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Is AI Killing Art?

Lauren Sellman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Jason M Allen’s AI-generated artwork that received first place at the Colorado State Fair Competition. Photo// The New York Times

While AI’s impact on art is undeniable, it has also ignited a fiery debate within the artistic community, raising questions about the nature of creativity, authorship, and the future of human artists.

AI art generation programs such as Dall-E, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and Deep Dream Generator allow anyone to produce any type of realistic or abstract art imaginable with a single prompt.

Artificial intelligence has emerged as a powerful tool that can mimic the creative processes of artists. In recent years, AI-generated art has been praised for its ability to generate intriguing and unique work. These programs use algorithms that analyze vast databases of photos and artworks, such as LAION-5B, to adapt to various styles and create original pieces.

This intelligence can produce work in seconds, that artists may spend weeks, months, or even years on and it has become a cheap and accessible alternative to paying human artists.

Some artists proudly use AI tools for inspiration or reference, considering it to be a “partnership." This ability to collaborate with human artists, aiding them in their creative processes, expands the digital art world into a new realm of possibilities.

Some artists benefiting from the use of AI feel that there is no harm done as long as the artwork is labeled as being produced by AI.

While the AI art scene is flourishing, it’s not without controversy. Critics argue that AI-produced art raises several questions that challenge artistic norms, such as if AI is even capable of true individualism, creativity or authorship.

AI learns from and reproduces art based on existing artists' work, taking styles and techniques from past art without recognition of the original artist. Illustrator ​​Anoosha Syed says, “AI doesn’t look at art and create its own. It samples everyone’s then mashes it into something else.”

Conflicting opinions on AI authorship create valid questions: Can a machine truly be considered an artist? Is creativity merely an outcome of algorithms, or does it require the essence of human emotions and experiences?

The art world’s increasing fascination with AI-generated art has resulted in the sale of multiple art pieces for significant prices. One AI-created piece titled, “Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy” sold to an anonymous phone bidder for $432,500. This has led to debates about whether AI art be sold for profit and whether the value attributed to it is justified.

Some artists are concerned that the rise of AI-generated art may devalue their own work. They fear that the rise of machine-generated art will overshadow the cultural significance of human creativity.

Children’s author and illustrator Rob Biddulph, says that AI-generated art, “is the exact opposite of what I believe art to be… true art is about the creative process much more than it’s about the final piece. And simply pressing a button to generate an image is not a creative process.”

As AI continues to make waves in the art world, it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. Artists, curators, collectors, and critics are exploring the boundaries of what AI can bring to the table, and expanding from traditional methods.

Many in the art world believe that the future holds a collaborative relationship between human and AI creativity. By working together, artists and AI can generate previously unattainable artistic visions.

After winning the Colorado State Fair Competition with AI-generated art, Jason M Allen comments to the New York Times, saying, “Art is dead, Dude.”

Is this technology a revolutionary step for the art world? Or has AI killed traditional art?

Either way, the controversy surrounding AI in art will undoubtedly persist, evolving as the technology itself advances. But one thing is certain: AI’s role in the art world has opened up new avenues for creativity, and redefined what it means to be an artist in the digital age.

As AI’s impact on art continues to shape the artistic landscape, and the art world must navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by this transformative technology.

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