The artist is dead, AI killed them

Can AI be genuinely creative?

Creativity is the last refuge of the artist. The technical skill and style of artists can now be replicated by artificial networks to reproduce new work. So, what impact does the human have on the creation of art when a new technology can replace skill? This problem isn’t a new one, instead we should look at the long history of new technology to see how new tools always extend the definition of what art is, writes Henry Shevlin.


In August this year, the Colorado State Fair found itself at the centre of an international news story when it announced the winner of its digital art competition. The piece, the cleverly titled Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, depicts an imaginary operatic performance before a small crowd in front of a vast circular window, through which is dimly visible a seemingly alien or otherworldly background redolent of the space operas of science fiction. What caused the controversy was not the piece

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation

Seth Edenbaum 25 October 2022

Jason Allen used a program as a tool. He's playing a language game using technology. The tool didn't make the art. And Eno at this point is a designer of sound and image. Design is a subcategory of art, but it doesn't force to rethink anything. His early work, a mixture of the Beatles, Gilbert and Sullivan and coin tossing, did. But Eric Satie is less a great composer than a charming one.

I've added this because I'm going to go off as a pedant on what is or is not art. Computers make patterns and patterns are aesthetic by definition.
If you want to think about the relation of art and design and Warhol soup cans you should watch this film—Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See—and understand how much work goes into the designs we take for granted, and remember that Warhol was both a homosexual and a devout Byzantine Catholic. His printed paintings are both ironic and sincere. The wrks in his Death and Disaster series are terrifying. Warhol will be remembered for the art he made out of his confusions and fears, because if you pay attention you begin to understand them, through a visceral, animal, neurological, "sympathetic vibration".
“People say Andy said he was a machine, but he didn’t. He said he wanted to be a machine, and that’s not the same thing at all.” Callie Angell
It's a common desire these days. In the future people will ask how that came to be. Art ain't rocket science, but it goes along way to describing the minds of rocket scientists.

Seth Edenbaum 24 October 2022

If a scholar wrote an essay making an original argument using nothing but quotes from other writers with a few words in between it would be called plagiarism. Academics don't write well, but there you go. Plagiarism wasn't an issue you 300 years ago and now it is.
But you have no understanding of what art is. Art isn't forward looking; it's retrospective. It's not "creative" it's observational, that's why it ages well, when it does.

"So what Brasilia became in less than 20 years wasn't the city of tomorrow at all. It was yesterday's science fiction. Nothing dates faster than people's fantasies about the future." Robert Hughes had his weak points but here he's on the money.

Picasso painted the present in 1906. It's the same present described by TS Eliot. "HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME" Plagiarism or collage?
Most importantly both made art about arrogant schoolboys terrified of women. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is a castration scene. Eliot and Duchamp were political reactionaries, and Picasso was a cafe communist (who made a fortune speculating on his own artwork). But more importantly they were all brilliant 20th century boys, and they describe that reality—specific to place and race and class-better than their peers, or at least better than those that we know of. They describe their present better than you describe ours.

There's no such thing as AI. Intelligence is animal. Proust wrote about memory, and loss: the descriptions of emotion. When you invent a program that fears its own obsolescence or death let me know. But I don't think any of us want a delusional supercomputer.

Marcello Milanezi 1 24 October 2022

It seems to me that by bringing legal cases to deal with art one is already abandoning the mysticism of the artistic imagination, bringing the discussion down to materialist, often capitalist, sphere... I remember Baudrillard's observation that in Simulacra we no longer produce, we reproduce. This seems to be the case I'd say. If we were talking of real A.I. creating from scratch, sure I'd concede it's art, but credits go to the A.I.; also if the A.I. is used as some sort of tool that ads to the artist's creativity (as a canvas of imagination, to test out ideas, etc), in short, if there's original CREATION involved, it would be art. But what we have (IG is full of it now) is a cheap copy-paste of "post apocalypse Giger cyberpunk" inputs, mere reproduction with no soul or originality, it's tantamount to doing "art" for no reason other than profit: it's bereft of spirit, and it is the spirit of a creative mind that makes art art.