If 2021 is the year The art of NFTs They stormed center stage, then 2022 when they were outclassed by the art of artificial intelligence. The past few months have escalated the huge potential and fears of AI art, many of which will carry over into the coming months.
The conversation around AI art took off strong as of July 2022 after the DALL-E2 machine learning model was made available to 1 million people on the waiting list. DALL-E2 was the long-awaited beta version of DALL-E (named after artist Salvador Dalí and WALL-E from Disney Pixar) by Open AI, an artificial intelligence research lab. DALL-E2 was officially released to the public in September and users couldn’t get enough of the visuals and art generated by language prompts that could be as simple or weird as “an astronaut relaxing on a moon beach” or “Darth Vader riding a tricycle in Outside on a sunny day” (the latter was a prompt used by the AI image creator, Craiyon).
In just one month, an estimated three million people have used this AI art generator to produce more than four million images per day, according to reports.
Users have used DALL-E2 to create images that are inherently absurd, surreal, humorous, and sometimes satirical.
Another major AI creator that has dominated the conversation in the past year, and has seen more complex results, is Midjourney, which runs on the Discord server and also uses text prompts. In its early days, Midjourney became synonymous with otherworldly landscapes, often with a dystopian touch. It quickly gained attention and many artists, illustrators and designers, especially those creating concepts and storyboards, found it attractive. For example, concept artist Andrei Ryabovichev used Midjourney to create fantasy collages featuring angels, supernatural beings, aliens, and astronauts. closer home, GoaThe design studio based on The Busride uses Midjourney to contemplate an alternative future for the Taj Mahal and think about other monuments in a whole new way, available to view on their Instagram page. In their explorations, the following scenarios were considered in conjunction with the artwork made through Midjourney. In one, a massive 9.3-magnitude shook northern India in the year 2031 and the monument was damaged beyond repair. Repair ensued, and the Taj Mahal was rebuilt with Persian poetry filling in the cracks.
Concerns surrounding Midjourney and AI-generated art came to a head when an artist won a Colorado State Art Gallery competition in the “Emerging Digital Artists” category. Jason Allen’s work, Théâtre D’opéra Spatial (Space Opera Theatre), was created with Midjourney. As the title suggests, the artwork depicts a placement of space with figures in robes peeking through a viewport. The work combines space opera with classical Baroque elements.
According to reports, Allen has submitted it in the Digital Art category under the name “Jason M Allen via Midjourney”. As the New York Times reported, the category rules allow any “artistic practice that uses digital technology as part of the creation or presentation process.” This may mean that using AI software to create art is no different than using other software such as Photoshop.
Many believe that as AI art becomes more popular it will create a separate category that will make it stand out from other forms of digital art. However, as the controversy surrounding Allen’s work has shown, artists and designers are increasingly concerned about the apparent ease with which AI seems to provide multiple options for artwork, something that would normally take professional human labor hours, if not days. In recent months, the art and design community has been wondering how artificial intelligence seems poised to put a lot of artists out of their jobs, too.
In a social media post by a user called “loish,” the artist said they wholeheartedly support the ongoing protest against AI art because “my artwork is included in the datasets used to train these image generators without my consent… compare several image generators with artists.” Humans looking for inspiration. These two are not the same…”
That will very much become the story in 2023, as society tries to find a balance between the growing potential of AI art and the ethics surrounding it.
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