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5 Ways AI is Changing Art

KEY TAKEAWAYS

AI is impacting the art industry in many ways -- namely by making creation accessible to anyone, influencing the art market and collaborating with humans to improve the quality of output.

In a world where technology is rapidly advancing, AI is now transforming the way art is created. From creating more realistic images and paintings, to helping artists find new and better ways to express themselves, AI is revolutionizing the art world.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been creating its niche in art and it has cast its influence in many ways.

For one, art has, until very recently, been the sole domain of human beings; but algorithms now have the capacity to create it, too — which represents a fundamental shift in how we view art. Art is often perceived as a reflection of extremely talented people’s skills and thoughts — as though it’s beyond the capabilities of the people who don’t have such gifts. But with AI, anyone can generate a piece of art — for example, an ornate background pattern — with a few clicks of the mouse.

AI’s capability to generate art also has implications for the art market. AI-generated art is being sold — like physical paintings in exhibitions and in the crypto market as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — and that’s a lucrative business now. (Also read: Art Museums and Blockchain: What’s the Connection?)

Finally, as AI art evolves rapidly, the difference between man-made and machine-made art is debated. Is it appropriate to claim you are the creator of a piece of art on which AI was a collaborator? Is man-made art more “pure” or “meaningful” than art created by a machine?

In this article, we’ll analyze each of the aforementioned influences AI has had on art and try to find out where the traditional ways of creating art stand.

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Here are five ways AI is impacting art:

1. Anyone Can Create Art

Text-to-image art generators like starryai allow anyone to input text to generate an image of anything they like. An algorithm generates a picture based on the prompt provided.

Crucially, the creator in this scenario doesn’t have to be an artist or painter. It takes mere seconds for a generative AI app to create original, unique images. Plus, the picture looks of decent quality and the website can generate, at random, many more images depending on your inputs.

It’s this kind of influence that AI has been casting. Anyone can be an artist now. Art is available on demand now. Anytime and anywhere.

2. AI Art Can Self-Improve

Generative art is art generated by software based on a keyword or set of keywords provided by a human being.

Just like a human artist improves skills toward perfection over a long period of time, the concept of generative art is based on training machine learning algorithms that take millions of image data over time using a technology called General Adversarial Networks (GAN). Then, such tools can generate art that was never created before.

How does generative art work? A human artist enters sentences or keywords, for example, “watching the sunset over the mountains,” and the intelligent model uses algorithms to analyze millions of art images or visuals to produce a unique image of the sunset over the mountains.

There are many generative art tools available, and the difficulty levels of using them range from beginner to advanced. Some prominent tools are Processing, openFrameworks, Cinder and Unity.

3. Generative Art is Generating High Sales

Just like human artists’ artworks are exhibited and sold at physical exhibitions, generative art is being sold at virtual marketplaces. The currency for these exchanges is typically non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the amount for which they sell has been mind-boggling. In 2021, the generative art NFT market collected $2.57 million; while, in 2020, the figure was $20 billion. (Also read: NFT Explained: How to Make, Buy and Sell Non-Fungible Tokens.)

It’s clear generative art is serious stuff.

4. People Are Debating the Difference Between Human- and AI-Generated Art

The details, finesse, colors, tone, shapes, and other elements in AI-generated art nowadays highlight how rapidly this art form is evolving. When compared with art created by human artists, it’s clear that the line between the two art sources is getting blurred.

Of course, a large section of human artists contends that AI-generated art lacks expression, emotions, and details  —  and they’ve good reasons to say so  —  but it can’t be denied that AI-generated art has been making rapid strides and competing with human art.

It’s difficult to judge whether AI art equals or surpasses human art. It’s not black or white. But human beings have always viewed the capability and potential of machines with suspicion.

5. Collaboration Between AI and Human

While the qualitative differences between AI and human art are intensely debated, collaborative initiatives have produced excellent output.

One study, for example, compared the differences between Haiku poetry generated by AI and human poets. The study involved 385 participants. It found that the best quality was achieved when the AI and the human poets collaborated — while, individually, the subjective quality was viewed the same.

Also, AI art has been a useful tool in many areas. Take, for instance, a writer who has written a book. Before publishing, the writer needs to design a nice book cover and some images for the book. It might not always be feasible for this person to look for an artist or a designer. In such cases, AI art can be an incredibly useful tool. (Also read: When Will AI Replace Writers?)

Conclusion

Clearly, AI has made rapid advances in the field of art, to the extent of almost equaling human art in many ways. Understandably, that gives rise to the question: Will human art be replaced?

That seems unlikely — because human emotions, feelings and thoughts are unique and intangible things that computers can’t replicate.

Instead, we can look forward to increased collaboration between humans and AI to produce high-quality and complex art in various forms.

Art created electronically by a novice using AI can be up and running, producing art rapidly, using a keyboard and their skill with words. It can take just a few weeks or months to perfect the form with mixed, sometimes staggering results.

Compare this with traditional artists utilizing pencils, paints, canvas and other media, perfecting their craft, attending art school or even seeking out a mentor. They do so over many, many years, learning new techniques and processes to do with color, texture and light.

It’s clear that there’s a market for each, and whether it’s for money or for pleasure is for the individual to decide.

The art is in the prompt, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

It’s evident that AI art is here to stay — but will it take over? Only time will tell!

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Kaushik Pal
Technology writer

Kaushik is a technical architect and software consultant with over 23 years of experience in software analysis, development, architecture, design, testing and training. He has an interest in new technologies and areas of innovation. He focuses on web architecture, web technologies, Java/J2EE, open source software, WebRTC, big data and semantic technologies. He has demonstrated expertise in requirements analysis, architectural design and implementation, technical use cases and software development. His experience has covered various industries such as insurance, banking, airlines, shipping, document management and product development, etc. He has worked on a wide range of technologies ranging from large scale (IBM…