sculptors are not excluded, since it’s probably child’s play to hook up an A.I. art-generator to a 3D printer…
But is A.I. Art ‘Wrong’?
What’s wrong is that question. Technology cannot be reversed. A new way of making art has been discovered, as a byproduct of a much larger, encompassing innovation. Resultingly, Pandora’s palette has been made available to the world. Whether or not A.I. art is ‘wrong’, it will cause many, many problems. For example, Théâtre D’opéra Spatial (above) by Jason Allen made many people upset after it won him a competition at the Colorado State Fair. He didn’t conceal the artwork’s origins, but Mr. Allen’s fellow competitors felt a sense of betrayal. I would have too, although I believe he earned his win fairly since no rules were violated. Going forward, in my opinion, the Colorado State Fair should make a sub-category for A.I. art within digital art.
Then there’s the issue of plagiarism, a subject as difficult as that word is to spell (for me lol). Millions of artworks generated using A.I. purposely ape the style of established artists, past and present. The prompts used for those artworks simply contained the artist’s names. Understandably, this can be shocking and dismaying to a living artist of any caliber or experience. While the wrong-ness of A.I. art is ultimately an unproductive conversation imo, I feel very strongly that art generated mostly or all by artificial intelligence is cheat-art. It’s fun and can create genuine art. But it’s cheating. You talk or write and the computer does the art. Come on.
What to Look Forward to
Five things, I think: fun, problems, scandals, tons of litigation, and perpetually-advancing A.I. (as Stellabelle warns during our interview on YouTube Pt1, Pt2). To counter the last four of those five things, there might have to be efforts to regulate A.I. somewhat. For instance, to not allow work that contains more than 50% A.I. work to be copyright-able. In other words, Jason Allen might have won September’s Colorado State Fair digital art competition, but I don’t believe he should be able to copyright Théâtre D’opéra Spatial going forward. He didn’t make that art. His computer did. Going further, I think that art created with 100% A.I. work should automatically be public domain. Nice to look at, yes, but any self-respecting artist wouldn’t take credit for a fully-A.I.’d work. I also believe that A.I. works - whether full or partial - should not be allowed to compete against works made fully by manual human effort. To put it more specifically, prompt art should have its own categories, by percentages of A.I. used (tools should be made to verify this).
The Good Side
Is there one? I think A.I. technology is a major case of Science unleashed - carelessly or purposely. Lesser-talented children and adults will now be able to ‘enjoy’ the ‘process’ of ‘creating’ art, but it will be a very shallow experience. Undoubtedly many will boast of their newfound artistry. Is that good? Yes, I think. Better than walking around in a video game murdering people and getting increasingly used to the idea of that, in my opinion. A.I. art is not destructive and could be relaxing and perhaps therapeutic for some.
Final Thoughts on A.I. Art, For Now
A.I. art is here. It will increasingly occupy galleries, often next to manual art. It will be used by companies that intend only to profit mightily from the mass-creation of art this technology allows and encourages. Artists will (and should) feel threatened. We should not give in to that fear, but - like Stellabelle has done - should tackle the bull head-on and learn A.I. for the sake of our own curiosity; our own art; and our own peace of mind. After all, it’s a program.
And as always, some art before you part. I will not take the credit for my 100% A.I. piece, Childhood’s End (inspired by the book of the same name), though I like it very much and am presenting it on behalf of Com Puter, the artist responsible.