Art through the “eyes” of artificial intelligence
What makes us human? What is that unique thing that only humans possess? Many may argue that it is art. Art is the deepest human expression. Animals cannot make art, or at least non-trained animals cannot.
There are some animal “artists” that were “taught” to make some form of art, take for example Pockets Warho, a capuchin monkey that is good with paintings. Still, there is no recorded case of any animals starting to create art by their own. Of course, there is also the white-spotted pufferfish who makes mesmerizing sand circles at the bottom of the sea to attract females. The whole business behind this behavior is not fully understood, but scientist have concluded that is a matting ritual.
We cannot truly confirm that animals do not create art, we are yet to understand many things about them, but we know for a fact that only humans make complex art.
Left – Pocket Warho, the capuchin monkey while painting, right – the puffer fish and his sand circles.
Art comes for both abstract and concrete thinking along with the creative process. We manage to communicate through poetry, paintings, sculptures and music a plethora of emotions. This is what art does; it makes the observer feel things! It is about feelings, emotions, states of mind, symbols and the intangible, and it is one of our most complex and precious ability.
Left – ”Mona Lisa” by Leonarndo DaVinci, right – manuscript ”Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven.
We all know those futuristic sci-fi scenarios (maybe not so sci-fi anymore), where robots and Ais replace our jobs and are either benevolent, helping us in becoming a better species, or malevolent, wanting to destroy us.
Left – Sonny from ”I robot”, right – the sentinel from ”Matrix”
Nowadays the use of Ais and robots have helped us in many industries, staring with IT and medicine, all the way through constructions and agriculture. Their input is a real game changer, making our life easier and better.
Some say that maybe this is not a good thing, that machine will replace humans, making us useless or unemployed, other say that robots and Ais are limited (for now), they cannot rise to our level.
Another argued idea is that Ais cannot create true art, while some others are concerned that Ais will replace creative jobs.
Recently, I, myself have played around with Midjourney, an Ai that makes complex and dare I say, emotional art. I was surprised and delighted.
You just have to “ask it” to imagine things for you! You describe to “him” what you have in your mind (objects, colors, emotions, landscapes, etc.), you can also give some technical details (like image resolution, high quality definitions and concepts like “3d”, “octane render”, “natural light”, and so on) and it will create 4 versions of the prompt for you. You can chose to improve one or all four creations, or make more variations, until you are satisfied with the result. This is how Midjourney works.
Here are some creations of the Midjourney Ai after the prompts I wrote. He have here the four variations of the prompt that contained the following words: ”night landscape with wooden boat, fire, dark blue, realistic, high quality”.
The last image is the final one that I chose to be upscale.
This painting left me speechless! ”He” did it! It conveyed emotions! It took me there! ”He” is good wiht lights and colors. ”He” knows how to paint!
It can create anything you ask it! Like a cat god or a zebra man, or something crazy, like a fish man in a suit wearing a top hat.
Or you can ask it to create abstract stuff in different styles. Like this “naga and pearls on wet plate photography”.
Here are some images from other users.
You can see how intricate and detailed the Ai can get. See how the light falls on the imposing and charming face of the “cat knight in shining armor”! It is also good with portraits, it knows human faces, but wait a second… it messed up the hands!
I wanted to see by myself what happened with those hands and I ask it to create a simple image: ”humans hands holding a sphere”. It could not do it. I have searched though the community creations and I saw that hands are a conundrum for the Ai. It just cannot imagine and create hands in a right way!
Although Midjourney is a very “poetical artist”, it misses the finer details, the technical ones. It is not good at drawing hands! And this is very funny because drawing hands is difficult for humans too, especially for beginner artists.
And it’s not just on the hands where the Ai messes things up, if you look closer at the details, you will see edges that are messy, blurry, ragged, the Ai is still a beginner…or it has its limitations. Here are some mermaid trials. Didn’t quite managed to create them, but the composition and colors are still amazing and mesmerizing.
Maybe you can help it get better by uploading photos or images on which the AI can create, and maybe it will do a finer job. There is also this possibility, to have it create something using an uploaded image or photo.
I saw a lot of people on social media ”bragging” with images generated with Midjourney saying things like ”this is art made by me using Ai”. That is not quite fair, is it? How much is it your merit and how much of the Ai’s? In the end the Ai does all the creative stuff (and it really does an amazing job), your only input being the description and then the choices of different variations.
Let’s be honest, the Ai does all the work, and this is not a bad thing. For working artist, the art generated by the Ai can inspire them and offer a starting point for their own creations. In the end, I really feel that the Ais (like Midjourney) exist to support us, rather than to replace us. No matter the industry field, the Ais are made by us to “serve” us.
In the creative domain, the AI is the helper of the artist, not a replacement. Yes, ”his” art is crafty, neat, beautiful, inspirational, but it’s the human mind and hand that deliver perfection.
And we in the branding industry can rest easy. At the moment, the Ai is not a threat. In addition to creative ability, he will also need understanding and empathy, as well as the possibility of human interaction. Who knows, maybe in a few years we can play with an Ai who will do his “internship” in branding. You can play around with Midjourney, the beta version for free, or you can take a look at the community feed, to see what the Ai has created for other users.
Author: Ana Armeanu, August 2022