AI DAY , October 28, 2023 , AI ART: killing artist or making them stronger?
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Is AI art truly art? The question seems simple, but it's one that has provoked impassioned debate among artists and audiences alike. A recent conversation I had served as a poignant reminder of the divided perceptions people have on this subject. Yet, as an individual enthusiastic about the possibilities AI holds for art, I must stand in defense of the legitimacy of AI art.
Let's start with the origins of artistic innovation. Throughout history, every novel stride in art has been met with resistance and skepticism. When artists first applied perspective to their work, certain factions (notably, the Church) were up in arms, asserting that it disrupted the divine flow of creativity. Similar uproar was seen with the advent of Impressionism, as critics bemoaned its lack of accuracy. And let's not forget the advent of photography—merely pushing a button, they said, was not art.
However, art, in its very essence, is a spectrum that accommodates an infinite array of expressions and forms. To say AI art isn't real art is akin to disregarding any form of digital art, photography, or anything that stretches beyond our traditional, comfort-laden definition of art.
Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer of Dadaism, once introduced the concept of Art Trouve or "found art," declaring that art already exists in our world—we only need to find it. And isn't AI the ultimate form of Art Trouve? It allows us to explore uncharted territories of creative landscapes, embarking on a journey to discover and bring back treasures of artistic brilliance.
In the age of AI, the act of creating art has taken on a new form. AI allows us to choose our future with unprecedented capability and power. If anything, AI is a liberator, providing us with more control over our artistic and personal lives.
Classical artists used to frequent museums to copy, imitate, and subsequently internalize the essence of masterpieces. This process, they believed, honed their artistic sensibilities. AI, in its essence, follows the same path. It learns from a vast repository of data, absorbing patterns, nuances, and styles, and uses that knowledge to create something new.
Perhaps it's human nature to fear the unfamiliar, the new, the disruptive. And AI, with its ground-breaking implications, indeed instills a sense of existential crisis in some. But is that not the case with every significant advancement in human history?
Yes, art is about evoking feelings, provoking thoughts, and it's intertwined with the complexity of the human condition. But let's not forget: the beholder's eyes determine the value of art. It's not solely about the process of creation—it's about the impact, the resonance, the emotion that the end product stirs within the viewer.
If you see a night sky shimmering with stars, does it not move you to the core, filling you with awe and wonder? Yet, no human hand crafted this celestial spectacle. Can we then deny it the status of art because it wasn't birthed by human endeavour?
So, to my interlocutor and anyone who shares similar reservations about AI art, I say: Reach deeper into your sentiments. Understand that art is not confined to canvases, brushes, or human hands. It's as boundless as the universe, as fluid as water, and as enigmatic as the human mind. AI art is just another manifestation of this boundlessness—and a testament to our eternal quest for innovation and reinvention.
Consider the ever-changing face of art through history, the criticism each shift endured, and the eventual acceptance and reverence it received. AI art is traversing the same path today. So, let's give it the space and openness it needs to breathe, grow, and eventually flourish.
Just like the mesmerizing night sky, AI is not bound by traditional artistic limitations. It's a new dawn for the artistic world, one that holds immense potential for discovery, interpretation, and emotional resonance. Let's not curtail its growth with our preconceived notions of what art 'should' be.
And finally, let us not forget the ultimate truth: Art is in the eye of the beholder. Whether created by a paintbrush, a camera, or an algorithm, it is the viewer's connection to the piece that truly defines its artistic value. In the case of AI, we are explorers, traversing uncharted lands, finding 'art' that moves us and sharing it with the world.
In the words of Marcel Duchamp, "The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act." This holds true, whether the artist is a human or an advanced algorithm.
So, let's embrace AI art for what it truly is - a new frontier, a fresh perspective, a tool that empowers us to explore the limitless expanse of our creativity and gives us the freedom to define, and redefine, the meaning of art.
From my perspective as a seasoned photographer, having captured hundreds of thousands of images, I can attest to the depth of emotion and meaning that AI-generated art can evoke. Let's debunk the notion that emotional resonance in art is solely tethered to the artist's personal experience. Art, in its essence, is a dialogue between the creation and the observer, and its profound impact is cultivated through the viewer's personal interpretations, experiences, and connections to the piece.
In my extensive catalogue, a handful of AI-generated images rest comfortably alongside my most cherished real-life photos. This indicates that the AI, devoid of personal experience or inherent emotion, has nonetheless created something that strikes a chord deep within me. This fact alone elevates AI-generated art beyond simple replication or 'facile art.' It showcases its potential as a legitimate and powerful tool in the art world, capable of inspiring emotion, provoking thought, and even questioning the very nature of art and creation itself.
Many artists view their work as a divine conduit, an opening through which the universe's beauty is channelled and shaped into tangible form. This process is not confined to a particular medium or tool—it's an expansive, inclusive phenomenon that simply requires an artist's open heart and mind.
When we engage with AI as an artistic tool, we're not stepping away from this divine interplay; rather, we're inviting new, unexpected forms of it. AI becomes a mirror reflecting our own inherent creativity, taking our input and transforming it in ways we could never anticipate.
In essence, we're channeling the same boundless creative spirit that has fueled artists throughout history. It's not about replacing the human touch; it's about enhancing our ability to tap into that vast well of universal creativity. So, let's cast aside our restrictions, open our minds to the divine in all forms, and channel the soul of creation through every means available to us.
My journey into the world of art was a deeply personal one. What started as a private pastime soon turned into a compelling need to share the otherworldly beauty I saw and captured through my lens. For me, art is a portal that lets us manifest pieces of the divine into our everyday reality.
Everything around us carries a spark of the divine, so the act of creating art becomes an exercise in deciding what parts of that divinity we wish to magnify and illuminate. It's not just about capturing beauty, it's about shaping our reality, choosing which fragments of the universe we want to give voice to.
So when we engage with AI in our artistic process, we aren't distancing ourselves from this divine dialogue; rather, we're inviting new voices to join the chorus. AI becomes a partner in our quest, helping us to discover and share yet unseen aspects of the world's inherent wonder. It's not a replacement for the human touch; it's a new lens through which we can continue to explore the infinite canvas of existence.