Art Credit: Ruth Ada Ayambem
In the age of AI (artificial intelligence), where we can write entire papers, create fake headshots of ourselves, and even create covers of songs sung by different celebrities, there is a wide debate about the role AI should play in artwork and how artists should be employing this type of technology.
I sat down with third-year Film, Photography, and Visual Arts student Thomas Gledhill to talk about some of the implications of using AI in artwork and what it means for the future of the art and media world.
“I get it, it’s a new thing, it’s scary, this is gonna destroy all other art forms – but it won’t, it’ll just be another thing that’s unique in its own way,” Gledhill said. “There’s already so much art that people question as it is that isn’t even related to AI. It’s thought-provoking, that’s the point of art.”
As part of Professor Michael Lewis’s Intermediate Photography class, Gledhill completed a project in which he heavily employed Adobe Photoshop’s new AI element, Generative Fill, allowing users to use the ‘lasso tool’ to create a shape and fill it in using AI prompts.
For his project, Gledhill Photoshopped himself waiting in line to get a blowjob from himself. Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t the part of the project where Gledhill employed AI – it was actually to change the background of the photo from a parking garage to a gas station.
He talked to me about why he’s interested in the use of AI in art.
“It’s there and we’re gonna have to learn to use it anyway, so why not now?” Gledhill said. “In terms of whether AI should have a role in the art world, I say it already has one. People are just resisting.”
One of the main reasons that critics are opposed to using AI in artwork is because it allegedly steals from artists. Beautiful Bizarre Magazine declared that they would not be supporting AI art because “AI Art takes jobs from human artists, designers, illustrators, and uses their work without their consent or compensation to create what it calls ‘new work.’ It also devalues the years of practice, unique vision, skill and experience that human artists work hard for.”
Many artists have expressed agreement with the latter statement from BBM. One anonymous art student at IC told me, “Why spend so much time making art when apparently, AI can replicate it or use it for something else within seconds? What’s the point?”
Gledhill responded to this argument; “Art is a cycle. All art exists because of other art, everyone’s using something else they’ve seen before in their art.”
That’s what other proponents of AI usage argue as well.
According to globe.com, currently, AI art generators use one of three AI softwares: “the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), and the Neural Style Transfer (NST).” GAN has two main components, a generator and a discriminator. The generator works to create original art, while the discriminator searches through already existing images to determine if the software’s creation is actually original. CNN uses patterns from already-existing artwork to produce new images. NST follows the art style of a specific piece of art and replicates it onto a new image.
While Gledhill doesn’t agree that there is a problem with these softwares, he did start to take issue with the intersection of AI and news media.
“I haven’t really seen a crossover of AI into the [documentary] or video world yet, but 100% there’s a chance it’ll happen soon,” Gledhill said. “It’s definitely a little scary to think about news photos being photoshopped. Like it could be a regular photo of people at an event, and you could just edit weapons onto their hands and call them terrorists.”
He went on to say, “I think AI definitely deserves a spot in the art and media world. I guess it’s just up to us to figure out how to do that in the right way and put up the right regulations.”
President Biden recently signed an executive order regarding AI. The order requires AI companies and developers to share their safety test results and other developments in their software before public release to ensure that the AI is safe for the public to use while still making a profit for AI companies.
While these protections are being put in place on national and global levels, it’s also up to us as artists to understand our own boundaries with the crossover of technology and traditional art. AI is no longer avoidable — as we can see here, students are already being assigned to use it in their art. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves and our peers safe, making sure AI is mostly being used to enhance our creativity, not endanger it.
Alefiya Presswala is a sophomore journalism major who may or may not get their hands on some AI art. They can be reached at [email protected]