Home Magazine AI Art defined: what is Artificial Intelligence art and what does it mean for artists?

From DALL-E to ChatGPT, artificial intelligence is everywhere. Our newfound access to these tools has made many to question the possibility of computer-generated content, from writing to art to design. 

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Questions about the future of art abound. What does the art world look like when art can be created without the need for an artist? These kinds of questions are ringing out evermore as the advances of artificial intelligence technologies come into the hands of users around the world. 

This article looks at artificial intelligence art and explores how artists use it to their advantage.

What is AI Art?
In its simplest terms, Artificial Intelligence Art (or AI Art) is a form of art—whether illustrations, photographs or digital drawings—generated by artificial intelligence algorithms and systems. 

However, not all AI Art consists of 2D computer-generated pictures. There are many different approaches to AI art that range from photography to conceptual art and abstract art.

AI Art can take many forms, from artworks that are generated algorithmically on demand to works that are created by humans using AI tools and techniques.

Artificial Intelligence 

How is AI Art created?
There are two sides to AI Art. The former represents a new frontier for the art world, while the latter represents the possibilities for artists to harness the digital tools at their disposal. 

On the one hand, artists can request the creation of specific images (with tools such as DALL-E, for example), even in the style of a particular artist, from Picasso to Frida Kahlo. 

In this case, AI-generated algorithms can produce completely original pictures—or “works of art”, as some have termed them. Pulling information from huge datasets (images of human-made artworks from artists and amateurs alike), these algorithms generate images that draw inspiration from pre-existing images.

Another approach allows artists to “feed” learning machines with information to produce work based on this. This form of human-led AI Art exploits AI tools and techniques, such as machine learning algorithms, to process and manipulate images to create new works.

Therefore, AI represents both an obstacle and an opportunity for visual artists.

Is AI Art really art?
The contemporary art gallery Bitforms definitely thinks so. Located in New York, the institution has a strong focus on digital and new media art and has been at the forefront of promoting AI art for over two decades. The gallery believes AI and technology, in general, can “alter, enhance and extend creative processes.”

Representing a roster of established and emerging artists who work with technology, they have exhibited work in exhibitions such as Artificial Imagination (2022) that explored the “validity of assisted art creation and its place in the art world”. The works on show were produced by a group of digital artists, including, Ellie Pritts, Refik Anadol and Alexander Reben, who utilised DALL-E to create entire compositions and generative pieces made with custom algorithms to contextualize AI as an art-making apparatus. 

So the established galleries, not only those that exist solely online, are exploring the possibilities of AI Art. But what kind of what are these artists making?

AI artists you should know
Some artists use AI tools to generate their art, while others work alongside AI tools to enhance or give meaning to their art practice. This can include artists who work with AI algorithms to produce computational art, as well as artists who use AI tools and techniques to augment their traditional art-making practices.

Stephanie Dinkins is one such artist who draws on the possibilities of AI to further her practice and investigations. Dinkins describes herself as a transmedia artist—a practitioner who harnesses the power of AI to produce her conceptual work.

In her project Conversations with Bina, Dinkins’ films a conversation with one of the world’s most advanced social robots to explore the feasibility of long-term relationships between people and machines. 

Other artists are more engaged with feeding and extracting information to create works. For example, David Young trained the computer with his own photographs. Snapping pictures of flowers in his garden, he fed this information, and his computer was trained to generate its own images of flowers to develop its own interpretation of the physical and natural world.

Like digital artists and video artists who’ve harnessed the possibilities of technological change, AI artists are working in a rapidly evolving field with exponentially evolving information and tools at their disposal.

Cover image: Artificial Intelligence 

Written by Kooness

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