Join the mailing list for updates, offers and more! Sign up

The Evolution of AI Art from Novelties to Fine Art

Is AI art real art

Is AI art real art?

AI art has gone from simple, early experiments to being recognised as fine art. Advances in technology have made AI-generated art more complex and realistic. It’s now widely accessible through digital platforms, gaining recognition from the public and the art world. Collaborations between AI and human artists are expanding creative possibilities. There are ongoing questions about who owns AI art and its impact on human artists.


The Early Days of AI Art

The Initial Attempts

AI began as a curious experimentation.

Early on, artists like Harold Cohen developed programs like AARON in the 1970s. AARON was one of the first AI systems capable of creating art, producing abstract drawings based on programmed rules.

These initial attempts were groundbreaking, showing the potential for machines to participate in the creative process.

Technological Limitations

Despite the prospects, it was simply too ahead of its time: our technology could not keep up.

Computers lacked the processing capabilities needed to perform complex tasks, and the algorithms were relatively basic.

It resulted in artwork that, while intriguing, often appeared simplistic and mechanical.


Technological Advancements and Their Impact

AI has seen incredible advancements over the past few decades, even growing in the last 2 years.

The development of machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks has dramatically increased the capabilities of AI systems.

A significant breakthrough came with Ian Goodfellow’s introduction of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) in 2014. GANs allowed AI to generate images that were not only complex but also highly realistic.

  • Machine Learning and Deep Learning: Advances in these areas have significantly boosted AI’s ability to analyse and create art.
  • Neural Networks: Enhanced the understanding and replication of artistic styles and techniques.

Creativity and Complexity

All of this unlocked greater creativity and productivity for AI.

For example, AI models could now learn from vast datasets of existing artworks, identifying patterns and styles to create pieces.

These days, it’s becoming increasingly harder to tell what is AI-generated and what is a real photo.


AI Art in the Digital Age

Certain platforms have made it easier for artists to create, share, and sell their AI-generated pieces, democratising access to AI art tools and allowing a broader audience to engage with this new form of creativity.

  1. Websites and Marketplaces: Platforms such as Artbreeder, DeepArt, and AI Art House have become popular for creating and distributing AI art.
  2. Ease of Creation and Sharing: These platforms offer user-friendly tools that enable artists to generate and share their AI art with ease.
  3. Commercialisation: Online marketplaces allow artists to sell AI-generated works, reaching a global audience.
  4. Democratised Access: The availability of AI art tools on these platforms allows individuals with varying levels of expertise to explore and create AI art.

Wider Public Recognition

As AI art became more accessible, it also gained greater public recognition. High-profile exhibitions and showcases have featured AI-generated works, increasing their visibility and legitimacy in the art world.

Not to mention, it’s also the frontrunner for a lot of different memes.

  1. Exhibitions and Showcases: Prestigious institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), have included AI-generated pieces in their exhibitions.
  2. Media Coverage: Increased media attention has highlighted the innovative nature of AI art, sparking curiosity and interest among art enthusiasts and the general public.
  3. Public Interest: AI art’s accessibility and novelty have drawn attention from a wide audience, contributing to its growing popularity and acceptance.


AI Art as Fine Art

Recognition by the Art World

The acceptance of AI work by the traditional art world marks a significant milestone in its evolution.

In 2018, the sale of “Edmond de Belamy” at Christie’s for a significant amount highlighted the monetary and cultural value of AI art.

This event marked a pivotal moment, suggesting that AI-generated art could be valued and respected within the established art market.

The high sale price indicated that collectors and institutions were willing to invest in AI art, seeing it as a legitimate and prestigious form of fine art.

However, officially recognising AI art as fine art is not without debate.

Critics and supporters are divided on whether AI-generated pieces can truly be considered fine art.

Creativity and Authorship:

Traditional views of fine art emphasise the human artist’s intent, vision, and creative process.

Critics argue that AI lacks the consciousness and emotional depth required to produce genuine art. Conversely, supporters contend that the human input in programming and curating the AI’s output suffices to meet these criteria.

Originality and Expression:

Another point of contention is originality. Critics claim that AI art is merely a recombination of existing data and lacks true originality.

However, supporters argue that AI can synthesise new patterns and forms, creating original works that express the interplay between technology and human creativity.

Emotional Connection:

Sceptics question whether AI-generated art can achieve the same level of emotional impact as human-created art. However, emotive reactions evoked by such art suggest that the emotional power of art lies in its perception, not its creation.


Collaboration with Human Artists

One of the most exciting developments in AI art is the collaboration between AI and human artists. These partnerships blend human creativity with machine precision, creating unique artworks.

  • Collaborations: Artists like Refik Anadol and Mario Klingemann have embraced AI as a creative partner, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in art.
  • Creativity: By collaborating with AI, artists can explore new artistic directions and techniques that would be difficult or impossible to achieve alone.
  • Symbiosis of Human and Machine: These collaborations highlight the potential for a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, each bringing unique strengths to the creative process.


Ethical and Philosophical Considerations

Authorship and Ownership

The rise of AI art raises important questions about authorship and ownership in the art world. As machines can generate artwork independently, determining the rightful owner and creator becomes complex.

  1. Ownership Debates: Who owns an artwork created by AI— the programmer who designed the algorithm, the machine itself, or the person who provided the initial data?
  2. Legal and Ethical Challenges: These questions have sparked legal debates over intellectual property rights and moral debates over the essence of creativity and authorship.
  3. Evolution of Debates: The discussion continues to evolve as technology advances, with implications for how we define and protect artistic creations in the digital age.

Impact on Human Artists

There are also concerns about the broader impact of AI art on traditional artists inside creative industry.

  • Threat of Job Displacement: Some fear that AI could replace human artists, leading to losing jobs and creative opportunities in the art world.
  • Enhancement of Creativity: Conversely, proponents argue that AI can enhance human creativity by providing new tools, techniques, and possibilities for artistic expression.
  • Collaborative Potential: AI and human artists can collaborate, blending machine precision with human emotion and intuition to create innovative artworks that neither could achieve alone.


Final Thoughts

AI has rapidly evolved into a recognised form of fine art.

While debates about ownership and AI’s impact on human artists persist, AI’s integration into the art world opens new avenues for innovation and collaboration. Looking ahead, AI promises to redefine artistic boundaries, inviting us to explore the exciting intersection of technology and creativity.