The age of AI art – digital paintings, drawings and photographs created by artificial intelligence – is upon us. Who could have imagined a time when an attractive and vibrant “original” work of art could be created simply by typing a few words into a computer? And at what price?
This week Dan’s papers the cover, featuring a version of the Montauk Lighthouse, was entirely made by AI, but it largely resembles many other covers we’ve published over the past 35 years.
Beginning with Elaine de Kooning’s painting in our September 11, 1987 issue, hundreds of artists have since enjoyed the pride and recognition that comes with displaying their work on our cover, but in a world where computers can now produce art based on a few keystrokes entered. by a human, what does this mean for artists who once spent hours, days and weeks working in their studios to create similar images?
While Dan’s has never had to pay the artists who make our covers, it’s clear that this growing trend could provide a business in need of artwork and illustration an easy way around hiring skilled professionals to save money and time by playing around with a few word combinations to get something that’s “good enough”.
Artists around the world are not happy about all this. Some might say that these artists are complaining about the effects of emerging technology on their business, but the matter is more complicated than that. The moral and ethical implications are very real and their rage seems justified.
Learning how AI art is made is key to understanding the controversy currently swirling around its use.
Without getting into a lot of technical jargon, the user experience works like this, at least for me creating this Montauk Lighthouse cover image: I logged into NightCafe Studio (nightcafe.studio), pressed the “Create” button and selected one of five creation methods, each using a different algorithm.
I selected the latest generator, called the “Stable” text-to-image AI art algorithm, designed to create consistent images that follow the laws of physics. From there, I typed in “Montauk Lighthouse”, chose the “Anime” style – one of 28 available style options – and clicked “Create”. Less than a minute later, I had a slightly different version of the image that now graces the cover of this newspaper, for the price of half a credit (of the initial 5 credits NightCafe gives users for to inscribe).
After some consultation, we decided the waves should be bigger since it’s supposed to be Montauk in the winter, so I clicked “Evolve this creation” and added “big waves” to the original prompt, leaving me with the final image you see on our cover.
Much more important is what happens on the computer side. When the AI receives a prompt, it digs through a massive dataset, extracts billions of images online, and stitches those images together based on the inputs to create an acceptable end result.
The problem with this comes down to the images used by the AI. Among these images are billions of personal photographs of people, copyrighted works of art and all other visual data distributed on the Internet – and they are used without permission.
Some of the most popular AI programs, like the ones that create those artistic avatars that pop up all over social media, even offer filters based on the work of specific artists. It’s no surprise that artists, who show direct comparisons of their work to strikingly similar AI creations, feel concerned and violated.
Popular YouTuber Sam Yang of Sam Does Arts explains it all quite succinctly in a video titled Why Artists Are Fed Up With AI Art.
“If you’ve shared your work online, or even images of yourself, your home, your surroundings, you may have been included in these datasets,” Yang points out, adding, “At the time we share them online, we opted for the system, if your work exists online, it will be found and used in an AI artwork.
Sooner or later, I imagine, the millions of AI-generated coins will eventually get incorporated into those datasets as well, and the AI will start basing its art on other AI arts, further laundering the content away from its original source and leaving us with a treasure trove of watered down work that will start to look alike.
Despite all this, I have to admit that creating AI art is a lot of fun. I really enjoyed playing with various long and convoluted text prompts and scalable images based on added text, but I’m careful not to call it my own art, and I wouldn’t try to sell it as such or submit it to a contest, as Jason Allen did with his AI-generated piece, “Space Opera Theater,” which won first place in the Colorado State Fair’s Digital Art category. last fall and helped bring criticism and conversation about AI art to the fore.
There is, of course, a place for the use of AI, but it may take some time to find the best way forward, where it helps the art world and does not harm livelihoods. individual artists.
In its own bubble, a site like NightCafe Studio offers fun themed contests and gives users credit for submitting work, voting for others in daily challenges, and reaching milestones, like landing your first article on the top. 20% with voters.
But it would be a bit crazy for so-called “AI artists” to take full credit for the things they create using these tools.
Oliver Peterson’s true artistic creations, made with his own hands and the occasional computer, can be found at @oliverpetersonart or @oliversees on Instagram. He is also very worried about AI journalists taking his job.