GENERATIVE AI: Reimagining art and its creators

Uma Ganesh | May 1, 2023 |
The master behind a masterpiece can now be a string of code.

The technological changes we have been experiencing all these years have often been touted as disruptions to processes and businesses; seldom have concerns been raised about the threat to creativity as it is intricately linked to the competence of human quality. With generational AI, the unique status of human creativity is being upstaged with ChatGPT and its brethren as these tools are capable of producing new creative content with a mix of images, audio and text that are as good or better than human generated output.

Even before ChatGPT captured the imagination of netizens, AI generated media has started disrupting the art scene with the likes of DALL-E 2, Lensa and others leading to fresh debates on evaluating arts created by human versus machines, the role of creators versus curators and the trends for collectors of arts. There has also been a huge criticism from art creators and curators about the increasing presence of AI in the art world and the disruptions it has been causing in the way art is consumed, appreciated and valued.

The core of art creation —authorship — has become a complex question as the creator has to be armed with the ability to create a set of codes to generate an algorithm supported by photo editing software. The identity of the art is no longer just the signature of the artist but could be a string of code. This raises the important question of copyright of the art work created. The present laws protect the interests of individuals who are responsible for the creative process. Legal system may have to come up with new interpretations of ownership of the creative process — would it belong to one person or a group of persons or a specific technological intervention put together?

In order to succeed in the emerging world of art, the ability to understand and produce standalone tech generated arts or blend human generated creative works with tech enabled formats becomes crucial. This would also mean the artist has to also develop technical skills or identify technical resources to collaborate with, in order to produce new genres of art forms appealing to the art connoisseurs.

On the one hand, the capability of AI tools to enhance the productivity and innovation of artists has been welcomed as it has the ability to empower artists. The tools have also enabled those who are keen to take arts to wider masses and relate to the distinctive interests of various segments and establish themselves in a relatively short span of time.

At the same time, the artists community is also concerned about the fake reproductions and plagiarism that have become rampant thanks to the widespread and easy to use tools. Therefore, only time will tell whether the value of a MF Hussain creation would be as valued as it has been in the past and whether the purists would possibly be able to command a premium for no machine interventions for their creation.

Originally appeared in Financial Express