AI – to some, a terrifying vision of the future, a danger to humanity, to others: a marvel of science and technological possibilities. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re stepping into a new era, where Artificial Intelligence becomes a prominent player in so many different areas of life. The art and the whole creative sector included.
It’s human nature to be scared of the things we can’t precisely predict or fully control. No surprise then, that the fast-paced development and implementation of artificial intelligence can seem a bit threatening or even creepy. But is it all that bad? Isn’t there a brighter, more positive way to look at it? That question, among others, is what CHPTR took a dive into by conducting a meeting around AI. Having different professionals from the creative sectors around the table we’ve talked about the impact this new technology already has, and more importantly, will have on our work. And on art in general! The questions below are some of the more persistent and repetitive ones that came out of this thrilling conversation. Fasten your seatbelts.
Is AI-generated art really art?
Or better yet, what is art? As cliche as this question might sound, it’s actually quite a philosophical one, and it’s been proven – more than once – to be a real head-scratcher.
Over the decades we’ve come to embrace many different forms of art that probably wouldn’t make the cut before. And that’s not surprising, considering that, as humans, we are constantly trying to evolve and broaden our horizons.
At first glance, the AI-generated art surely looks like art. It’s visually pleasing, it can evoke emotions, it’s ‚creative’. But what seems to be the tricky part is that there’s no flesh-made artist standing behind it. So is it even real?
Is AI-generated art a threat to all artists?
Again, one of the reasons people get chills at the mere sound of ‚AI’ is that we can’t exactly predict the future of it. But we can speculate.
On one hand, it’s clear that some professions hidden under the umbrella of the creative sector will change – some maybe even drastically. For instance using AI in commercial copywriting will probably prove to be a cheaper and faster alternative for men-crafted work. And if creating a precise picture takes the AI less time than you actually need to find it on stock – that shows a lot. Generally, it seems that pragmatic, practical art is the one that’s the most endangered at the moment, as the intention behind it is strongly attached to capitalistic ideas – the goal is to mass-produce, to do it as fast as possible, at the lowest cost possible.
But when it comes to art which’s main goal is to just be, it’s even harder to say what’s to come. Some believe that it’s also shaky ground, as the AI will only get better at mimicking emotions and styles. It sort of writes itself, so it may one day surpass the limited creature that is a human-being. But, then again, others believe true art will always need humans in order to exist. Even if art-making will mean typing in a code instead of moving a brush on the canvas. The ‚aura’, as Walter Benjamin would describe it, of an art piece – the way it was made, whom it was made by, where and when did it come to existence, is, to some, the core essence of what it means for something to be considered art. Arguably, art is equally in the process of making it, and in the perception of it. We can’t forget that even if something may look and talk like art, to the observer it may not feel the same.
So, although it can’t be said for sure if artists, of all kinds, should feel anxious or not, it is definite that the process of making art, and the definition of art itself will be changing.
What about the advertisement industry?
As stated above, the commercial, pragmatic art (which, in our books, includes advertisement, so also tabletop by proxy) will, without a doubt, go through some kind of a revolution. It’s already undergoing it to some degree. Will it come to a point where almost no humans will be needed to make a commercial? Hopefully not, but it’s hard to say. When comparing a photorealistic AI-generated image of a burger with a photo of the real one, it’s almost – if not impossible – to tell which is which. And there was no set, photographer, lights or even products needed to create it. Brilliant, but also a bit nerve-racking.
Levitating burgers generated by Dall-e
We’ve already established that some jobs might change in the future, some might even not exist anymore. But the new technology might also create totally new career opportunities. And if this new technology continues to grow interest in professional areas, the new kind of professions will appear.
Everything that we’ve talked about above is a combination of speculations and ideas about the future, stemming from the theme of AI taking over the creative industry. But – and that’s a but we should all keep in mind – the presence of AI in artistic endeavours of the future is not a given. Just a moment ago, NFTs were supposed to be the next big thing. And as much buzz as they’re creating along the way, they certainly are not as table-turning as it may have seemed when they first showed up. And people are not that keen on letting them take over either. Technology by itself is not a danger. It’s how we manage and regulate this matter moving forward.
The one thing in life that’s constant and certain is change. Nothing stands still, it’s just that some of the transformations are more prominent, visible and dynamic than others. And while we wait to see what AI brings along with its development, let’s talk about it – let’s ask the questions, even if the answers aren’t there yet. It’s not only a great copying mechanism, but also a way to make sure that, to a degree, humans will always remain a part of this whole process. It’s important to note that as much as it may make us feel uneasy about the future, AI is a tool – it needs a user to work. Until that changes, let’s focus on exploring it with all the new possibilities it brings.
The meeting this text is based on was held at CHPTR by Bites, experimental studio, meeting point and headquarters of Director’y.
The participants: Michał Misiński – film director, Juice co-owner, Andrzej Dragan – Polish physicist, theoretician, artist: photographer, composer, film maker, Kamil Jerzykowski – designer, Mikołaj Krawczunas – director and photographer, Piotr Hołubowicz – photographer and Hołubiowicz Postproduction Studio owner, Katarzyna Wąs – art advisor, Anna Szylar – VN Lab Łódź, Olgierd Cygan – Filmteractive Festival, Jakub Laskus – founder of Bites Studio, Kasia Leśniak – Business Development Director at Bites Studio, Agnieszka Celej – Director’y, Jacek Nagłowski – producer and director of films and cinematic VR, Head of the VR / AR Lab at Łódź Film School, Pola Borkiewicz – Head of the VR / AR Lab at Łódź Film School.