Is AI art really art? This California gallery says yes

CNN Business

As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly popular for generating images, a The question has rocked the art world: Can AI create art?

At bitforms gallery in San Francisco, the answer is yes. An exhibit called “Artificial Imagination” is on display until the end of December and features works created or inspired by the DALL-E generative AI system, as well as other types of AI. With DALL-E and other similar systems like Stable Diffusion or Midjourney, a user can type words and retrieve an image.

2022 digital image 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 is 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 common in art. But new text-to-image systems like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney can produce stunning images at lightning speed, unlike anything the art world has seen before. Within 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 causing controversy. For example, when an image generated with Midjourney recently won an art contest at the Colorado State Fair, it caused quite an uproar among artists.

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

“He’s a creatively brilliant partner,” she said.

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

Sacks said the exhibition, 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 simpler in their use of AI, and DALL-E in particular, such as August Kamp’s 2022 print “experimental new version, state of the art”, which looks like a close-up of a retro-futuristic stereo in a spaceship space Kamp said she began creating it by writing what she calls a primer, a series of words like “grainy,” “detailed,” “cinematic,” “film frame” — intended to evoke the aesthetic he would like, which in this case was meant to look like he was watching a movie and had just stopped, he said. He then added words in hopes of generating electronic synths that “looked as weird as they sound,” he said.

The final piece is a combination of approximately 30 different generated images, which have been painted section by section, a process that uses AI to expand the image by adding more elements. Kamp also used Photoshop to adjust the overall image.

Kamp noted that the general idea of ​​art galleries gives the impression that good art is scarce, but he sees generative AI tools like DALL-E as a way to make people consider that art can be abundant (e.g. , turn it into anyone). they 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, Ceci N'est Pas Une Barriere, 2020.

Some of the pieces on display use AI in a more indirect (and perhaps silly) way, such as a 2020 sculpture by Alexander Reben called “Cesi N’est Pas Une Barriere.” Reben used AI as an art director of sorts: he used the GPT-3 text generator and a custom set of algorithms to generate a description of a non-existent artwork that hangs on the bitforms gallery wall. It includes the title, the name of a fictitious artist—Norifen Storgenberg, listed as “Swedish, born 1973″—and text such as “It has a very domestic feel, and yet it’s very oppressive” and “The use of the police question.” wives is striking. In the context of society, they are used to contain prisoners and, nevertheless, 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 roof tiles, a porch light, metal grab bars and handcuffs.

“I wanted to just put it out there: There’s a variety of artists here, there’s really different ways of presenting this kind of work, living with this kind of work, connecting with this kind of work,” Sacks said. “I wanted people to ask questions about it.”


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