ASK the ARTSPERTS AI and ART by Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Dear Artsperts,

What is AI created art and how will it affect the art market and art collecting?



Dear Data,

Art is created by artificial intelligence (AI) through a generator which can develop images based on text inputs. To best explain this process, we set up an account with one of the most popular AI generators, Midjourney.

“Eileen and Melanie in White” By Richard Segalman, Oil on canvas, 24” x 30”, 2008

The Midjourney generator works off a platform called Discord, which is an AI platform used most often by gamers. Once we set up an account it was relatively easy to navigate and use. To test it, we decided to describe a Richard Segalman work to the AI generator. We typed the instructions: “two women standing on beach wearing white dresses during midday. beach is in foreground. calm ocean in background. woman on left in profile facing towards the right. woman on right looking out towards the water. painted in impressionism style with oil paint. Horizontal”

In less than a minute the generator provided four options of women on the beach. We selected the image most similar to a Segalman work and from there tweaked it slightly by zooming out and softening it.

Midjourney AI created image from our instructions describing the work by Richard Segalman. Our efforts with AI fall far short of the brilliance of Segalman. It lacks all the emotion of what Segalman created. We will continue to leave art creation in the far more talented hands of our artists!

We may have gotten it closer to a Segalman work by using more descriptive words and further instructions. Although when we asked for a green bandana on one woman’s head, the generator gave us a Victorian era hat and a green skirt. The clothing and hairstyles the generator chose were from the late 1800s. It was stuck with impressionism being only of that time. Whereas Segalman is a contemporary artist. The result also failed to convey emotion.

We read the user agreement, with specific interest in the copyrights. The user owns the rights to the images created by the AI generator. However, the user grants a full license to Midjourney for use of the images.

Can AI replace art produced by an artist? One AI created painting fooled the judges of an art contest at the Colorado State Fair in 2022. The contestant spent 80 hours inputting over 900 instructions to create the image using Midjourney. It was printed out and submitted to the contest where it won first place. The judges did not know it was AI created.

It is possible AI generated art will replace the market for giclée because it is fast and inexpensive to create cheap works for wall decors. However, from the point of view of museums and art patrons in the fine art world, AI created art is unlikely to become a respected medium anytime soon. AI generators are limited. First limited by medium. The works must be printed with ink. For example, the AI generator can mimic the style of oil paintings, but the work won’t be an oil painting. Generators are also limited to working with images already available on the internet. That is a large pool to draw from, but nonetheless it is finite. And third, the AI images lack emotion that can only be created directly by human hand. We believe the human mind can go further in creativity, expression, and execution of art than AI.


The Artsperts

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