⟵ Blog home
How AI is shifting the art ecosystem
From virtual galleries to online exhibitions, technology has given artists unprecedented visibility and accessibility, revolutionising the way art is created, and how artists showcase their works.
Recent advancements in AI have shifted the dial further, sparking new ideologies on the subject. One such theory is by economist Noah Smith who calls AI the ‘third magic’ (or the ‘large-scale meta-innovation’), that can update the way we learn about the world, following the development of history.
But in recent months the cascade of advances in AI has surprised the cynics. Concerns about AI, particularly text-to-image generators, have instigated a renewal of the idea of the ‘creative singularity’ – a term defined by futurist Ray Kurzweil to describe the merging of human and cyborg.
This renders a new reality in creative fields, particularly in the arts, where the generative AI process can shift workflows, augment human tasks, and make it difficult for people to distinguish between what is real and what is not.
With AI art projects and events dominating the market, it calls for questions surrounding aesthetics, copyright and convergence. In this article, we explore how AI is challenging art and its conventions and how the tools may shape us.
New aesthetics and artistry
Generative AI or trained AI models based on vast amounts of data, can mimic various artistic techniques and styles, creating art that is indistinguishable from art made by humans. Consequently, this can shift aesthetics, transforming the way artists make art and how gallerists promote art.
Refik Anadol, a media artist and designer using AI algorithms to deliver imagery and media art, is among those who are experimenting with AI and machine learning algorithms to generate large-scale public art installations. His latest exhibition, Unsupervised, at MoMA touches upon creativity, technology, and modern art, and reimagines the history of modern art, dreaming about what might have been, and what is yet to come.
The exhibition explores fantasy, hallucination, and irrationality, creating a different form of art-making itself. It confirms what writer K Allado-McDowell calls the ‘four side effects’ of working with text-to-image engines: hallucination, hybridization, mutated language and possession.
Overall, the show allows viewers to come to terms with new ways of making history at the edge of what’s technologically possible. It also poses a general question among viewers: will content, including a painting or piece of journalism, be made by a person or a machine?
The human-AI convergence
During the 2022 Venice Art Biennale, a collateral show focused on the examination of the cyborg – particularly on the hybrid body. The exhibition, Leaping into the Metaverse, showed the world’s first realistic AI robot artist, Ai-Da, capable of making sketches, drawings, sculptures and painting, and interacting with humans.
It looked at the future to show how humanity interacts with AI technology, and how the greatest artists in history grappled with their period of time, both celebrating and questioning society’s shifts. It showed how the use of AI can alter how art is produced, organised and applied in reality, and how the world will be shaped by this hybrid form of art.
AI robot Ai-Da prior to giving evidence to a House of Lords inquiry where she will answer questions concerning tech and creativity. The House of Lords, Palace of Westminster, London, Great Britain 11th October 2022 Ai-Da Robot makes history as the first robot to speak at the House of Lords as part of their ‘A Creative Future inquiry’ examining potential challenges for the creative industries and looking at how they can adapt as tech advances. Able to converse using a specially designed language model, she appears alongside creator Aidan Meller in front of members of the House of Lords communications and digital committee. Photograph by Elliott Franks
Automation and the disruption of creative work
Generative AI is the latest in a long line of innovations that have expanded our artmaking capabilities, further developing the human-machine relationship.
But the utilisation of new AI tools can also pose some challenges. For example, the use of AI can influence who is algorithmically ‘discoverable’ or ‘findable’, favouring those able to produce and share content quickly over those who spend more time developing their work. This can impact people’s ability to connect with meaningful art.
In addition, theft and copyright issues can arise since the tools have already been trained on artists’ work, sometimes without their consent (mostly due to a disregard of ethical considerations when systems are designed). In some way, this confirms that AI is not neutral, and that AI-based decisions can lead to embedded biases and inaccuracies.
AI-based platforms can act as valuable resources for artists looking to improve their skills and techniques. Collaboration is an integral part of the artistic journey and AI facilitates new forms of joint work: artists can collaborate with AI systems to create interactive installations, immersive experiences, and multimedia artworks.
Ultimately, these AI tools are new developments that have potential to influence the art industry for the better. But the sudden explosion of AI tools, and lack of ethics within the trained models, means that cultural organisations, institutions, and government bodies must be wary of the potential side effects of the tech, and ensure a validating structure – i.e.digital gatekeepers or authenticators – are built to ensure proper guidelines are in place.
Get in touch with the team to learn more about TDC and how our clients are using AI: [email protected]