Some art is additive. You add paint until you achieve the desired result. And other art forms rely instead on a subtraction, on negative space: Carving wood or marble in to statues would be examples.
AI art, in my opinion, falls into the second bucket. It relies on a subtraction, and an understanding of the AI itself…much like sculpting requires knowledge of how wood or stone will react when cut.
I used Midjourney a while ago to create some pieces that I found creepy and off-putting. Maybe this is because I didn’t understand the AI…but when I think about it, most of my writing is also creepy and off-putting. I tend to be drawn to subjects that others would find uneasy. For one of my Midjourney pieces, I asked it to create the King of Spades and Queen of Hearts in an embrace. How did I not think that would end up creepy?
Maybe I’m just kind of weird no matter which medium I use, and all my AI art will be, in a strange way, an expression of me. What I tell the computer to do is in itself a kind of art, no?
Either way, there is a kind of communication happening there. The developer creates an AI, and it is fed a wide range of art (this in itself is controversial), and then a human being asks Midjourney to create something…then iterates, over and over, until the AI gets it just right.
Some of the pieces are so unique and intricate and required so many iterations that it is difficult to say human beings were not involved in their creation. After all, a human created the AI, a great number of humans fed knowledge into it (willingly or unwillingly), and another human limited the rules of the creation, over and over again.
I agree it would be better to have artists consent to their AI being used in these programs. I still think there would be enough information, enough styles, enough range available even if this were the case. I’m sure there are artists who would consent, and it is always better to ask permission or even provide compensation.
After all, these AI art programs are not free, and are being used for commercial gain.
I’m sure this is something that will be settled by folks smarter than I, but I hope it goes this route.
It seems like even if this were the case, that artists had to consent or be compensated, the art created by Midjourney has enough human hands in it to still be, more or less, a creation of human expression. You have the drive of the developer, the palette of the artists, and the vision of the user behind the screen.
Instead of a chisel and hammer, we have a keyboard…painstakingly carving out our visions in the digital marble, the collection of art in itself a representation of our collective consciousness.