Artificial intelligence is becoming more popular in creating images. This raises the question: Can AI create art?
The answer is “Yes” at San Francisco’s bitforms gallery. Through December, an exhibit called “Artificial Imagination”, features works created or inspired by DALL-E’s generative AI system. It also includes other types of AI. DALL-E and similar systems like Mid journey or Stable Diffusion allow users to type words and receive an image back.
Steven Sacks founded bitforms in New York in 2001. The San Francisco branch opened in 2020. He has always been interested in working with artists who work at the intersection between art and technology. This may be the first art show that focuses on DALL-E. It was created by OpenAI and is the first Sacks presentation to concentrate so directly on work made with AI.
3D printing is a common technique in art. New text-to-image technology such as DALL-E and Stable Diffusion can produce stunning images at lightning speeds. This is unlike anything else the art world has ever seen. These AI systems have been used to produce experimental films, magazine covers, and images to illustrate news stories by millions of people in just a few months. These systems are becoming more popular, but they also attract controversy. Artists were in a frenzy when a Mid journey image won an art competition at Colorado State Fair.
Sacks said that generative AI systems such as DALL-E are “just another instrument”, noting that artists have used their past work throughout history to create new work.
He said, “It’s an amazing partner creatively.”
“Artificial Imagination”, which spans many mediums and many styles, includes artists such as RefikAnadol who use technology in their works, as well as those who are less familiar with it. The range from Anadol’s 30-minute video loop that shows a computer’s view of an ever-changing scene in nature to Marina Zurkow’s bright image collages created with DALL-E. They almost feel like Soviet propaganda mixed with old-fashioned storybooks.
Sacks stated that the exhibit, which is being presented jointly by Day One Ventures and bitforms, is in many aspects an educational show about DALL-E and the way artists use AI.
DALL-E is more common in the use of AI in many pieces, including August Kamp’s 2022 Print, “new experimental edition, state of art”, which appears like a closeup of a retrofuturistic stereo aboard a spaceship. Kamp explained that she started by creating the primer. This is a collection of words such as “grainy”, ‘detailed”, ‘cinematic”, & “movie still”. She wanted to create an aesthetic that evoked her desired aesthetic. In this instance, Kamp stated that she had just paused a movie, and was trying to make it look like she was watching it. She then added words to create electronic synthesizers that looked as strange as they sound.
The final piece is a mixture of about 30 different images that were generated. Each section was outpainted, and AI was used to expand the image by adding additional elements. Kamp also used Photoshop for the final image.
Kamp noted that galleries are a common idea that bad art is rare. However, she believes that generative AI tools such as DALL-E can help people see that art can be abundant. For example, anyone can have a vivid dream and type in the description of the image they want to create.
She said, “Art to me is and should be very plentiful because it’s an expression of love or feelings, which I believe are abundant things.”
Some pieces are AI-based in an indirect way (and possibly silly), such as the 2020 sculpture by Alexander Reben, “Cesi N’est Pas Une Barriere.” Reuben used AI to create a description of an artwork that was not there. He used text generator GPT-3 as well as a custom set algorithm to do this. The description is displayed on bitforms gallery’s walls. It also includes the title and the name of a fictional artist — Norifen Sorgenberg, who was born in 1973. Other text includes “It has an extremely domestic feel and yet it’s very oppressive” as well as text like “The use police to issue handcuffs are striking.” They are used in society to hold prisoners. But here they are used as a barrier between the viewer’s work and their context.
Reuben created his sculpture around the description. It includes elements such as green roof shingles and porch lights. There are also metal grab bars and handcuffs.
Sacks stated, “I just wanted to put it out there: There are a variety of artists, here are different ways of presenting that kind of art, living with that kind of work, and connecting with that kind of work.” “I wanted people asking questions about it.”