A.I. and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

Screenshot So what is all the uproar about Artificial Intelligence and the creation of images/artwork? I have a few thoughts 💭… Now let me say I have not personally interacted directly with any A.I. program targeting the creative image making field (i.e. Photography.) I have however watched a number of demos of some of the newer iterations like Adobe’s “Generative A.I.” feature in its beta version. While in many ways, I see it as something that would mostly benefit compositors, it does have some things for the less sophisticated to use but ultimately comes with caveats. 
Self-portrait ~ "On Film"Self-portrait ~ "On Film" I have to say creating composite images like this, whether in Photoshop or other programs like Affinity Photo with the traditional tools has always been fun and creative to me. At least half the fun of creating images like this is in the figuring out how to do it! The creative process of discovering and experimenting, making mistakes, and losing track of time is all part of being an artist and finding for yourself what is working for an image.

Self-portrait ~ "Of Light Mind"Self-portrait ~ "Of Light Mind" The using of your mind and imagination to the utmost to problem solve in creating a work of art is incredibly satisfying and something only the artist can fully experience. When I’ve watched the examples of the process of creating “photographic” images using A.I. my reaction has not been “mind-blowingly cool!”, and “this changes everything!”, but really more like, “meh!” 🤷🏻‍♂️. 
Frankly to sit at a computer and draw selections and type in prompts to create composite images from mostly images that are not yours, and then claim the result IS yours because you typed the words seems disingenuous to me. It also seems boring. The background image above was not produced by A.I. but is used simply to illustrate what prompts might be used to conjure a similar image. I wonder how long until the typing of prompts is replaced with simply speaking to the computer directly: “Hey Siri…” or “Hey Alexa, create a work of art from…” instead of the finger tapping to create images? There is something about the image of an artist pacing his or her studio, seemingly talking out loud to themselves but instead speaking to a computer imaging program spouting prompts to create a “work of art” without ever touching the real materials the art is made from that just feels wrong. While I’ve always hated the term “plastic art” because of the modern usage of “plastic” has been usurped to mean the stuff derived from oil, the word and term actually comes from Greek & Latin (of course!) meaning “capable of being molded, or modeled (especially of earth or clay or other soft material).”  What does this have to do with A.I. and creating “art” by means of prompts? Simply that A.I. removes the artist further from the deep experience of creating with hands, heart, and eye by wedging another “intelligence”, and an artificial one at that, between an artist and their work. It turns the artist away from being the one who creates by asking (prompting) another to create for them. It turns the artist into what I call a “conjuror” 

Read that very last line about “Magical sense.” This is where the part of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” comes in. In an effort to make his chores, his “job” easier, he conjures a magic spell which of course goes awry. While I see this A.I. tool which will inevitably come to the full Photoshop as having features that will be a boon for those involved with production imaging which requires speed and churning out a lot of images, I think for the artist, the fine photographic artist, it creates a false sense of making art as facile. Art was never meant to be easy. It should be a deeply felt struggle of a kind between the artist, their idea, and the tools and materials used to create it. If it’s too facile, too easy, just a word or two or the touch of a single button to make, where is the “Art” in that? 

I wonder how a truly gifted and visionary digital artist like Maggie Taylor feels about these new A.I. tools, and if the way they can help anyone create images like hers with none of the nuances and complexity of effort she goes through in her artistic process. What happens when “Art” becomes too easy? (* Update: I guess we know how Maggie feels about this A.I. revolution:

  https://santafeworkshops.com/workshop/maggies-magical-carpet-ride-into-the-world-of-ai). I do have some questions for her though. 

At the end of the day, A.I. tools in imaging software are just that, tools. You don’t have to use what you don’t need or want, and if what they offer are not part of your creative process, that’s ok. If you read further my posts on the A.I. phenomena, you’ll understand why I believe A.I. generated “Art” is not really worthy of the name. 
This is not A.I. From my Gallery :: Five ::  iPhone photography collection “Four Prayers for Japan” following the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster. 


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