By Emanuel Maia
Dean, School of Creative Practice, Pearl Academy
Artificial Intelligence has become the “New Normal.” Therefore the foray of AI into artwork should not come as a surprise to anyone. While the sudden birth of several new AI tools for generating art has made it more accessible than ever and is definitely a huge step ahead for human creativity, there are also ethical and legal concerns that need redressal. Perhaps, the biggest concern for creative practitioners today is: Will their talent and work remain relevant?
With AI blurring the boundary between human influence and machine creation, these are valid concerns. Here’s an example: Last year, the Colorado State Fair’s Annual Art Competition handed out prizes in its usual categories of art including sculptures, painting, and design. Shockingly, the winner who took the blue-ribbon home did not brush a single stroke to take home the award. Jason M. Allen of Pueblo West, Colo created his artwork “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” using Midjourney, an AI program that simply turns words into hyper-realistic graphics. His art is one of the first AI-generated pieces to win such a prize. This sparked a debate on ethics, copyright and other related issues.
Then, there is the ingress of NFT artwork in the creative arena. NFT artwork is a digital asset that is verified using blockchain technology. It has become popular in recent years, and the current market for NFT artwork is growing rapidly. The market is expected to reach a value of $1.3 billion by the end of 2021 and $4.6 billion by 2025, according to experts.
Is AI Art Really Art?
This question is a paradox. AI has the potential to revolutionize the art industry by allowing artists to create new and innovative artworks that may not have been possible without the help of AI. On the flipside, AI has the potential to revolutionize the art industry by allowing artists to create new and innovative artworks that may not have been possible without the help of AI. AI can help artists explore new techniques and styles, and can provide them with tools to create more complex and intricate artwork.
While NFT artwork may be a great development, copyright infringement remains a big area of concern, besides the environmental impact of NFTs. According to a report by Memo Atken, an artist and researcher in the field of blockchain art, the creation and sale of a single NFT can result in the consumption of enough electricity to power a household for a month. Additionally, with the rise of NFTs, there is a possibility that the market could become oversaturated, leading to a decrease in value for NFT artwork.
Digital art is nothing new. Art generated via artificial intelligence has been around for a few decades. In the 1960s artists worked with computers and used algorithms to create what is now termed generative art. What was once considered a partnership between artist and machine is now being viewed as the machine ‘deciphering’ and ‘designing’ for itself.
It is only recently, with the release of tools like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, that many amateur artists are able to produce complex, abstract, and even photorealistic works simply by typing a few lines into a text box. It has lent them the power to create something new, well almost something completely new, without having to hit their head for new ideas. Also, these systems and tools definitely help to improve productivity as they quantify the speed, thus helping those working towards mass creation speed up the process.
AI tools are dependent on language understanding and learning models as they are fed with humungous quantities of data to generate images only by deciphering a few words. For example, Google’s trained Imagen on LAION-400M encompasses a database of 400 million images associated with written captions that are readily found on the net. It is from here that these tools get their inspiration. The collectibles of images are fed into the system or to the tool to generate several new as well as different illustrations corresponding to a request or prompt made by the user.
Advantages of Incorporating AI in Art
Good-looking designs and New Careers
AI enables users to design great-looking pieces of art without professional skills. But the creative decision-making part of the design process can always be honed when handled by a trained professional from the creative field. This also means a doorway to new careers will be wide open for creative practitioners.
Quick Idea & Sketch Generation
AI tools are built with the ability to process gigantic amounts of information for simulations and pattern detection, which is more difficult for humans. Thus have a quick turnaround time with flexibility to try varied styles of illustration and sketches, without having to indulge in the tedious task of creating artwork from scratch every time.
AI Is the New Brainstorming Buddy
It is indeed challenging for designers and artists to come up with new concepts and ideas during artistic projects. Artificial Intelligence has brought with it the ability to create something new by just putting in some words. This ability can spark the creative process and lend new ideas, which can be used as starting points for projects. This generative model offers contemporary artists the ability to look at things with fresh approaches and concepts.
All said it is highly unlikely that humans will stop creating art just because a tool or a new piece of technology can create generative art. Nevertheless, it is a harsh truth, and creators and artists need to accept that there is someone, something that can do their job within minutes, even seconds. AI is pushing the limits of creative human expression further than ever, it, however, is still dependent on us to command or prompt it. It is also true that contemporary artists will have to alter their way of creating, and surely the creative sector will incorporate AI into its workflows, but we truly hope that human-created art does not disappear. It is this form of art that captures emotions, feelings, and sensitivity, which is currently missing in AI-generated artwork.
There are two sides to the ingress of AI in art: One section believes that it takes away the essence of human creativity and expression. The other section believes that AI generated art is the future and should be appreciated for the value it brings. But where is this taking us? The answer to that question can only be unfolded over time.