Australian singer Nick Cave has come out strongly against an AI-generated track “in the style of Nick Cave” sent to him in January by a fan. It’s “bullshit,” Cave said.
Meanwhile, three female fine art artists recently filed a class-action lawsuit in the United States against several AI companies, accusing them of stealing creative ideas.
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is entering the art world. While the consequences remain uncertain at this early stage, artists are already concerned about the appropriation of their intellectual property.
Will AI change art forever?
However, the art market has begun to trade in AI art as algorithm-generated works appear in museum exhibitions. But how will AI change creative expression itself?
Ai-Da is the world’s first humanoid robot artist to draw and paint with the help of AI and caused a sensation when it created works at the 2022 Venice Art Biennale.
Algorithms process the information and let the robot’s arm draw portraits of people. Ai-Da’s creator, Aiden Miller, developed her with a team of computer scientists, robotics experts and designers. Each of Al-Da’s works is unique. But is it creative?
Here come the robots
The Vitra Design Museum near Basel called its current exhibition about the relationship between man and machine, “Hello, Robot.”
“What fundamentally interests people about robotics and artificial intelligence is the very old human longing to play God,” says curator Amelie Klein.
Her show features a robot that writes manifestos. “This robot is dumb as a box of rocks,” she explained. “It knows three languages, vocabulary, grammar, syntax, but it doesn’t understand what it’s writing,” Klein told DW.
While robots, androids and artificial intelligence have long been a feature of sci-fi movies, from “Metropolis” to “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix,” can AI advance to feel emotions and create art?
Not soon, according to the director of Vitra Design Museum, Matteo Kries, who insists that “the machine cannot feel emotions”.
“This song sucks”
Nick Cave would agree. The chorus of the AI-generated song a fan sent him in the “style” of Nick Cave isn’t quite poetry.
“I am the sinner, I am the saint, I am the darkness, I am the light, I am the hunter, I am the prey, I am the devil, I am the savior.”
Cave posted a response on his website, explaining why he feels the ChatGPT-generated song is “bullshit” and a “grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.”
AI could write a speech, essay, sermon or obituary, but not an “authentic” song, says Cave.
“Songs arise from suffering, they are based on the complex, inner human struggle of creation.”
“Algorithms don’t feel, data doesn’t suffer,” Cave writes.
When machines engage in art
When a brand new Rembrandt appeared on the scene in the Netherlands in 2016, it was “in the style of the Dutch master” an AI-created work fed with data from 346 real Rembrandt paintings.
The countless algorithms that calculated the image were created by a team of programmers and scientists from Delft University of Technology, and Microsoft AI experts.
Two years later, AI-generated artwork achieved respectable sales for the first time. A portrait called Edmond De Belamy, created by an algorithm fed by 15,000 paintings from different eras, was auctioned at Christie’s auction house in New York for $433,000 (€397,000).
The French creative collective Obvious provided a completely fictional family tree of De Belamy, a golden frame – and instead of the artist’s signature, the algorithmic formula.
What AI programs like Midjourney, Dall-E and Stable Diffusion can do for images, Chat GPT developed by Open AI can do for textual content. It conducts conversations, answers questions, and writes texts of various kinds on demand. Students are increasingly using the software.
Who is the author?
Who owns a work generated by a machine that has been fed with millions of — copyrighted — images and texts? Who is the creator of creation? Is the AI the author, or is it the programmers? Perhaps Picasso, Rembrandt or Van Gogh and the artists and writers whose works provided the data for the machine?
The director of Vitra Design Museum, Kries, does not believe that artificial intelligence will ultimately replace the emotional aspect of art and creativity.
Vinzent Britz, art director, motion designer and lecturer at the Berlin College of Fine Arts, compares the current situation to the transition from classical painting to photography.
Before photography became an established art form, “there was resistance, people said that’s not art, that’s photography, that’s plagiarism,” Britz told DW. He expects a similar development in the case of artificial intelligence.
Making AI “fair and ethical”
The three artists — Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan and Karla Ortiz — who filed a class action lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and the Deviant Art platform are seeking damages and “injunctive relief to prevent future harm.”
Their lawyer Matthew Butterick writes on his website that the lawsuit is “another step in making AI fair and ethical for everyone.”
Looks like there’s still a long way to go.
This article was originally written in German.