Artificial Intelligence Is A Brush, Not Art Itself

Artificial Intelligence Is A Brush, Not Art Itself

Author: Andy Shield

Apparently, artificial intelligence is now at the stage whereby it’s creating mesmerising art with such potency that it’s fooling historians, curators and even Bendor Grosvenor.

Yup, machines, not content to snaffle up our manufacturing, hospitality and retail jobs have turned their beady electronic eyes to our creative impulses. Soon there’ll be nothing left, we’ll live in our comfy insular bubbles, chomping away on genetically enhanced fast food delivered by Mikey, our local drone. Netflix box sets, white walls and glazed eyes.

Or will we? Is AI really capable of producing good art? The kind of art that sends us spiralling into a cerebral frenzy as our grey matter tries to comprehend how we’re feeling?

Art like this by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840).

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (c. 1817)

One man’s imagination drifting across an endless vista of misty peaks amid an unknowable territory. Is he the master of his destiny or merely a pawn in nature’s omnipotent game?

Beyond its initial dreamlike impact, Wanderer releases even more for the conscious soul as you reveal its story. You can learn about Friedrich, the Romantics, its historical context, the view itself etc etc. You bind yourself to it - and it to you.

Is this possible with machines? Well, let's find out.

AI image generators (the future of all visual art, so I’m told) are everywhere in Google. Here’s what happened when I asked each of them to ‘paint’ an image based on the phrase ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’.

Our hero reaches the summit despite the crutches. Brought a shopping trolley.

Hey Jacques, make mine an absinthe.

Georges, the geography teacher, sends back holiday snaps from a distant planet.

Sinister advertisement for a wonky pair of elven boots.

Jarvis Cocker photographed on a rainbow by a small child.

Zeus grows a third leg. Falls over.

Thank goodness mother packed lunch.

You could claim these are works of art, I accept that. Essentially AI is a tool, used by my hand, to create an image. But regardless of their aesthetics, there’s zero substance. It’s an obtuse gallery of disconnected graphics floating in the ether, tethered to nothing.

And I say this as a fully-paid up admirer of Marcel Duchamp’s fountain. Which is incidentally where I’d place all of these random concoctions - if they actually existed.

Without a story, art is nothing.

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