On Artificial Intelligence
So Chat GPT, Crayon.ai have provided a lot of room for running wild on time saving and mental dissociations, indeed I did a couple of tries to see what all the fuzz was about and found it interesting, but at the same time worrisome, and not for the sake of the use of artificial intelligence but for what it meant for art and photography.
A teacher at my son’s school was checking and had the same challenge, how to know if an student has created his essay or if it has asked AI to do it for him. My reply was short and perhaps not really futuristic, and it is the basis of my post. Perhaps children should do they essays in class, with pen and paper in front of the teacher. Yes it will cost time, yes those fingers that might have get used to typing will get the normal pen callous skin and yes the teacher will have to remember why calligraphy used to be taught (specially for medical schools).
This same instance got me thinking and started to present itself as a problem that needed to be solved, specially after I started seeing “photos” on instagram, like a post made to bring attention and awareness made by Benoit Paille where he asked AI to generate photos based on “The suburb-hood, a imaginary series where Todd Hido, Alec Soth and perky Terry Richardson go on a ride….” . I can smell the AI eeriness of those but will I be able to perceive it if the results were more like thispersondoesnotexist.com?
Indeed we can ask Instagram or other platforms to identify and tag these photos as AI generated, but then what would happen with any photoshop introduced by other photographers, what will happen to craft and what will happen to being a photographer? Will I believe that street scene posted? Will I like to embrace that new wave of upcoming artists “using” AI? So what is art then, only the idea typed at request of the human? or the result created by the AI? where is craft left and where is that boundary of a true photograph with mixed media art? Yes this questions were already there since the beginning of time with photography artiness vs reflection of reality mumbo jumbo. Yes a camera is a machine just like a computer. Yes photographers were creating new realities with photoshop. But there was a non spoken boundary, that defined a photo, and that was the image being captured and not being generated.
So, “preparation, incubation, inspiration, and elaboration” are the stages of Art as expressed by Graham Wallas. In AI this will mean just Inspiration from the artist. Leaving all other three items out. In photography, you could even say that incubation might be less present than in other art forms although I like to disagree specially when creating series or books. However all the elements are there. So what I am trying to say is that the result could be inspiring or jaw dropping but the actual artist was the artificial intelligence and the human served only as the inspiration, likewise in art, God or the divine take the human role of my last sentence as inspiratory whisperer, and the human interpreting it by preparing, incubating and elaborating it, wil be the artist. So for me AI generated art is indeed art but the artist should not be recognised as human, but as Crayon.ai or something else. Those generated images could be used but should be restricted by property rights that allow AI to profit and not some human. Now, I am not saying that AI could not provide a starting point as photography or video is a starting point for a more elaborate art pieces. What I am trying to point out is that if the results are not produced by a human, the craft recognition should be given to AI.
This poses my next point for photography, and that is how to ensure that the craft is indeed human based and not machine based? This for me is simple, and it has to do with my initial reply to my son’s teacher, pen and paper. This translates in photography to analogue methods, or at least if we are talking of digital to “proven” provenance photos. The latter is a little bit difficult with digital. But imagine the extra “value” that you could give to a photo printed, where your provenance can be proven with a negative, where the craft can also be enhanced by your darkroom technique. I am not suggesting that we should go back to a romantic photo age, I am just babbling on how I think it could go from here. I have my analogue cameras, I keep my digital at all times with me for my family pictures, but I have been taking more and more analogue pictures out of this sense of worry but also trying to leave out of the picture (pun not intended) the fact that I don’t need art to be instantly rewarding, I don’t need another dopamine hit with something that for me should be kept sacred, as we commune with the Gods and serve to their whispering inspiration.