Digital Art and Artificial Intelligence

Posted on July 10, 2017

When I read these words again in 5 or maybe 10 years’ time, what will I think? What will have happened? Will my assessment of what the future holds be close to the mark or miles off?

Recently I had the privilege of attending the AI meetup where Ronan Whitteker presented on digital art and the growing role AI is playing in generating digital Art. This included graphic art, videos, screenplays and music. Ronan is both a digital artist and passioniate about AI.

As an artist, I entered with a sceptical mind. As a technologist, I was looking to be amazed by possibilities. As a rationalist I wondered - why are we obessesed with trying to get computers to do things that humans are already good at and like doing? As an entrepreneur I thought – why not?

An artist is two things.

Firstly, an artist (musician, songwriter, actor, director, painter, sculptor etc) is someone who tells a story. They then use their media to direct the user’s attention to the story; to hear or see what the artist wants them notice, and, generate the emotion that the artist wanted them to experience. The effect may be beautiful or jarring, comforting or provocative. The artist attempts to engage the audience to think, without preaching at them.

Secondly, we admire artists for their excellence. We admire them for their astonishing ability to play a guitar or piano, or sing in a way that we could never. We admire their ability to remember lines and recite them with expression and timing while moving across a stage. We admire them for their ability to control paint and colour and produce likenesses that we can recognise.

Google AI Art

Google

My overall impression was that my sceptical side won out on the night. AI inspired digital art still has an awful long way to go to even catch up, let alone threaten the existence of artists. On both the counts above the digital art falls a long way short. The AI generated screen play contained coherent sentences but no sign of a story and it still required actors directors and costumes for any sign of excellence.

It’s easy to be critical of artists at the cutting edge. Monet, Picasso and Warhol were all roundly criticised early in their careers and they all went on the change the art world.

When I read these words again in 5 or maybe 10 years’ time, what will I think? What will have happened? Will my assessment of what the future holds be close to the mark or miles off?

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