Blog: The “Art” of Artificial Intelligence
Technological advancements continue to play an increasingly important role in the art market. Artificial intelligence, in particular, has emerged in the past decade to reshape modern perceptions of art.
Indeed, so prevalent has AI become in the art that it’s causing experts to rethink fundamental questions such as: who and what are exactly artists, and how is it that they can be classified as such?
This incredible advancement in technology has resulted in a changing art landscape that, for some, could be straight out of a Ray Bradbury novel.
In some ways, the fusion of AI and art is one that no one saw coming. How is it that advanced scientific innovation has helped aid and enhance what some view as the pinnacle of cultural achievement?
Below, we take a look at artificial intelligence and its unlikely marriage with art. Additionally, we’ll view the effects this has had one the art industry.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of machines or other software to learn and process information. AI has become a growing area of interest in several different fields — from healthcare to the military — and, yes, to art.
Over the past decade, advancements in artificial technology have risen concerns amongst some that machines could one day learn by themselves.
And though that may be a bit far off, as we’ll see, steps have already been taken to have completely AI-made artwork.
How Has Artificial Intelligence Benefited the Art Market?
The addition of AI into the art market has provided a number of benefits that were previously unavailable.
Most notably, the mix between artificial intelligence and blockchain technology has led to the creation of brand-new investment and security opportunities.
This has worked to cut down on several problems that currently plague art investors. These problems include the possibility of buying forged art, as well as limited investment opportunities.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these in turn.
First, artificial intelligence has become a powerful tool in helping combat forgery in the art market. Before, spotting a forgery required the very expensive eye of a professional — and even then, sometimes they would be wrong.
Now, however, with programs such as Artchain, galleries, collectors, and museums can immediately identify if the artwork is real or fake by looking for its unique ArtDNA fingerprint. This capability refers to an AI and blockchain-based, tamper-proof seal that uses its advanced technology to store a digital ledger of information. This ledger acts as a treasure trove of information that can verify the authenticity of a work of art — as well as provide a detailed transaction history and even track the condition of the piece.
This innovation has been applauded as one of the major steps needed to be taken in order to cut down on the presence of the art black market. This market, which runs on the selling of forged goods, can cost investors tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.
Now, with AI and blockchain working together to prevent investors from falling victim to fraud, the entire market has been uplifted. By reducing the entry barriers and the risks associated with art investment, artificial intelligence as strengthened the market as a whole.
But that’s not all. The fusion of artificial intelligence and blockchain has down more than reduce the number of forgeries being bought and sold.
It also makes it more likely that those from noon-wealthy families can start buying shares within timeless pieces of art. Because these pieces generally require hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase, this new process of asset tokenization decentralizes the market from the hands of a few wealthy individuals.
This means that the value of the art market can be expected to rise, as a growing number of investors join the fray.
How Has Artificial Intelligence Changed Art?
Perhaps a more fundamental question, however, is how has artificial intelligence worked to change art?
As has been evidenced over the past few years, the rise of artificial intelligence has brought forth pressing questions for the art community.
To understand these questions, one must first look at how AI has been incorporated into the art.
1. Increasing Number of Machines
The inclusion of artificial intelligence into art has occurred steadily over the past few years. Some of the first pieces of art produced with the assistance of artificial intelligence include those resulting from complex 3D printers.
In these cases, however, the art represents more of machine-assisted and produced art than machine created art. The difference comes in that 3D printed art generally relies on designs preprogrammed by humans.
They prove important in that they represent a predecessor to the more recent AI-created artwork.
This artwork, produced entirely by artificial intelligence to mimic the style of 14th and 15th-century painters, recently sold at Christie’s at a much higher going rate than expected.
In this way, the fusion of artificial intelligence with art has raised fundamental questions.
2. New Questions: Who Owns Art? What Makes an Artist?
With machines now fully capable of creating full-scale artwork, the role of the artist in the modern art community looks to shift.
Fundamental questions such as “what makes an artist an artist” now must be revisited with greater scrutiny. This proves true both in terms of crediting AI-generated work and in appraising its value.
Will investors start to place higher premiums on AI-generated work? Or will humans look to favour each other in the growing market place?
If the first of these questions proves true, what, then, will become of the artist? And what can be done for the rising artist looking to start a career? Will machine-generated competition make it even harder for budding artists to break into the market?
If so, will there be a cap on AI-generated art?
All of these questions and more remain unanswered. That isn’t to say, however, that they’re not running as an undercurrent among the whole AI-generated art movement.
With the AI-generated “Portrait of Edmond Bellamy” exceeding expectations and selling for over $430,000 at Christie’s, it appears that we may have some glimpse at some answers.
It could be that the work’s status as the first AI-generated piece is what drove up to the price tag. If that’s the case, the market can expect that the value of AI art to fall as its occurrence becomes more common. As attitudes begin to shift away from the novelty of AI art to its quality, the venture may become more of a research phenomenon than an artistic one.
It’s in this area that AI in art faces the most challenges. The “Portrait of Edmond Bellamy,” for instance, hardly rivals the greatest works of human art from the 14th and 15th centuries — the time era it attempted to mimic. However, as advances in AI make technology more accurate, it may be that the quality of artwork advances.
For now, however, it must be noted that AI programs lack transformational creativity — that is, they don’t have the ability to create entirely new pieces and concepts from existing ideas. Instead, they can merely produce artwork that falls in the same vein as other styles. For example, the “Portrait of Edmond Bellamy,” was generated after developers coded thousands of pieces of art from the time period into the system. This allowed the limited AI system to generate an image more-or-less consistent with the style.
And, as anyone who has seen the piece can tell you, it doesn’t exactly look as though it was created by human hands.
It’s in this area that AI in art raises the most questions — and it’s where the attitudes of investors will come into play in the years to come. Ultimately, the value of AI-generated art will depend on the shifting attitudes of investors.
Still, many agree that it would be unlikely that any of these pieces would be able to generate the same amount of fanfare or hype as artwork created by humans.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Art
Both independent artists and big-name tech giants will play a role in the development of new AI technology. Google, for example, has taken great strides in attempting to create AI systems that possess transformational creativity.
In other words, the tech giant is looking to create AI systems that can create brand-new artwork all on their own. To do this, they have created a new system called “Magenta.”
This new system works to analyze such a wide volume of images that it can create a relatively-unique original art. At least, that’s the goal.
For now, Google — and even Microsoft — have received negative fanfare for their attempts at AI-produced art. With critics attacking the work as “soulless” and without taste, we must again ask: what is art?
If a machine — that has no understanding of the emotional value behind the art — does happen to produce an aesthetically-pleasing image one day, could it ever be considered art?
Can art produced by artificial intelligence systems ever contain “soul” or any form of “emotion?
These uniquely-human characteristics likely won’t be part of any AI system — at least not any time in the near future.
For this reason, the reception of AI work in the market will likely be a contentious area of debate over the next decade. With a growing number of developers likely to attempt to produce AI art, the art community will have to reach a new consensus on what it means to be an artist.
Additionally, in a world in which commonplace and mass-produced art may one day be handled by machines, it’s likely that the value of quality, “timeless” art produced by human will only continue to rise.
Will There Be a Pushback?
Finally, one must consider the idea that both artists, collectors, and connoisseurs may start rejecting the inclusion of AI in art — at least in some capacities.
If the quality of AI-generated art can get to be so aesthetically pleasing that it displaces true artists, it’s likely that the market will begin to view it unfavourably.
In other words, many may begin to feel as if this use of AI may look to replace humans more than it works to help them.
For this reason, it’s likely that the future of AI in the art market lies in its ability to aid blockchain systems in providing greater security and establishing ownership. In this regard, AI works to provide greater benefits to those within the art market without displacing them.
Used as another indispensable tool in the artist’s tool bag, AI may secure a steadfast place within the market. If used correctly, AI looks to make a more open and enticing market for various kinds of investors.
The Bottom Line
The initial incorporation of AI into the art market has been met with both praise and slight hesitation. Perhaps the greatest utility that AI can bring to the market is through its ability to complement blockchain technology.
This combination can be witnessed with Artchain, a powerful new platform that democratizes the art market with unique asset tokenization. This decentralization undermines the art black market by establishing immutable property rights to the respective owners of an individual artwork.
Those looking to trade, buy, or sell artwork can then view a digital ledger of the transaction history for each piece. This added transparency works to decentralize the market in ways that have never been witnessed before.
These powerful benefits look to be the future of AI in the market. As noted, despite the success of recent AI-generated artwork at Christie’s too many questions remain. These questions haunt the future of AI-generated artwork and question whether it will ever be formally accepted by those in the art community.
As you look to invest in the art market, keep in mind just how artificial intelligence is changing the field. By understanding these core questions, and by staying up-to-date with the direction the market is headed, you can start making better investments that secure your assets. For this reason, be sure to keep this information in mind as you work to navigate the expanding art investment market.