Tuesday, May 9, 2023

DAI Hosts Special Event Addressing A.I. and Art

AI collaboration with the author.
Last night the Duluth Art Institute hosted a panel discussion with the working title AI Art: A Human Discussion. The 90 minute panel discussion, moderated by DAI director Christina Woods, took place via Zoom and featured five guests from various arts-related backgrounds. Rick Kollath is an illustrator who makes pictures the old fashioned way. Kathy McTavish is a transmedia artist who has worked extensively in coding and the creative application of technology. Ben Moren is a Twin Cities multi-media instructor, Jonathan Thunder a fine artist, and Alexis Elder a philosophy associate professor who has a background in tech ethics and fostering creativity. 

The discussion touched on many relevant themes. One recurring theme was "Where is this headed?"

Will children learn to draw by telling their phones to make pictures? Will pro illustrators be a thing of the past because AI can make fast, cheap pictures? How will copyright laws change? What are ethical and unethical applications of AI art? 

Kathy McTavish stated, "This moment is pivotal." ChatGPT, a "Large Language Model", has brought AI research to a far wider public than in years past where AI was more or less something the geek world thought about deeply. Right now, schools everywhere are grappling with how to use AI and ChatGPT.

Some of the discussion revolved around what is lacking or missing in AI generated art. "A painting is hand-made. As art it has a value," one panelist said. "Artists' processes are important." 

Is the amount of time it takes to make something (or clean up afterwards) what gives it value?

A Post-Modern Man. (AI collaboration)
Ben Moren is currently training an AI model. In his view three considerations are important features of art. (1) Intention  (2) Process  (3) Observation. He went on to compare art to collage. 

Jon Thunder said he pays his bills with his art. He noted that there are different categories of businesses and individuals buying art. People who buy clip art for their ads are not the clients someone like Thunder relies on. 

Rick Kollath then asserted that "AI cannot compare to hand made art."

"The human spirit, that's where it's at," Thunder replied.

Kollath pointed out that photography changed art and "AI will change art in ways we cannot yet imagine."

Kathy McTavish drew attention to the exorbitant costs involved in running the machines that enable us to create a picture AI. "I don't want to participate."

There were occasional statements that could have been elaborated on. One of these was "AI as function of a Colonizer." And "does AI create Accessibility?"Or to put it a different way, "Who gets access."

The relationship between technology and our environment was mentioned as well as the relationship between technology and mind formation. "Are we outsourcing our thinking and being exploited?"

AI is not the first insertion of technology into life. Many of us who were around in the Sixties remember mimeograph machines that enabled us to mass produce a newsletter. The capabilities of Photoshop emerged with the advent of personal computers. 

Before it goes too far, should we dismantle AI? One person asked if maybe it's time to dismantle Capitalism.

Hmmm. Now that's a whole different question.

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Illustrations on this page were AI collaborations with Dream by Wombo using original paintings by the author as a starting point.

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