The Question Concerning AI & Art
“The only thing I got in this world is my word and my nuts
And won’t break ’em for nobody” Jay-Z
Artists & Gods
Artists are gods.
By creating, artists bring forth something new into being that did not previously exist. Like gods, anyone who claims to be an artist is, and when artists say something is art, it is.
Like gods too, however, not all artists are equal. Some artists may simply say that they are artists once, while others go on to create as much as they live and breathe for as long as they live and breathe.
What artists do as artists is what really defines them, and at the heart of what artists do is their intent: the degree to which they reflect their aim or intention of being an artist.
AI & Artists
Many are decrying the proliferation of AI and ML assisted creative tools as the death of artists. These claims have arisen because now anyone, effectively, can create work like an artist. Core to this argument is the assumption that tools are what make an artist an artist.
So then, will AI kill Art & Artists?
I wasn’t alive when the first canvas or paintbrush were invented, but I have seen quotes from folks alive when the camera was that contain similar proclamations forecasting the same fate for artists and painters. Obviously, in retrospect, that couldn’t have been further from the reality which unfolded afterwards.
More egregious than their incorrect predictions of how new tools would impact certain classes of artists, however, was the complete inability to consider the potential of the camera to unlock a tsunami of latent artists onto an entirely new plane of artistic existence which, as history clearly shows, is precisely what happened.
This latter phenomenon shares a salient string that few are pulling on when it comes to AI and artists of the future who do not identify as artists today.
At the same time, AI and the myriad tools it is already and will someday power are just that: tools. And a chisel does not a sculptor make.
Artists & Intent
Tools help artists but they don’t define them; individual artistic intent is what determines how certain tools are used (or not) by artists.
Because of the proliferation of certain tools – digital tools in particular – we have more artists effectively creating in public. As more artists use digital tools like the internet, blockchains and computers, we can observe, track and follow the artistic intent behind what they create now more than ever.
Diving into digital art releases or “drops” as they are referred to in the context of cryptoart is a fun way to observe the spectrum of intent between artists.
The gulf between an artist who simply mints their digital creations and adds a buy-now price or initiates a no-reserve auction and the artist who creates a full bodied collection of multiple works with a deep theme and compelling narrative that they meticulously edition and design in a way that reflects said theme that is then wrapped in a thoughtful weeks long marketing & promotion push that they also design is as far apart as the East & West are.
One side of the artistic intent spectrum isn’t better than the other; they’re just different.
It’s from this difference that we can examine and understand and learn from artists in how they reflect their unique artistic intent as much as from the final artwork they create and what being something today can potentially mean.
Being something means being more than the user of a mere tool or toolkit. It’s about one’s intent and how it is (or isn’t) reflected upon the shared canvas of life.
Like gods, artists always show the Way that others can follow, or not. Like artists, we all can be the gods of our own lives.
Would it make a difference if this was written by AI?