As one who has been making art for a lifetime (disclosure: am mid-60’s) and have been involved with computers since 80s, wrestled with many questions surrounding both art and technology. A few things I looked for in the responses to this post included (a) discussion of how computers and programs like Photoshop have been merging with human creativity for decades, blurring some lines about “what is art?” and (b) a discussion of AI or tech-produced art in the context of art history.
Starting with the latter: There was a time when photography was not considered an art form. Photography was an amazing development, but was not considered a family of the fine arts. Ansel Adams, among others, altered the playing field there. Likewise printmakers were not considered “artists” and would not be taken seriously by the fine arts gatekeepers till perhaps the middle of the last century. Ceramics was another family that had to get approval as a fine art, lest every primitive cup or bowl be considered art. But then even that has been changing, as native spoons and clothing and tools were demonstrated to have been crafted with intentionality and respect for the natural beauty of the materials. In light of all these, and others like them, I have no doubt some day people call AI-generated pictures “art.” And probably an indiscriminating public will frame this works and hang them on their walls. And why not? They will no doubt be eye-popping or calming or whatever gets dialed in.
I am neither defending or dissing this. Just predicting that it will happen. What I do feel is that there is something sacred about our humanity that is slowly being nibbled away here.
As for “what is art” there are advocates for the elephant who paints an abstract splash of colors and gets praised as an artist, which I see as silliness.
My answer here comes from having interviewed artists for over 15 years, from every continent. There is something about making art that is a human matter. Serious artists are tackling problems of space and design. Realistic expressionists are learning how to see the world, to see the way light plays off objects, the way vision works and how the soul responds to all this magic.
Tonight I will be going out to my studio to finish a couple paintings for an upcoming show. What I am working on is deeply personal, striving to touch that inner something in the human hearts of those who look at it, who engage it. Because of this, I see true art as something that machines can’t do. There is a gulf between that which is divine in us, and rocks or programmed machines or intelligent machines that actually think (probably coming).
For what it’s worth, I am not finished wrestling with all these things, so I welcome the prod to re-visit the ongoing dialogue within myself.