Is AI art really art? This California gallery says yes

CNN Business

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more popular for generating images, a the question has clouded The Art World: Can AI Create Art?

At bitforms gallery in San Francisco, the answer is yes. An exhibit called “Artificial Imagination” will be on view through the end of December and features works that were created with or inspired by the DALL-E generative AI system, as well as other types of AI. With DALL-E, and other similar systems such as Stable Diffusion or Midjourneya user can type words and retrieve an image.

Digital image 2022 by August Kamp

Steven Sacks, who founded the original bitforms gallery in New York in 2001 (the San Francisco location opened in 2020), has always focused on working with artists at the intersection of art and technology. But this may be the first art show to focus on DALL-E, which was created by OpenAI, and it’s the first that Sacks has presented that focuses so directly on work created with AI, he told CNN Business.

The use of technologies such as 3D printing and Photoshop is commonplace in art. But new text-to-image systems like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney can produce stunning-looking images at lightning speeds unlike anything the art world has ever seen before. In just a few months, millions of people have flocked to these AI systems and they are already being used to create experimental films, magazine covers and images to illustrate news stories. However, while these systems are gaining ground, they are also generating controversy. For example, when an image generated with Midjourney recently won an art contest at the Colorado State Fair, it caused a stir among artists.

For Sacks, generative AI systems like DALL-E are “just another tool,” he said, noting that throughout history, artists have used previous work to create new work in a variety of ways.

“He’s a brilliant partner from a creative standpoint,” he said.

“Artificial Imagination” spans many different mediums and styles, and includes artists known for using technology in their work, such as Refik Anadol, and others who are newer to this. It ranges from Anadol’s 30-minute video loop of a computer shot of an ever-changing nature scene to Marina Zurkow’s brilliant image collages, created with the help of DALL-E, almost reminiscent of the Soviet propaganda mixed with old storybooks.

sacks said The exhibit, which is being presented by bitforms and venture capital firm Day One Ventures, is in many ways an educational show about the state of DALL-E and how artists are using AI.

Marina Zurkow used DALL-E to help create her 2022 piece

Many pieces are more AI-friendly, and DALL-E in particular, like August Kamp’s 2022 print “experimental, state-of-the-art remake” that looks like a close-up of a retro-futuristic stereo on a ship. space. Kamp said he began creating it by writing what she calls a primer, a series of words like “grainy,” “detailed,” “cinematic,” “film still,” with the intention of to evoke the aesthetic he would like, which in this case was intended to look like he was watching a movie and had paused it, he said. She then added words in hopes of generating electronic synths that “look as weird as they sound,” she said.

The final piece is a combination of about 30 different generated images, which were painted section by section: A process that uses AI to expand the image by adding more elements to it. Kamp also used Photoshop to modify the overall image.

Kamp noted that the general idea of ​​art galleries makes it seem like good art is scarce, but he sees generative AI tools like DALL-E as a way to get people to believe that art can be abundant (for example). example, making it so that anyone can wake up from a vivid dream, write a description of what they were imagining, and generate an image that expresses their thoughts).

“For me art is and should be very abundant because I see it as an expression of love and feelings, which I think are abundant things,” he said.

Alexander Reben, This is not a barrier, 2020.

Some of the pieces on display use AI in a more indirect (and perhaps silly) way, like a 2020 sculpture by Alejandro Reben called “Cesi N’est Pas Une Barriere”. Reben used AI as a sort of art director: he used the GPT-3 text generator and a custom set of algorithms to generate a description of a non-existent piece of art hanging on the bitform gallery wall. It includes the title, the name of a fictional artist, Norifen Storgenberg, listed as “Swedish, born 1973”, and text such as “It has a very domestic atmosphere and yet is very oppressive” and “The use of police it’s a problem”. the handcuffs is striking. In the context of society, they are used to restrain prisoners, yet here they are used to create a barrier between the viewer and the work.”

Reben built his sculpture, which also hangs on the wall, around the description, with elements including green tiles, a porch light, metal grab bars and handcuffs.

“I wanted to just put it out there: there are a variety of artists here, there are really different ways here to present this type of work, to live with this type of work, to connect with this type of work,” Sacks said. “I wanted people to ask questions about it.”

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