AI Art/GAN Art: What is it and Why are Artists Jumping in?

August 2, 2022

Written by:
Ayomide Adeleye
Kwame "Symbolik" Newman-Bremang

Will AI art make human artists obsolete in the coming years? As technology advances we are depending on machines to do more and more, when it relates to art, from authenticating if art is real or fake, to actually creating one of a kind artwork. As machines take on a significant part of the creative process, the art world is being fundamentally transformed. But, can we really consider what AI creates true art?

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” This statement could echo the sentiments of the audience who gathered at the Christies’ house auction for the first piece of AI art (Artificial Intelligence art) sold in 2018. This artwork was sold for $432,000 despite the audience’s mixed reactions towards this “pixelated, grainy and unfinished” art form.

The world of art is fascinating. Using images, artists make a statement or tell a story that captures people’s emotions and feelings; after all, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. When art enthusiasts, critics, or random passers by engage with these images or art forms, they resonate with the artist’s feelings and respond positively (or negatively) to their work.

However, what happens when AI starts to produce art? Technological advancements are driving rapid improvement in machine learning. Artificial intelligence can now perform human tasks faster than ever. When AI is integrated into the art world, human artists can collaborate with AI machines to create interesting art forms that can amaze and delight art lovers.

This article considers how AI art can influence our perception of art. We will also examine how people generate unique artworks via text-to-image AI models. Finally, we’ll look at some monetary considerations when it comes to digital art in the age of blockchain and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

AI and Art: Should They Mix? 

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AI has been around since the dawn of modern computers. Since then, people have used artificial intelligence in art in two remarkable ways.

Firstly, people use artificial intelligence to analyze and verify the authenticity of art. The art world has an interesting weakness: original art can be duplicated, passed off as authentic, and sold at high prices to unsuspecting buyers. Art professionals who are authenticating a particular piece of art generate AI codes to identify recency in brush strokes, paint types, patterns, and texture of different pieces of similar artworks. AI has proven an effective tool to determine if art is genuine or fake.

Secondly, artificial intelligence can be used to create unique digital art. Through trained AI models, digital artists and creators can enter simple text strings to generate corresponding art pieces within seconds. 

This technological advancement has birthed a growing interest in new generation artists and creators who want to create art using artificial intelligence. AI can enhance digital artists’ creative abilities and push the bounds of their imagination. The creation process using AI is quick, and the output is unique and diverse.

How is AI Art Generated?

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AI artworks are created using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). The GAN model, created by Goodfellow and associates, works on three basic principles. First off, the GAN model needs to “train”. Training is the process of collecting data, learning, and getting to the point where the machine understands a range of data sets. The data can be images of people, objects, animals, and everything under the sun, including the sun. This first process is essential to ensure the model understands and can accurately represent anything that is requested to be depicted. 

In the second step, the model adapts to different scenarios or situations based on the data set. The AI model processes the request and delivers a series of images. The human trainer selects the preferred, or most appropriate output, based on their request. Finally, the GAN model is equipped to use deep learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to generate a unique artwork that is, hopefully, aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Interestingly, once trained, this process takes mere seconds. In summary, the GAN model learns and understands the inputted text, adapts to different scenarios, and creates AI art!

To better illustrate this concept, let’s consider an example of “A dinosaur eating a banana on a beach.” In generating this image, the GAN algorithm utilizes two neural networks to interpret text input, leading to art creation. 

Image Credit: Imgur

The first neural network combines an image of a dinosaur holding a picture of a banana and makes the background a beach theme. Once the images are combined, the second neural network is key in adding realism, ensuring uniqueness, and ensuring that the output is true to the text string request. 

If the network determines that the generated image is not unique, or doesn’t adequately fit the requested criteria, as understood by the second model, it adjusts the image until it best fits the text request. Voila! The neural networks have created the artwork of a dinosaur holding a banana on a beach.

AI Art Generators: DALL-E2

One of the best AI Art generators is DALL-E2, developed by Open AI. DALL- E2 can depict realistic images, illustrations, product designs, and even digital depictions of ideas for business uses. This tool equips both professional and amateur artists with high-quality and unique images. All that is required is to type in your simple text, and within seconds, several one of a kind images are generated based on your text input.

In addition, the AI interface is easy to use. DALL-E2 enables artists to freely add details such as highlights, shadows, contrast, and filters to the images they generate. It also provides different variations of the requested artwork. It is noteworthy that Open AI’s DALL-E2 product is not open to the public. However, you can join their waitlist to get an invite to access DALL-E2.

The Future of AI Art: Can it Replace Contemporary Art?

Forward-thinking artists, who are active in NFTs, tend to be early adopters willing to try out the newest and most cutting-edge technology. It should be no surprise that AI art (GAN art) is gradually gaining popularity as the technology improves and becomes more accessible.

For example, Jeff Gold, a DJ, producer, and co-founder of NEAR Hub and Tamago music streaming service on NEAR protocol, is optimistic about AI Art as a tool that will benefit artists of all abilities. He believes that AI/GAN art will reshape the art world in positive ways because the technology behind it can quickly produce stunning and unique artworks by simply giving the AI model a prompt to create the image(s) you want to see.

Digital artists and creators can, have been, and will continue to monetize their unique generative art (AI/GAN Art) by minting them as NFTs on the blockchain, and making the work available for sale on NFT marketplaces. In this article, we’ve mentioned two exciting use cases of AI in art. One, your simple text can generate vivid artworks that are unique to the world, produced in a flavor tailored to your specification, with the help of artificial intelligence. And two, they produce a variety of stylish images, making it possible to draft varying versions fast. 

AI art is certain to help redefine art as a whole; however, there is tension around AI art in the conventional art world. Contemporary art has traditionally embraced and celebrated human emotions. It is totally human-driven. This presents a paradox; AI art is devoid of emotions and presents a relatively new collaboration between humans and AI models to create art. While humans are limited in their contribution to the creative process, they get all of the credit for the work. 

Some will ask, is it truly art when the skill and knowledge base has been outsourced to AI? Some believe that this innovative form of art should be embraced as it offers fresh perspectives on how people and machines interact. How do you see it? Share your sentiments with Umba Daima, a global community that truly cares about art and humanity moving towards a positive trajectory in Web 3.0.

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