Sunday, May 3, 2020

Human art vs AI art

Below you see an image that I airbrushed (the analog type with a compressor, an airbrush gun and real paint) during a fair in Utrecht, The Netherlands, demonstrating for the Revel company that sold airbrushes and paints. It was sprayed on a T-shirt with a Vega 1000 airbrush and Illu-Color paint in the early 90's of the previous century. Years later I found a photo of it that I digitally reworked in Affinity Photo. When conducting demonstrations for Revel I almost exclusively airbrushed portraits of Native American chiefs, because apart from their facial traits that struck me, the stories of their lives intrigued me. I could place the images in a context and in doing so make my perceptions more profound.

Comanche chief Quanah Parker - freehand airbrush on T-shirt
years later digitally reworked in Affinity Photo

Already in those days I wasn't interested in shallow people and things. This got worse over the years, haha! Fluffy stuff just isn't my thing. It bores me senseless and I can not find it within myself to attribute any interest to it. Quanah Parker was an intriguing person. His mom, Cynthia Ann Parker was captured by the Comanche, she married a chief and gave birth to Quanah, which means 'fragrant'. Later she was recaptured by her Caucasian family, but tried to escape several times to rejoin the Comanche. She never succeeded in doing that and never saw her son again. Quanah meanwhile had become a legendary warrior chief who never lost a battle to the colonial British army. At one point though he realized that continue to fight would decimate his people after which he voluntarily surrendered.

In the western colonial society Quanah became a successful business man and politician. He had bought himself a big mansion, but always preferred to sleep in the garden at night. To me that meant that his intelligence and wisdom included aspects that were entirely alien to that of the western world to which he had adapted to a certain level. Quanah clearly had retained fragments of the perception and awareness of the environment in which he was raised and in which he had lived an intense life, characterized by engaging in battles of life and death with mortal enemies. The fact that he later concluded that it was to the benefit of his people to stop fighting, reflects the power of his mind, his empathetic character traits and ability to accurately estimate future events.

All the things above, went through my mind when creating the portrait of this legendary man. My portrait was some sort of a visual tribute to him that perhaps in a modest way re-created the awareness of his existence. I was unable to think of an other reason why I did this, realizing that to most people airbrushing his portrait meant nothing at all. But that is what happens all the time in life in this dimension; what interests one person, others are totally oblivious to. Which brings me to the fact that I often see art on the Internet that I find intriguing that is completely ignored by the art world. It causes me to wonder what criteria are used to determine what is good art and what art is not even worth giving any sort of attention. I am not talking about the financial value of artworks, although that often indicates how people in the art world think.

Besides art created by human artists, since recently art created by AI (artificial intelligence systems) has gained ground in the perception of the general public. Of course 'influencers' play a role in the acceptance of AI-art. People and organizations that have moved themselves into a position of authority, to a great extent decide what to look at and what to buy. The 'artwork' below was created by AI and promoted by Christie's auction house. I suspect that creating markets is part of the consideration that Christie's may have had to feature this art, but saying such a thing is of course 'not done', it isn't a politically correct thing to do, because well... Christie's knows what art is and the rest of the world is simply expected to follow their lead without questioning their expertise.

'AI-art' - portrait of the fictional person Edward de Belamy

The above is a portrait of a fictional person that the AI-system named Edward de Belamy. Although it seems a bit strange to hide almost half of Edward's virtual face behind the frame, it sold for $432,500.00 ( . . . ) nevertheless. I don't know about you, but to me it feels like besides the 'art' an entirely new context - portrait art of fictional people made by AI-systems - was created. It probably was estimated to be a category into which a certain future number of artworks would become eligible to be sold, while inventing such a category was probably aimed at turning it in to an accepted development has the potential to open up markets that did not exist before. Art buyers and collectors love to be trend-setters, so this was quite a smart move by Christie's marketeers. This of course is all pure speculation on my part, but don't be surprised if my suspicions will turn into reality soon. Oh, and should you become interested in the artist's 'art work', its name rolls off the tongue quite easily:

Remember that name and start clearing the walls in your residence to make space for art work that is created by AI-systems. You may also want to check the depth of your pockets, because this new type of art certainly does not come for free. I am not sure how they will go about the certificate of authenticity, but they will probably figure out a way how to go about that.

Hasta luego online virtual folks.

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