We typically like to pit machines and human beings against one another, as though one is not the creation of the other. On the surface, it might seem like AI art is stealing something fundamentally human from us: Our expression.
Art is human and humanity is art: Circular logic that still somehow feels true. It’s hard to pin down. Is it the process an artist goes through, the zen-like state, that makes art valuable? Or is that something different, a psychological benefit to making art, and nothing more? I have entered a zen-like state to create less-than-remarkable works. But still, we yearn for the artist’s journey.
Those who still enjoy Harry Potter but decry J.K. Rowling might disagree. It’s the end product and the enjoyment one gets out of it that matters more. Harry Potter has become something bigger than the artist herself, they claim. On the flip side, we see former fans removing their Kanye West tattoos because they can no longer listen to his work or what he’s come to represent.
If art is human expression, then AI art could also be considered a form of human expression. Humans wrote the algorithm, and fed the beast. If AI is racist, sexist, or fat phobic, and if AI seems to crank out Eurocentric beauty standards, that’s the fault of human beings. If we work on a piece of AI art by fine-tuning what we ask it to do, and we ask it to perform iteration upon iteration until we get it just how we want it, then is that not human-made art?
We don’t all have the skills of Michelangelo, and many would argue that they don’t have the time to develop such artistic skills. Could AI art be a tool to free those who want to be creative, but find all their time sucked by minimum wage jobs? We have lost many artistic visions to capitalism and poverty. This might be overly hopeful, but could AI art help set some of these trapped artists free?
When we look at our friends’ Lensa selfies, we see how they want to be perceived. They can wear jewelry they cannot normally afford. They can set themselves in different time periods. They can paint a picture of themselves that they feel better represents themselves.
In a way, the Lensa photos someone picks to post also says a lot about that person…and is a form of their self-expression.
Still, we may place a premium on work painted by a human being. We may pay more for an identical painting if we have proof a human being sat in front of it and created it…if we can see their flow, their process. We might ignore the comparable hours a developer put into creating AI art.
Is coding itself an art? We may need to answer this question soon.
Not everyone has the time to develop artistic skills like painting or sculpting…maybe that is why we value them so highly. We want to see all that dedication and devotion focused on a single piece of paper.
On TikTok and Instagram, you can already see videos of people creating their artwork from start to finish…and this marketing is effective. We do enjoy the story, the process, the selecting, the refining, the choosing, the artist’s flow and vision and intent.
Maybe, like a camera is an artist’s tool, we will come to see AI art through the same “lens.”