The rise of AI art: What is it, and is it really art?

AI art is an emerging field that is transforming the way we think about creativity and art-making. But is it really art?
Christopher McFadden
Is AI-generated art really art?

DALL·E 2/OpenAI  

  • Artificial intelligence has been used for years to create artwork ranging from paintings and drawings to music and even poetry.
  • Built by training algorithms on large datasets of existing artwork and then using those algorithms to generate new pieces, AI-generated art can create some fascinating images.
  • But AI-generated art has sparked discussions about the nature of creativity and the artist's role.

Whether you believe AI-generated art is, indeed, art or not, the genre is with us and will continue to be for some time to come. But if you have no idea what it is or want to know more, we'll explore this exciting new horizon in artistic expression.

How do AI art generators work?

AI art generators use machine learning algorithms and deep neural networks to generate art. Large sets of already-made art are used to teach these algorithms how to find patterns and styles that can be used to make new art.

The rise of AI art: What is it, and is it really art?
What is AI art?

The process of generating AI art typically involves the following steps:

  • Dataset Selection: The first step in creating an AI art generator is selecting a dataset of existing artwork that the machine learning algorithm can use to learn the style and patterns of the art.
  • Training: Once the dataset is selected, the machine learning algorithm is trained on the images in the dataset. This involves feeding the images through a neural network, which learns the features and patterns common to the dataset's art.
  • Generation: After the machine learning algorithm has been trained, it can be used to generate new art. This involves inputting a random seed or a desired input and letting the algorithm create an output based on the patterns and features it has learned from the training data.
  • Refinement: The generated artwork is often refined using additional algorithms and techniques, such as style transfer or image filtering, to create a final image that is more aesthetically pleasing.

AI art generators can use different algorithms and methods depending on what the artist wants to make and how they want it to look. Some popular AI art generators include DeepDream, StyleGAN, and CycleGAN.

How can you create art using AI?

If you want to create your artwork using AI, how you do this will depend on your needs.

The rise of AI art: What is it, and is it really art?
AI art is causing a big stir in the art world.

At present, the most common ways include, but are not limited to:

  • Use an AI art generator: One of the simplest ways to create art using AI is to use an existing AI art generator. These generators use machine learning algorithms and deep neural networks to generate new artwork based on a given input, such as a text description or an image.
  • Modify existing art using AI: Another approach to creating art using AI is to modify existing artwork using AI tools. For example, you could use a style transfer algorithm to transfer the style of one image onto another or use an image filtering algorithm to create a new version of an existing image.
  • Collaborate with an AI: You can also create art by collaborating with an AI system. This can involve using an AI system to generate a set of possible designs or elements and then selecting the ones you find most interesting to incorporate into your artwork.
  • Use AI to assist with the creation process: AI can also help with various aspects of the creative process, such as generating color palettes, suggesting compositions, or even creating rough sketches based on a set of parameters.

In general, making art with AI is an iterative and experimental process that involves exploring the capabilities of different AI tools and techniques and incorporating them into your creative process.

It takes technical skill, an artistic eye, and a willingness to try new things and take risks as an artist.

Can you create your own AI art generator?

It is most certainly possible to create your own AI art generator. But making an AI art generator can be challenging. You must know much about machine learning, programming, and image processing.

To make an AI art generator, you need to go through a series of steps that usually include the following:

  • Define the scope of your project: Decide what kind of art generator you want to create, the type of images you want it to generate, and the tools you will need to build it.
  • Collect and preprocess data: Gather a dataset of images that will be used to train your AI art generator. You may need to preprocess these images to ensure they are consistent in size, color, and format.
  • Train your model: Use a deep learning framework, such as TensorFlow or PyTorch, to train a model that can generate new images. You must define your model's architecture and introduce it to your dataset.
  • Generate images: Use your trained model to generate new ideas. You may need to experiment with different input parameters to create a range of other images.
  • Refine your images: Use post-processing techniques to refine your generated pictures and create an aesthetically pleasing final product.

While it is possible to create your own AI art generator, it can be a challenging task. A solid background in machine learning or working with a team with experience in this field may be helpful.

What is the purpose of AI art?

The purpose of AI art can be multifaceted and varies depending on the context in which it is created.

For example, AI art is often created to explore the creative potential of machine learning and deep neural networks. By pushing the limits of AI-generated art, artists, and researchers can help us learn more about what these systems can do and develop new ideas.

AI art can also be seen as a way of creating new forms of artistic expression that are impossible with traditional techniques. AI systems that can make complex, highly detailed images or unexpected combinations of elements can lead to new kinds of visual art that make us rethink what is possible.

AI art can also be used to critique or comment on the role of technology in society. AI artists can ask important questions about the relationship between technology and people by looking at how AI can improve and replace human creativity.

Finally, AI art can be seen as a way of giving people a new way of experiencing art. AI art can provide us with a unique and interesting way to interact with the world around us. This can be done through interactive installations, generative pieces that change over time, or immersive experiences that blur the line between art and technology.

Is AI-generated artwork art?

Whether art made by AI is "art" is still being discussed, and the answer depends on how each person defines "art." Also, without getting too off-topic, the word "art" is very subjective.

Take the modern art (and architecture) style "De Stijl" (or "The Style" in Dutch). The production of abstract paintings using basic visual elements such as bold primary colors, geometric shapes, and intersecting plane surfaces characterizes this style. The movement focused on an abstract, pared-down aesthetic. Do you consider this art?

What about painting miniature airplanes or wargame soldiers? Is that art?

When it comes to AI art, many people say that art is inherently human and that true art must involve human creativity, intention, and expression. From this point of view, AI-generated art might seem to lack the human element that gives art its meaning and value.

On the other hand, others argue that the use of AI in art represents a new form of artistic expression that is valid in its own right. They say AI-generated artwork can be beautiful, thought-provoking, and meaningful, reflecting these new technologies' unique capabilities and limitations.

The rise of AI art: What is it, and is it really art?
Do you think AI-generated art is actually art?

Ultimately, whether AI-generated artwork is "art" may be less important than its impact on the art world and society. Whether or not you think it's "art," AI-generated art raises essential questions about creativity, how humans and machines interact, and how technology shapes our culture and society. After all, art has always reflected, in some way, the society it is created in.

AI-generated art is still very much in its infancy, so we are yet to see its impact, if any, on the art world.

Is AI art copyrighted? Who owns it?

Do you want to open that "can of worms?" Yes? Sadly, this is not a simple question to answer.

The question of who owns the copyright for AI-generated art is a complex legal issue that does not have a clear answer. It may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the artwork's creation.

In general, copyright laws are meant to protect original works of art that are written or drawn on a physical medium. In the case of art made by AI, the question of who owns it may depend on how much humans were involved in the process.

If an AI system makes all of the art on its own, with no or little help from humans, it's not clear who would own the copyright. Some people say that the copyright should belong to the person or company that made the AI system, like the programmer or company that developed the AI system. Some people say that the AI system itself could be considered the creator and owner of the copyright, just like an artist would own the copyright to their work.

If, however, a human is involved in the creative process in a big way, like when a human artist gives input to or guides an AI system, it could be a bit murkier. In that case, the copyright may be owned by the artist who contributed to the creation of the artwork. The AI generator, in this case, could just be considered a tool.

Ultimately, as technology changes, copyright ownership for art made by AI is likely to be a subject of ongoing legal debate. New legal frameworks are being developed to address these new forms of creative expression.

And that's your lot for today.

AI art is a rapidly evolving field, stretching the definition of "art." While some people are skeptical of machines creating art, it is clear that AI-generated works have already had a significant impact on the art world. They've been displayed in museums and galleries and sold for large sums at auction.

But whether or not it is art is still very much up for discussion.

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