ARTificial: Art in the Age of AI
With Eva Cetinic, Friendred Peng, Florian Schmidt and moderated by Lucas Evers
As we move forward into the digital age, AI systems are emerging at a rapid rate, blurring the lines between human creativity and artificial intelligence. In the world of art, AI-generated works are becoming increasingly common, challenging our understanding of what it means to create, appreciate, and value art.
“Please indicate whether artificial intelligence tools were used for the creation of submitted art piece.” we added a requirement to this year’s Art of Neuroscience competition.
You may ask why we did not request to indicate whether neuroscience data was in any form transformed using AI tools? We (as humans) are admittedly biased when it comes to accepting how human-like AI can be. We accept AI to make intelligent decisions, analyze patterns in the data, help to solve or anticipate problems, but we are reluctant to attribute AI human-only qualities like understanding, emotion and consciousness. And we are convinced that emotions need to fuel the creation of art which AI is lacking. The theme of this year’s Art of Neuroscience Seminar, “ARTifical,” explores the intersection of art and AI, and the changing view of what the value and creation of art is in this emerging world.
There are many popular AI websites and tools that artists can use to create their works. For example, Midjourney, an online tool that uses neural networks to transform photos into (sur)realistic images, has gained popularity among artists. Another tool, “The Next Rembrandt,” is an AI-generated portrait that mimics the style of the Dutch master, and “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” is an AI-generated painting that was sold at Christie’s auction house for $432,500.
While the competition is now closed, we can reflect on the theme of this year’s “ARTifical,” discussing the intersection of art and AI and the changing view of what the value and creation of art is in this emerging world. The competition provided a platform for artists to showcase their works, whether they were created by humans, AI, or a combination of both, in response to this theme. All the submitted artworks represented a diverse range of perspectives and creative approaches, providing a thought-provoking reflection on the impact of AI on the art world.
Seminar and Award Ceremony in the Singelkerk Amsterdam, the Netherlands on the 22nd of June.
Redefining audience engagement: Transformational roles for neuroscience in the performing arts
Within the performing arts an invisible barrier has traditionally demarcated the realms of the audience and the performer, fostering a separation that often isolates the latter’s artistic expression from the former’s interpretative experience. This necessitates the development of innovative approaches to dismantle these established barriers and thereby enrich audience experience.
Throughout the history of the arts, technological advancements have fueled artistic expression and innovation, with each step forward opening new avenues for creativity. But, technology can be considered beyond the conventional roles of an assistive tool, instead, acting as a collaborator and agent. This talk will introduce two recent works, “Moving Photon” and “The Triad Entanglement”, which aimed to dissolve this entrenched barrier using devices traditionally designed for neuroscience and medicine. By integrating these elements into the realms of performance and installation arts, these works foster novel forms of audience engagement, blurring the boundary between the observer and the observed, and beginning to dismantle the longstanding barrier separating performer from audience member.
Synthetic Visions of Datafied Cultures
The extraordinary recent developments of generative AI technologies, particularly their ability to perform convincing and inventive multimodal transformations, motivates us to speculate about the impact of these technologies on our imagination, creativity and perception. One interesting aspect of this potential impact is related to the use of these models as sources for inspiration and suggestions. Outsourcing imaginative functions to generative AI technologies introduces a paradigm shift which additionally blurs the boundaries between individual creativity and collective influence. The creative driving force of individual associations, memories and subconscious imagery gradually becomes superseded by the vast pool of collective data references encoded within the latent spaces of large AI models. Large AI models are not just tools. They can be understood as repositories of cultural memories, which are capturing and reflecting collective experiences, dominant values and biases embedded in the vast amount of data they are trained on. Although we are becoming increasingly confronted with synthetic imagery produced by such models, the complex mechanism of associations encoded within those models remains unexplainable. So far, much attention has been given to the quest of generating realistic or aesthetically pleasing content, but the true challenge now becomes understanding the interplay between synthetic imagery and the datafied cultural echoes that shape them..
»transcendent beauty as a service«
When the txt-2-img tool Dalle 2 was launched by Open AI in April 2022, the sudden increase in the quality of AI generated images caused a ripple effect in the world of art and design. Ilya Sutskever, Open AI’s chief scientist, described the functionality of this new tool as »transcendent beauty as a service«. Since then various factions of image producers entered the debate, reacting to the new suite of tools with everything from enthusiasm to sheer dread. The talk will shine a light on how txt-2-img tools and the discourse around them has evolved over the last year, with a focus on the implications for the design professions, its shifting roles due to the advent of AI automation, and the the ambivalent value of prompt engineering as a deskilling skill.
Dr. phil. Florian A. Schmidt is a professor for design and media theory at the University of Applied Sciences HTW Dresden. He has a background in visual communication and has been doing research on the economies of platform-based image production in various forms since 2006. His current research is focussed on the implications of txt-2-img generative AI on the design profession. Together with Prof. Sebastian Schmieg and students at the HTW Dresden, he developed the Prompt Battle as a playful and artistic inquiry into the cultural mechanics of prompt engineering with image generators. Previous works include The Planetary Stacking Order of Multilayered Crowd-AI Systems, in Digital Work in the Planetary Market (MIT Press, 2022); Crowdsourced Production of AI Training Data (HBS, 2019); Digital Labour Markets in the Platform Economy (FES, 2016); Crowd Design: From Tools for Empowerment to Platform Capitalism (Birkhäuser 2015).
Lucas Evers is Head of Programme of the Make team at Waag Futurelab and leading Waag Open Wet Lab. He is actively involved in several projects that concern the interactions between the arts and sciences, arts and ethics and the arts and innovation in contemporary makers culture.
With the Make group he researches societal and ecological matters through hardware, production processes and materials. The Open Wet Lab is a laboratory where arts, sciences, engineering and the public meet to research biotechnologies and their impact in the context of society and ecology.
Could Ballet Be a Contemplative Practice? Why Do We Dance Better than Robots? Dance, Cognition & Technology. Neuroscience Inspired Dance. The Effects of Dance on the Diseased Brain.
Marieke van Vugt, Chris de Zeeuw, Maaike Bleeker, Arno Schuitemaker, Hanneke Hulst
Together w/ Worlding the Brain
Winner announcement at FENS 2016 in Copenhagen
Winner announcement at the Dutch Neuroscience Meeting
Tiel, the Netherlands