lauren's avatar

I think this question is really interesting as a similar question was asked with the invention of photography. A lot of art at the time was based on realism and just capturing the image/portrait and with photography being developed there were questions on whether artists would become unnecessary (especially realist artists). Instead, art switched focus and became more about capturing human emotion and new forms of art became popular - not that these other forms didn't already exist but more emerged and photography itself became a form of capturing art, and this then led to film.

I don't think AI will ever replace current art as I think humans will ultimately strive for connection to other human emotions that can be conveyed through art. I do think that AI might be involved in art as a tool but not as the main creator. I think people will always value the "deeper meaning" conveyed by art and the time spent dedicated to a piece. I don't think these can be replaced by AI yet so it may be a while until AI comes close to actually producing art.

Sturmer's avatar

Photography, film, and then digital art (drawing on a tablet connected to a computer to simulate various tools like oil paint, pencils etc), and now smartphones and classic photographers - all these tech innovations were blamed by skeptics. I like your view on that question!

Stella's avatar

I don't think AI can make art. It sure can replicate it, but the functions of AI miss the human essence required to make art. For example, a lot of people said the AI Van Gogh experience (I've added a picture if anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about) was disappointing because it felt a bit gimmicky and not very authentic.

This is because AI does not have the unpredictability and emotional backdrop of a human. Little quirks and flairs of emotion is what makes art so great and AI as of now simply can't replicate this.

It would be interesting (and a bit scary in my opinion) to see how AI is replicating art in a few years though. Will it be able to take on this humanness when tasked with something creative?

Alex Sinclair's avatar

I agree with a lot of this, or at least I want to. But as you say, the technology is improving extremely quickly, and I think we're already at the point where we could wonder at the marvels of an AI-illustration and have it bring out emotions in us before realising it was AI-generated. Case in point, I went to that Van Gogh exhibition, and until I read your post, I had no idea that AI was involved - I actually loved it, I thought it was pretty magical.

Disclaimer: I went to the Japan exhibit, which I was told by my travelling companion was superior to the equivalent exhibition they'd seen in London (which did leave them feeling disappointed).

EveOnlineTutorials's avatar

This isn't exactly a fair question to ask really.

Art is subjective to personal taste and I would say being taught to appreciate art. For instance, I love digital art, but I am personally about battle scenes and emotional pieces of art.

Now if we look at history and its versions of art, Da Vinci painted 20 pieces of art, people think it's a lot more, and in today's age his art is worth millions subject of the love of millions of people, I personally think his paintings are weird and do not like them.

But this is how art is subjective. if we instruct an AI machine to "create" or "produce" a piece of art, in what way is this being done, subroutines, code, etc, come into play on what it actually is we are instructing the program to make, despite being "AI" it is still just a machine.

So can it produce art that millions would like? Yes, easily, but, the art is a directive or the creator, so... personal tastes come into it.

avrona's avatar

AI art is absolutely art. There's two ways you can look at that: it's art because it's a image intended to look pretty or convey something, or you can just say that what is art is always subjective, hence nothing is preventing AI art from being art, just because its made by a computer.

I also think the convenience of it will make a lot of people, who may be more traditional in their view of art up until this point, not care. Sure, maybe it doesn't have all the details, or it doesn't look quite as you imagined it, but AI being able to generate what would take humans days to draw in a matter of seconds can't be understated. Especially if you aren't artistically gifted, it's pretty much the only way you can get your hand on these assets.

So yeah, what AI generates is very much art, because what objective obstacle is there that stops it from being classified as such?

Lanah Tyra's avatar

I've seen a lot of AI artworks, and for some I would say it is art, for others I would say it's very clearly a montage of "stolen" art. With badly trained AI it's sadly the latter, many artists have discovered a clear copy of their art in the generated picture. Is it still art? Would you call a poem art which has every line taken from another poem? I will leave that up to your judgement.

The AI art I've seen and think is amazing was from a very talented artist who learnt how to phrase his prompts for the AI to give exactly the image they wanted to create. The question is, who created that art truly? The AI based on the words told or the artist by knowing what words to say?

Damien Mason's avatar

Linguistics and Philosophy

First, we must define what art is. If we believe it's "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form," then it gives us a firmer no. Expression, in this instance, refers to "the production of something by pressing it out." There's no direct control from the prompter to the tool beyond instructional. Artificial intelligence simply remixes art from other people and produces something according to a brief or specification.

There's an argument that generative AI is simply the paintbrush in this scenario; a tool used by the artist who puts in the prompt. To that, I pose another question: if I create an idea and tell you to paint it for me, am I still the artist? Visionary, perhaps. Creator, sure. Director? Maybe. But artist, I feel, is a term that's reserved for the action of expression.

There's something special that goes on in a professional or gifted person's mind when they string the right words together, pair certain colours across particular lines, or mould curves in the best places. It draws from years of experiences, emotions, and skill sets that a machine can't hope to understand. The journey of creation is just as important as the end product. And what you get out of it will naturally have imperfections reminiscent of humans themselves.

Should we define 'art' as a catch-all term for pictures, books, poems, and the like? Then yes. AI can create art. What quality you'll get out of it becomes the true debate.

In my humble opinion, AI either gets too close to perfect that it removes the human elements of art or is so far from perfect because of its lack of understanding. It'll never know what it's like to experience class differences, the existential nature of ageing, or the struggles of the human condition. It can't hope but to regurgitate something by proxy of others, and remakes so rarely make for something better than the original.

Alex Sinclair's avatar

I really like this take, and I think you make strong arguments for why neither AI nor prompt-givers should be considered artists. But even if we accept those premises, does it follow that they can't create art? In other words, can only an artist make art?

Damien Mason's avatar

The answer to your question becomes even more complicated when factoring in collaborative mediums like filmmaking. Generally, people consider the film to belong to the director, dubbing them the auteur, but this devalues the contribution of others. At the very least, you could argue the writer, director, and editor are true artists because they lead the charge in the three stages of production (pre, principle photography, and post). But even that feels too simplistic when there are production designers influencing costume and sets, location scouters choosing the perfect place to film, cinematographers framing the perfect shots, and actors bringing characters to life. I'd argue that each and every person actively contributing first-hand is an artist in a film. Specialist artists, but still doing everything first-hand.

Anyone can create art, but it must be through their control and choices. If you select the fabric, cut it, and arrange it in the way you want it to be, you're an artist. With AI, you can select the colours, but it's still AI piecing it all together through its own learned model rather than your learned model. I automatically think LLMs that have learned from the World Wide Web should be disqualified from being considered art because they borrow, or outright steal, from the hard work of others. That said, this opens up three distinct forks of conversation:

  1. What about LLMs trained solely on your own data? Then, surely, it's just an extension of your own consciousness and, with your instructions, a tool for enacting your true vision.

  2. All humans do is remix art anyway, so what's the difference between us and AI? See Everything is a Remix for more information on this. It's a belter YouTube series that's an hour long, but trust me, it's succinct:

  3. If we don't believe AI-generated things could be considered art, then what does that say for the world of accessibility, which AI opens?

All very interesting threads that I'd love to delve into but require way more time than I have on my hands!

Alex Sinclair's avatar

It's such a rabbit hole. Any one of those points could lead into a dissertation. I very almost took a philosophy of art module at university, and I suspect that AI has likely thrown a spanner in the works of many of the leading theories. That said, they would have loved this point of yours:

"What about LLMs trained solely on your own data? Then, surely, it's just an extension of your own consciousness and, with your instructions, a tool for enacting your true vision."

On the point of control and intentional expression, there are also artists for whom a random element is part of the process. I'm thinking of people like Jackson Pollock. Is there such a difference between spraying paint from a brush without knowing the exact results and running your prompts through Midjourney? I'm not sure. It's certainly a lot easier to draw distinctions between AI art and traditional art, like sculpture and painting, than it is more avant garde modern art. 

Damien Mason's avatar

As interesting as the subject is, it's perhaps best you swerved a degree in it, unless you have a nest egg you're sitting on. My partner is a Philosophy PhD dropout because she realised just how cornered the market is job-wise. It's practically reserved for the richest, much like art. It's sad, really, because the subject bleeds into every single aspect of life and should be held in higher regard as a result. I fear critical thinking is on the downswing as attention spans dwindle, but again, that's a whole different topic!

Back on track here, I suspect you're right. There are so many aspects to ponder and never any definitive answers. I love it. I've truly missed conversations like this, so thank you, Alex!

Alex Sinclair's avatar

Sorry Damien, I missed your last reply. I didn't reach PhD level, but I did go as far as a Bachelors in Philosophy, so I can relate to your partner's conundrum. There's even a company I like called The Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

I couldn't agree more on the critical thinking point. As so many people are, I'm biased towards the importance of my own degree, but I wholeheartedly believe that critical thinking and philosophy should be taught in secondary school. Tech solutions for the spread of disinformation seem always to be a decade behind what's required, and I believe that the only way to futureproof generations against new iterations of it is to provide critical thinking training. Finland start at primary school.

As you say, that's a whole new rabbit hole (and one we have some relevant bounties lined up for). But I've loved the chat too, so thank you!

Paul's avatar

I don't believe AI pictures are art.

The software can not be inspired or create on its own so it copys. It looks for images of what has been asked and basically makes a picture with them (can you tell im a really techy person).

There is a word for this and that it plagiarism. AI is still very new and because of this it isnt covered by law however it will happen.

Dont get me wrong, there is a place for AI but that should not be replacing human creation.

Kings Court's avatar

A good question, In my opinion Ai can make images, Images based on your needs and of what already exists. The issues with Ai being able to create "art" is can they create what doesn't already exist and without using the art styles and techniques already in place from actual artists on the internet, this is where I think Ai fails ! The ability to dream up and create fantasy in the mind of an artist is not something easy to recreate ! but then this leads down a deeper hole of what we consider to be "art" and how it is represented, which is WHOLE other subject and filled with subjective views !

As someone who does create art, I am not afraid nor do I try to villainise Ai, I do not like that the current model uses artists work to create their own but that is another subject. I can see a use for Ai in the creativity process, and then artists can build upon that, etc.

I do think that this does fall in line with other enhancements in Society in General and Art specifically and how people do get over emotional about the changes, But, I do also understand peoples / Artists worries and upset around their work being used to help Ai generate images without any form of consent !

But to go back to our previous question, Can Generative Ai make art, No, these Ai can make images based on the need of their user, but the Ai itself has no Style of their own, no penmanship, its just a copy.

Sturmer's avatar

It.... depends.

First of all, I strive to remain neutral and avoid making hasty judgments. As a photographer, my own form of artistic expression was heavily criticized ~150 years ago. Back then, critics viewed photographers merely as individuals with black boxes, simply being in the right place at the right time to capture a dozen photons. So art wise, I try to be open-minded and not instantly judge others.

Another point to consider, as many here have already mentioned, is the need to define 'art'. The main issue, in my opinion, is that people often confuse art with creativity. Even then, when someone's creative work transforms into art, does it need to be accepted by 100 people or 10,000? At what threshold does someone's sketch become an art object? This, in itself, is a philosophical question.

We are certainly in the midst of a crisis, but I believe we've faced similar situations before – when photography was introduced, or when films challenged theatre stage. One thing I know for sure is that, although I'm not a painter or a writer, with the help of AI, I can supplement my text with illustrations. I believe these illustrations enhance my content and help convey the right mood and vibe. A year ago, I didn't have such a tool at my disposal, and I had to resort to using screenshots, memes, or photos instead.


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