I hereby present a unique art concept that engagingly explores the influence of artificial intelligence on the world of art. In addition to recognizing the impact of technology on the art world, the 'A and I' collection is primarily a celebration of human creativity.
This collection of 18 handcrafted sculptures is the result of a bold experiment in which original creations are juxtaposed with new variants generated by artificial intelligence. The visitor is invited to guess which works were created by the artist and which by AI. Experiencing the intimate coexistence of human and AI-generated artworks is both inspiring ànd challenging, as in a world where human imagination and the power of technology converge, both advantages and disadvantages emerge, along with accompanying emotions.
But once the dust settles, you'll see that artists interested in this field, are discovering the boundless potential of AI as a powerful and innovative tool to expand their creative horizons. Artificial intelligence enables artists to experiment with new techniques, styles, and ideas, providing access to vast datasets and algorithms that were traditionally beyond the reach of the artist. This technological symbiosis has the potential to give rise to entirely new art forms or hybrids.
This interaction promises an engaging journey into the future of art, where human imagination is enriched by the possibilities of machines.
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SOME OF THE QUESTIONS I ASKED MYSELF
Why this 'A and I' collection?
When I first encountered AI in January of this year, I was struck by the dual feeling of the fantastic possibilities on a micro-level versus the existential dangers on a macro-level. I saw it as a beast stronger than me, one that wouldn't go away. And the moment I tried to push that uncomfortable feeling aside, it only grew larger. So, on that same day, I decided to just leap onto that beast and ride it, in order to gain control over my fear. Curious and with an open mind, I started exploring what AI could specifically mean for art and for my position as an artist. At the same time, I was also very curious about the effect of my collection on the emotions and objective minds of others.
How was the collection created?
I delved into the generative AI software program DALL-E, developed by OpenAI. This program is trained to generate images based on text descriptions and/or photo’s. (The name DALL·E is a fusion of 'WALL-E,' the robot from the Pixar film, and 'Dalí,' the Spanish surrealist artist.)
For each original work, I input a photo, and the AI program generated four variations each time. It often took multiple perspectives and hundreds of attempts before I found an image that could pass as a 'Maartje Bos.' AI generates only one view (sometimes just a skewed view), so I always had to interpret the image in a correct and three-dimensional way before transferring it to a piece of aerated concrete that I could work on with traditional sculpting techniques as an original. I then made a silicone mold with a support cap of plaster and fiberglass, from which I made a cast with environmentally friendly acrylic resin that I colored with pigments. I always poured this AI version simultaneously with a new version of the original to create a 'set' with exactly the same color, as otherwise, it would not be possible. Then came the finishing process of filing and sanding until the silhouette and light refraction were perfect from every angle.
Is art threatened?
I do not see AI as a threat to art but rather as a complement. It is a tool, a source of inspiration, and a way to explore new forms of art. The true power lies in the artist's ability to use AI as a tool to realize their vision, not as a replacement for their creative expression.
So, art is still very much alive in this new era. It transforms and evolves with time, embracing the possibilities that technology offers. We find ourselves more than ever at a crossroads where artists are challenged to think about what is real and authentic, and what is meaningful and necessary in a world defined by algorithms. I absolutely believe in human inventiveness and flexibility. But without friction, there is no development. For example, there was also much debate about photography as an art form in the past, both in analogue and digital forms. Recently, the German photographer Boris Eldagsen won a prestigious award with a photo purely generated by AI. Although he refused to accept the award because he had not mentioned that it was AI-generated.
What have you discovered?
I believe that the essence of creation is still rooted in a clear vision, conceptual choices, and a guiding hand. AI may be a tool, but I remain the true creator. Without my originality, this collection would never have seen the light. Moreover, it was not more efficient or faster to use AI in this way as a tool, on the contrary.
Who are the victims?
For high art, I see absolutely no threat. Some will focus more on innovation, giving rise to new art movements, while others will continue to focus on craftsmanship. Decorative, inexpensive art will also continue. In that, sacred cows are not so important. Moderate artists who are savvy enough to make this work for them are actually at an advantage.
For the design sector, I think this is entirely different. Either you become a pioneer by letting AI work for you, or you get left behind. The speed of this development will be cumulative.
Plagiarism is a frequently mentioned caveat, what do you think about that?
Plagiarism is an old shadow that has always hung over art. It is a dilemma that has evolved over the centuries. Pop art reminded us that existing material can be the basis for an art form in itself. But even when it comes to AI, the uniqueness and talent of the person who does something with the work of others are always visible in the final result.
Why still create manually and not print?
Creating art by hand has great value for me. It strengthens the connection between myself and the artwork and brings me peace. Although printing can be quick and efficient, it often lacks the personal touch and the human soul that is put into handmade art.
What will you do next?
Creating sculptures for public spaces is still a dream. But I don't know what I'll do besides that. It always presents itself naturally.
Footnote: the dark side of AI in general.
Self-thinking AI systems that are smarter than humans and take initiative on their own raise important questions about ethics and regulation. The potential is there, but the path to responsible use is still unknown. How can you frame something that is constantly in motion? Our human scale is limiting in that regard. Competition and financial interests take precedence over moral responsibility.
While I mainly see advantages in the field of art, I would prefer to stop the development of AI in its entirety if I could, despite being an advocate for innovation. On a micro-level, I am incredibly enthusiastic, but on a macro-level, it seems too risky for the survival of humanity. Especially considering the fact that AI developers share these concerns.