AI: The new Van Gogh... or not

Fri, 10/03/2023 - 08:39

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for contributing to yet another AI article in a world that is oversaturated with them, but as everyone is talking about it, I didn’t want to be left out. 

Whenever I pop online, it’s all my LinkedIn feed is full of. Maybe I tend to just follow these sorts of people, but generally speaking, it is a hot topic and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And with good reason. These tools are incredibly useful and instead of fearing the rise of AI, I want to address the idea that these tools are going to replace people.

I follow some creatives on various platforms and they tend to shift their focus a lot, which many of us tend to do, so sometimes they’re posting sketches and sometimes photographs, for example. Although it may not be earth-shattering work, it is their creative expression, no matter what form it takes on. 

However, as of late, I’ve noticed these same people have become proficient in technique. Their once rough pieces of work they’d share have now turned into exceptionally wrought pieces that are near perfect. I was suspicious, of course, so I went in search of answers. After chatting to a few of these ‘artists’, I got an admission of guilt; they’d used AI.

Shock and horror. 

There are so many implications here; let’s take a look at them below.

1. Firstly, art is an expression of the human condition. It is made up of all the experiences that have shaped us, hurt us, brought us joy, and forced personal growth upon us. These experiences are then expressed on and through the artist's medium of choice, whether it be on a canvas or in the form of words. Asking an AI to create your art on your behalf removes all of the human element, and dare I say, the most important element. It takes something away from each brush stroke, each imperfect line, and each play on words. Artistic expression changes from this organic and human piece of work into something almost clinical and void of true artistic expression, the imperfect beauty of the artist. I mean, how can an AI who has never lost a loved one truly convey the complex emotions, let alone create a piece of artwork to showcase them? 

2. Secondly, knowing that the actual execution of the work has been taken care of by something other than an artist themself, brings with it a tendency to scrutinise the subject matter. This is where AI truly shines. By removing the veneer, we are forced to focus on the grain. Orcs, elves, and comic book characters are all there and it’s all stale and done to death. Digital art has a name for being horrid, and the use of AI will only make it better. Not from a technical point of view, but hopefully it’ll bring an improvement in the subject matter. After we’ve seen our millionth dragon spewing flames at an army of hopeless men, there will be a revolt against the revolting.

3. Thirdly, and the most concerning point in my opinion, AI brings with it the death of artistic expression. Putting this AI tool to the test and wanting a piece of this art action, I found myself an AI tool that generates images. After playing around with it for a little, it made some pretty nice pictures based on my inputs, I must admit. After a while, it then gave me a prompt that led to an epiphany. “Add the phrase, ‘like Vermerr’ to get a specific style.” AI will never have its own style; it will always rely on the humans that came before in order to replicate it. 

The point I’m trying to make is that as much as we may fear the rise of AI, without the creatives and humans behind the machine, there is no AI.

A final word to the wise: AI will not be able to replace the artists it imitates; it will always rely on humans to create first so that it may produce the work based on what it sees. My last point on this topic is that if you are using artificial intelligence tool to generate art, whether it be in the form of images or writing, it’s important to credit the tool you’re using so we don’t get caught up thinking that this “perfection” before us is real.

This article was first published on Bizcommunity.

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