[This article also on Medium]
Ai art (or Ai + art) is here and it is now among us, via apps and sites. What will become of the value of art in general?
I’ve just wrapped up an NFT collection of AI generated fantasy art experiments which took me to cool, visual places I’d not expected. I went a bit crazy – addicted, immersed – but am now ‘free’ again to reflect and to analyse.
The trick is to choose a strong source image, and a phrase which starts to explore something close to your heart.
What I wanted, and mostly ended up, was to explore themes of:
Plant-based architecture, harmony with nature, organic homes, futuristic homes, green ideas, climate change hopes and fears, tarot-style spiritual cards and also potential concept art for a fantasy book/game/nft project (set in nature).
I was guiding the AI via the following: my choice of (nature photography) image, the short phrase I was entering and how close to the source image I wanted my results. The ensuing results would then guide my next move, like a feedback loop. When we went too far out I’d have to try a reduced setting, or even a different phrase, and try to steer things back on my track.
At times it could be frustrating, like not reaching a particular destination or desired kind of image. At other times I’d just feel content to have exhausted a certain idea and not wish to go further with it, even though I could have produced numerous results (which most likely would only have been similar).
For example: I have images of plants I thought would make great sci-fi homes or buildings. Not long afterwards, a short series of futuristic results emerged which were interesting enough or pleased me in some way, for at least peeking into this kind of future.
Below you can see the original image of a specific plant:
And an AI-generated ‘dream’ version, applied with the phrase ‘futuristic plant colony’ in the ‘Synthwave’ style:
What about exploring a honeysuckle plant?
Or a cucumber plant:
You can see how impressive this will be for fantasy artists, concept artists or book cover designers.
This is because generating AI-guided art is now so simple and easy. Select a source image, apply an art style, write a short phrase and also choose how close to the image you’d like to stay. This app (appropriately called ‘dream’ from wombo) makes it quick and easy. It feels a bit like dreaming. For once, I was creating artwork in seconds that no one had seen before, based on something I was exploring. More apps, more art styles, more advanced adjustment settings… these are all coming, no doubt.
This source image below, of the top of a maize/sweetcorn plant, for some reason yielded great results, which I just couldn’t stop exploring or let go, maybe due to a love of trees. But it also has quite a fantastical / firework quality.
I’d really have no idea where I’d end up, but it took me into a future of synthetic trees I’d never have envisaged for myself, in this way.
Or perhaps a more painterly, pessimistic style:
‘Words, words, words’ (Hamlet)…. The more abstract the phrase, the more abstract the results, and these seem less interesting to me and more random. They might make for good landscapes or attractive art, but they seem pointless if an artist isn’t exploring this as a trend which may lead somewhere. So I’ve discovered (personally) that I’m more interested in what AI art can do for existing artwork, concepts and ideas.
You can spend hours ‘dreaming’ by this process of natural AI art selection, evolving your way towards an outcome you want to share or to mint with society. It’s not easy throwing away a lot of the results, but you find your own reasons for rejecting them.
What will this do for Art?
It should be an exciting, incredible tool to boost artists (with some starter ideas and images) into the realm of explorers and dreamers; they who emerge with some kinds of golden material. It may become difficult to tell the difference between original and AI-guided work. And yes, it’s very possible to see the value of art as a whole (i.e. artists putting the time in to create personal images) change and become more marginal. That seems ok to me. There’s a lot of crap out there, and it may discourage ‘artists’ who aren’t really looking to explore something or create something which is haunting them. Art can be a very distracting profession and keep a lot of people very poor!
Do I think AI can create artwork on its own? Maybe, but that’s not interesting to me, or likely. The beauty is in what the human standing before such a new magical techno-mirror will be asking AI and what they will create together, as an elaborate tool in the hand.
Expanding on a Theme
Artists / creatives will be able to explore and expand themes they’ve explored in previous artworks and sketches, onto a whole new level. It should be liberating for those who don’t feel they can draw etc. And, it will push any artist or photographer into areas they may (even unconsciously) have always wanted to explore visually. Their findings can then be worked up further or enhanced in different or traditional media.
For music, architecture, design, writing and stories, concepts, VR environments, AR experiences… this emerging field of super-fast AI-based generation will be fascinating and bizarre, and also at times highlight how the human touch is still so vital.
Next question: when everything is so easily or effortlessly ‘found’ or generated, what will become of the meaning of art?
When the process is sidelined, and it all becomes about the idea or application, what about human effort? Or, when we get to a point when so many are able to create so much, that nothing in that field is truly rare or requires a level of expertise. Perhaps for art, at least, this doesn’t matter?
But it’s like getting robots to grow vegetables. If it’s all done for us, there’s no contact with what we are, physically. And, there’ll be nothing to expand our knowledge of how to do it in different ways, or to evolve an understanding of, for example, nature’s specific demands.
Need and experience is what fashions our cultural meaning and preoccupations. Eg. the Romans became master of mosaics for both impressive marks of power and intricate decoration of their public places and baths. They were the useful Bored Apes of yesterday (but you could even walk or swim over them). But times change and the wheel turns in the same – but new – revolutions.
AI automation… will likely be the next trend we must all follow, while at the same time finding ways to live contentedly, where we deploy current technology to contribute to the few things which really count: Nature, one another, our surroundings, this precious planet…
Perhaps if things just don’t compliment any of these, we should really just delete or throw them away. Yes, even if they’ve taken a long time to create.
Fellow Ai explorers!
Are you looking to explore an image and produce your own AI results?
Just a few suggestions+examples of phrases I used to explore images:
- Futuristic Plant
- Futuristic Plant Colony
- Arrival in a Greener Future
- Organic Home Star Palace
- Flower Pod Colony
- Arrival in a Greener Future
- Arriving at Futuristic Colony in the Plants
- Organic Leaf Homes
- Futuristic Jungle Home
- Futuristic Tree House
- Avatars of Nature
- Players of Nature
Mint them as NFTs with an OrganicMV title and I might collect it!
Ade mc (8/2022)