AI is everywhere, including the art world. AI-generated art is a hot topic, making people question what art really is.   At the heart of the debate is a simple question: “is AI art art?”  There are many artist that are furious about AI art , and some key arguments against it are as follows:

  1. AI art is more the work of a machine, lacking a human touch.
  2. Anyone can create AI paintings as it does not require special skills and patience.
  3. It does not take much time and effort, hence an AI painting does not have as much value as real artwork.

What is interesting is that precisely the same or similar arguments were made about photography in the 19th century. Here is a quote from Jordan G. Teicher blog When Photography wasn’t art:

When critics weren’t wringing their hands about photography, they were deriding it. They saw photography merely as a thoughtless mechanism for replication, one that lacked, “that refined feeling and sentiment which animate the productions of a man of genius,” as one expressed in an 1855 issue of The Crayon. As long as “invention and feeling constitute essential qualities in a work of Art,” the writer argued, “Photography can never assume a higher rank than engraving.”

In this post, we’ll compare past debates on photography as art with current debates on AI art.  By doing this, we want to understand AI art and how it challenges traditional art ideas. We’ll look at what makes AI art unique, how it affects art, and what it means for the future of art. We hope to offer some insight into the ongoing conversation about what AI art is and how it fits in with the rest of art.

2. Historical Debates About Photography as Art

In the mid-19th century, photography was a new and exciting technology that challenged traditional notions of art. When photography was first introduced, it was met with skepticism and debate about whether it could be considered art.  Charles Baudelaire and Roger Fry were early critics of photography. They thought it was too objective and not creative like other art forms. Baudelaire famously wroteIt is useless and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that exists satisfies me…. I prefer the monsters of my fantasy to what is positively trivial. It is hard to know if Baudelaire would be satisfied with pictures of monsters produced by AI art generators

Over time, photographers such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and  Diane Arbus pushed the boundaries of photography. They  experimented with composition, lighting, and other elements, making images that were both artistic and expressive. They showed that photography could create beautiful and meaningful pictures.

Despite this, the debate around whether photography can be considered art continues to this day. Some people still don’t think photography is art because they say it’s not emotional like other art forms. 

In the next section, we will explore the nature of AI art and the ways in which it is challenging our understanding of what constitutes art.

3: Understanding AI Art

AI-generated art is a rapidly growing field, with new tools and techniques constantly emerging. Recent breakthroughs in deep learning and generative models have led to the creation of new and exciting AI art generators, such as DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney and few others. These generators use algorithms and machine learning to create unique and often visually stunning works of art. They can create realistic images of objects and scenes based on textual descriptions.

Generating AI art with DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney starts with a text prompt, which can be a description or a short story. The artist uses the prompt to create an image, thinking about color, composition, and lighting. They keep changing the prompt until it’s perfect. It’s not just artistic skill that’s important – engineering skill matters, too.  Eric Holloway wrote in his blog post that  AI-generated art is not really “AI art.” It is actually engineer-generated art.

When creating AI art, the artist has partial control over the final image. They can make choices regarding important aspects of the picture, such as subject and style. However, the process also involves machine learning algorithms and digital randomness. The resulting images generated from a single text prompt vary in quality and nature. Similar to photography, artistic taste plays a key role in selecting a few art forms for an exhibition from hundreds or thousands of candidate images, making it an arduous task. Searching for a beautiful artwork among images created by an art generator can be likened to finding a natural pearl in oysters. While working on our Venus collection at Beauty and AI, we generated a few thousand diverse images from a text prompt containing the words Venus, goddess of beauty and love. Out of these few thousand images, we carefully handpicked only three for our first release of Venus collection exhibition.

Making AI art with modern tools is mostly a creative and human process. The technology helps the artist make their vision real. 

4. Breaking Boundaries: Why AI Art Deserves Artistic Recognition Like Photography 

Institutional theory of art defines art as anything that is used in an exhibition or other artistic display. Photography and AI-generated art are recognized as legitimate forms of artistic expression by the art world and have been displayed in exhibitions. The value of art is not just about the process or materials used, but also about the cultural and institutional context in which it is created and displayed. So, according to the institutional theory of art, both photography and AI-generated art are forms of art. However, this observation alone may not satisfy many critics of AI art as it does not fully address the three key arguments mentioned at the beginning of the blog post. Therefore, we will address each of these arguments in the next subsections.

Does AI art lack a human touch since it’s more the work of a machine?

Although the quality of AI art depends on the quality of the Machine Learning model used to create it, this is similar to how the quality of a photograph depends on the camera used by the photographer. However, the creation of AI-generated art is not solely the work of a machine. It is a highly imaginative and human-driven process that involves human input, experimentation, and creativity, just like taking a photograph. Despite being generated using algorithms and machine learning, the artist’s creative imagination, skill, and vision ultimately drive the process, making it a human-driven process. Therefore, AI-generated art does have a human touch and is not purely the work of a machine.

Can anyone create AI paintings, or does it require special skills and patience?

Creating photography does not require the same skills as mastering the painter’s brush. To an artist of the 19th century it seemed as if anyone could create photography. For that reason in the 19th century photography was considered inferior to painting and drawing. However, photography does require a set of different skills and as photography evolved into its own form of artistic expression the art and the range skills of photographers evolve. One can argue that modern consideration of AI art as something which anyone can create is of the same nature as the early attitude of artists to photographers.

Is it really true that creating AI artwork from text prompt does not take much time and patience?

While modern AI art generators can create a painting from a text prompt in less time than it takes to create and share a digital photo on Instagram, the question is not just about the amount of time and effort it takes to create one image. Just as with photography, the success and quality of AI artwork depend on the amount of effort and personal artistic skills put into it. Professional photographers spend time carefully choosing scenes, selecting the best image from a large set, and editing the final product. Similarly, AI artists spend considerable time engineering a text prompt and may need to generate thousands of images before selecting a few good ones. The pipeline of creating AI art from text prompt is isomorphic to that of professional photographers, and the success and quality of the artwork depends on the amount of effort and artistic skills of the maker. Therefore, creating good AI artwork does require time, patience, and skill.

AI-generated art is pushing the boundaries of what we consider to be art, just like photography did when it was first introduced.  AI-generated art offers new possibilities for creating and appreciating art, and it’s redefining what we consider to be art. It’s therefore deserving of artistic recognition, just like photography. As we move forward, AI-generated art will continue to play a significant role in the evolution of art.

5. The Artistic Evolution: How Technology is Redefining What We Consider to be Art

Photography changed the art world by changing how artists made images. Before photography, painting and drawing were the most popular visual arts because they were seen as the most accurate way to show the world. However, photography allowed artists to capture images with more detail and accuracy than ever before. 

The emergence of AI-generated art presents a new challenge to traditional ideas about art and artistic expression. AI generators are capable of producing abstract art with ease and can imagine anything, making the possibilities for artistic expression seemingly endless. However, just as with photography, artists will not be satisfied with what is easy to produce. It is possible that artists may look for something more challenging to create with AI art generators, such as paintings that are both artistic and beautiful. This raises important questions about the nature of creativity and the role of technology in the creative process. Nonetheless, it is clear that AI-generated art will continue to shape the evolution of art in the future.

6. Conclusion

The debates around AI-generated art show that art is evolving in the digital age. Both photography and AI art involve creativity and experimentation, challenging traditional views on art.

According to the institutional theory of art, photography and AI art are considered legitimate forms of artistic expression. They are recognized by the art world and displayed in exhibitions. AI-generated art will continue to push the limits of what we consider to be art, breaking away from traditional ideas about originality and creativity.

These debates remind us that art is always evolving and that technology plays a vital role in this evolution. By embracing new forms of artistic expression and pushing boundaries, we can create new and innovative works of art that reflect the creativity and imagination of the human spirit.

Explore  collections of AI Art from Beauty and AI

Mary Magdalene Collection

Beauty of Venus Collection

Venus Burst Painting Collection

Venus Burst Paintings Collection

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