March 28, 2023
Part 3 of this article completes the discussion regarding the intersection of the visual arts and AI. Parts 1 & 2 were published over the last two weeks. A list of sources and disclaimers for the entire piece is included at the end of Part 3.
It is important to note that most AI art created today is not used in traditional visual arts contexts, such as in galleries or exhibitions. Instead, it is often used on social media and other digital platforms, where it is shared and distributed widely. This creates significant challenges in terms of fair use and compensation for copy-written artistic material, as it can be difficult to track and control the distribution of AI-generated art on the Internet.
One major issue, as mentioned before, is that many AI artworks are created using training datasets that include copy-written images and artwork, often without the permission or knowledge of the original artists and photographers. This raises concerns over the protection of intellectual property and the ability of artists to control and profit from their work. In addition, it can be difficult to determine who is responsible for the use of copy-written material in AI artwork, as it is often unclear who created the training dataset and who has the rights to the resulting AI-generated art.
There is a growing need for clearer policies and guidelines around the use of copy-written material in AI art, as well as for more effective ways to track and compensate artists and photographers for the use of their work. While these are complex issues that will require the cooperation of artists, technology companies, and policymakers, it is important for all stakeholders to work together to find solutions that respect the rights and interests of artists and photographers.
ArtStation is an online platform used by artists, studios, and other organizations in the visual arts industry to showcase their work and connect with potential clients and collaborators. AI is impacting ArtStation and, thus, the broader visual arts industry in a number of ways. For example, ArtStation may be used by some artists who use AI to show their unique and complex artwork that is difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional art-making techniques. This could lead to new opportunities for artists to showcase their work and reach new audiences.
On the other hand, this also raises concerns about the authenticity and value of AI-generated art and whether it should be considered on the same level as art created by humans. This can potentially impact the perception and value of the art on ArtStation and other platforms, which may affect the way artists and studios approach the use of AI as a tool to create artwork.
Some artists have gone so far as to protest the inclusion of AI art on the ArtStation platform, filling the home page with images of an anti-AI poster, originally created by Alexander Nanitchkov, to the point that it has taken over the site.
Overall, the impact of AI on ArtStation and the visual arts industry is likely to be complex and multifaceted and will depend on the specific ways in which AI is used and the evolving attitudes of artists, studios, and other stakeholders.
AI in Other Artforms
AI has the potential to revolutionize not just visual arts, but also other art forms such as writing. One way in which AI is changing the landscape of writing is by allowing users to generate text in the style of specific authors.
There are now various AI algorithms trained on large collections of text written by a particular author and which are able to generate new text in the style of that author. This is done by providing the algorithm with a prompt or topic and then having it generate a piece of text that is written in the style of the reference author.
This technology has the potential to be a powerful tool for writers and researchers, as it allows them to explore and experiment with different writing styles and techniques. It could also be used to generate new works in the style of classic authors or to create texts that are written in the style of specific historical or cultural contexts.
Just as with the visual arts, the use of AI to generate text in the style of specific authors raises serious ethical and philosophical questions. It is important for writers and researchers to consider these issues and to approach the use of AI with care and respect for the work and legacy of the original authors.
Artists who Use AI as a Tool in their Artwork
Brendan Murphy is an artist who uses AI to create artwork that explores the relationship between humans and technology. In interviews, Murphy has described his approach as similar to landscape photography in that he wanders around a “landscape” of human art and looks for interesting things to capture and explore.
Murphy sees AI as a tool that allows him to access and analyze vast amounts of data and information about human art and to discover patterns and relationships that might not be immediately apparent to the human eye. He views AI as a sort of parallel universe of human art, and he uses it to explore and discover new ways of seeing and understanding the world.
Jennifer Lepp is a writer who uses AI to help generate ideas and storylines for her writing. Lepp is part of a growing community exploring the use of AI in any creative process and who are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate technology into their work.
“It doesn’t drive my plot. It doesn’t generally drive any of the ideas in my books. It doesn’t create characters. But the actual words, just to get them down faster and get it out, I do (use AI).” (Dzieza, 2022)
Murphy’s and Lepp’s use of AI in their work reflects a broader trend toward the use of technology during the creative process and the exploration of the relationship between humans and machines. This raises important questions about the nature of artistic creativity and the role of the artist in an increasingly technological world. It is likely that we will see more writers and artists using AI to generate ideas and inspire their work in the coming years.
Given the long history of appropriation in art and the move away from the artist’s images toward the ideas and thoughts behind the artwork, I find it hard to condemn the use of AI as a valid and valuable tool for artists. Just as the advent of photography changed painting, this new technology will change the way artists work and what they create. In the late 1800s, artists lost the market for recreating images of people because the camera could create perfect portraits of patrons quicker and better than painters could. How did the artists react? They pushed artwork in new and interesting directions. They showed how thought and ideas really can be the center of art, not just the image.
This is a new revolution within the art world, but there are big similarities. New technology has developed that can do what many illustrators and photographers have carved out as their niche within the economic system. It is disrupting their income stream and will continue to do so. There is a valid argument that jobs are being taken away due to this new technology. It has happened before and will happen again, and the key will be how people adapt and change with that technology.
With regard to visual arts education, my job is to teach students how to think like artists. Yes, being skilled in creating artwork, or the craft of art, is incredibly important and fun. But the ideas behind the work – the creative thinking – are what I am really trying to teach students.
When studying the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) method, I recall a teacher talking about student collaboration and their recognition of when a certain student excels at a particular skill or craft. The other students partner with this person for assistance with their project, either them teaching the technique or helping in doing the work (the craft), and the ability to seek expertise can be more important than learning a new skill in the real world.
During my MFA program, a professor once asked me whether I’d rather spend two years learning how to weld a large metal sculpture or hire an expert to create the sculpture so I could spend time in my studio. As a creative person, quite often the answer is to create something. In a professional work environment, we do the same thing: People outsource certain work to others and to different companies. Why reinvent the wheel?
This is one of my favorite pieces of artwork because it illustrates how art has moved on from the image to the ideas and thoughts about a piece of artwork. Yes, it is a blank piece of paper, but it does have a thousand hours of intentional stare on it. I love to ask my students if this is indeed art because this empty palette introduces the differences between art and craftsmanship. How artwork makes you feel and think is driving the art world, and it is this essential way of thinking that is important when educating students. Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are the most powerful ways to help students grow to see the world in interesting ways. As art teacher, or any type of teacher really, I cannot see a more powerful way to open students up to the many possibilities that exist in the world and how they can help shape the future and reality.
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Disclaimer: Small parts of this article were written by ChatGPT in an exercise to see how AI worked in regards to writing as well as to show how artists and authors are using AI in real-world situations.