Is Ai-art Art? Can it be Art?

Is Ai-art Art? Can it be Art?

Simple answer is: Not every generated image is art, but some absolutely can be.

for example absolutely qualifies as art.

This is because the idea is art. And execution is how you make it available to other people. In combination they are then analyzed if it’s good or bad art.
In other definitions “the expression or application of human creative skill” the skill is in the use of the Ai tool.

Art History

This definition can be verified from art history. From the movements like Dadaism and postmodernism. Works like Duchamps Fountain, After Walker Evans, and even Comedian (by Maurizio Cattelan) all share aspects to the conclusion of idea being the art part. These pieces are widely regarded as art. (In December 2004, Duchamp’s Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British art world professionals). So by these standards its easy to deduce that the idea is the soul of the art piece. I don’t see any point why an Ai generated image could not be art as well, if the idea itself can be considered art.

Dadaism incorporates randomness and the piece not being 100% planned down to the tiniest detail (as well as many other art pieces that took their final shape during creation). So utilizing a tool like Ai generator that you don’t know for sure what it spits out, but is based on your core idea. Is completely okay according to historical art movements and the processes of art creation in general.

Duchamps Fountain and other ready mades are all about the idea of the piece. People were not interested in who created the items. They were interested in who presented them, and in what light. Comedian on the other hand gets remade by staff over and over again when the banana goes bad and the tape loses it’s stickyness. Yet Maurizio is still the artist and the creator of the current Comedian, not the staff memebers because it’s the idea that matters. After Walker Evans is just pure self-pretentious theft imo. It’s the peak ridiculousness of postmodernism, but the art world has seen it as art solely based on the ideas behind the work, so there is that end of discussion.

Comissioning art

Now some people like to compare generating image to comissioning an image from another artist. This is tempting but misleading.
Ai image generators are not sentient beings that insert their own visions on top of your idea. Ai image generators simply output a fixed image based on your input and your input alone. The perceived randomness comes from the seed, but with a fixed seed you can use in many generators, you can output an exact copy with the same prompt. So the prompter is the only sentient being affecting the outcome.

Ai as a tool

You can think Ai image generator just like a camera, but instead of taking your camera to the place you want to take a photo of, you bring the place to your camera. Either with words or with and image or other data files. Just like a camera takes in wavelenghts of light and turns them into an image in film or 1 and 0’s in an sd-card. An Ai generator intakes words or other files and turns them into 1 and 0’s.
Now Ai image generators cannot output things it lacks in it’s training data. This is just like a camera cannot capture wavelengths of light that its sensor is not manufactured to capture. This is just a limitation on the tool and something the person using it has to take into account when trying to execute their idea into the real world.

Ai and ethics

From that we come to the ethics of Ai image generators.
The training process and output itself simply are not stealing. The whole point of Ai image generation is to abstract the contents of the dataset by learning the shapes and their form. The training process is like a human learning from examples, that is not stealing. This way you can output shapes and styles without having to create copies of existing works. Even if the images are influenced by the images in the training data they still are new pieces. If they aren’t the Ai generator has failed its purpose just like a human has if their art is a rip-off of someone else’s work.

Now the actual problem comes from how the images are brought into the training dataset. In many cases these images are outright stolen without payment to the creators. Using the images in training requires physical access to the images thus them needing to be downloaded. This is usually done by simply scraping the images without payment and by law this is theft.

Then we have the “ethical” datasets where the images are selected to actually be either free domain or licensed. Now many of these like ShutterStock Ai and Adobe Ai who claim are trained with ethical datasets, still have practised ethically questionable behavior in the licensing part. Usually these “licensings” are done by offering another service, for what people might even pay the companies for, and there having a pre-selected opt-in clause for your images to be used in training. This pre-selected “yes” is not ethically sourced. Sometimes these clauses are added to your account after you have uploaded them meaning unless you check your options everyday they might have already used your images in traingin without you actually consenting to it.

Why artists don’t want their works opted in?

Imagine you have used years of your life in order to study for your job and R&D. Now without compensation to you someone can use all your aquired knowledge and skills to flood the market with adapted works of your product, and drive your marketshare to the ground. Furthermore, the problem is that now your niche is flooded by mediocre imitations of your work. This means innovation will be hard as it’ll easily drown in the noise. A lot of the genenated images will not be art. They’ll either be content or products that’ll hog up people’s attention away from actual art and screw with the algorythm of many of the media platforms artists use.
The problem is that the people who are the main reason the development of these tools were possible, are not compansated accordingly, but are instead being taken advantage of and losing visibility at the same time.

This is the indrustrial revolution for the non-realism art world just like the camera was for the portrait painters. A lot of people will go out of business.


In conclusion.

Art is in the idea and execution is how you make it available to others. Executing your idea with Ai does not disqualify the idea itself from being art. Ai generated images might not qualify as ethical art, or in many cases as good art due to their limitations, but that does not mean they cannot be art.
If you do Ai art, well firstly be sure it’s actual art and not just content.
Secondly try to use the most ethical generator that you can find. At the moment Shutterstock Ai does compensate the artists whose works were used on the dataset. Even if they might have been misleadingly entered there.
Thirdly respect those people who will lose their income, and whose life works are being used to replace them without them getting anything from it. There is no need to be salty against them. They are the reason these tools exist and imo should deserve a part of the cake.


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