Creativity is the cornerstone of human expression and drives innovation in every field. Creativity is also a difficult challenge for artificial intelligence. Computer vision and natural language processing are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but AI struggles with more abstract concepts like beauty and originality. To generate art from scratch requires a very high level of creativity, as well as knowledge about aesthetics, colour theory and other disciplines that inform what makes something appealing to look at. It’s not just about generating random images; it’s about creating something that feels right and has an element of meaning behind it. In this article, we’ll explore the current state of AI-generated art, the different approaches to creating digital artwork, and some of the most impressive examples so far.
What is AI-generated art?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad term that refers to computer systems that can think and learn as humans do. “Generated art” refers to computer systems that produce art autonomously. When computers create art autonomously, they use algorithms to generate content, which means that no human hand is involved in the creative process. Since computers are not human, their art is often surprising, sometimes surreal, and always beautiful. Some examples of AI Art Creation software are MidJourney, DALL-E, and Disco Diffusion, and there are many more coming shortly.
Approaches to generating digital art with AI
An AI algorithm can be trained to recognize specific visual styles and generate new images based on that data. This is called “Visual Style Transfer” and can be used to create new images from the aesthetic properties of existing images, as well as a source image.
Generated Image Basics
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it is computer generated, it’s often difficult to interpret or understand the meaning behind the image. One common approach to generating new images is to randomly sample visual elements from a source image and combine them into a new scene. While this can result in some striking images, there is often no underlying meaning or story behind the generated artwork. Some generated images are so abstract that they are difficult to interpret and understand. The best-generated images use elements from a source image to inform the overall style and aesthetic of the new image. For example, to create a new image based on a landscape, the AI algorithm might sample the green grass from the source image, the sky from another image, and a few other visual elements to create a new scene.
Using AI to Create Art from Scratch
Many different creative tasks can be automated using AI, but creating a truly original piece of artwork from scratch has remained a challenge. While many AI algorithms can create impressive new images, they lack the creativity to generate something completely novel and unexpected. One approach to this challenge is to get the computer to break down the creative process into smaller steps. Since AI isn’t creative, it can’t produce high-level concepts like “beautiful artwork” or “interesting story”, but it can generate basic elements like colour palettes and shapes.
Understanding AI-generated art
AI-generated art is challenging to interpret since we don’t know what the computer is thinking when it creates new artwork. Computer algorithms are black boxes: no one knows exactly how the AI system is generating new images, and it’s difficult to know what the computer is looking at when it creates new art. There are a few ways that AI artists can help us better understand their work. Some generated art includes a small caption that explains the image and how it was generated. Others include a link to the source image that the artwork was based on. Many AI artists also include keywords that describe their work, as well as a link to their website, so that people can explore the full body of work. This helps us understand the image and find new artists that we might not have discovered otherwise.
Artificial intelligence is progressing at a stunning pace, and it’s difficult to predict where AI-generated art will go next. On one hand, we could see AI become increasingly sophisticated at generating high-quality artwork. On the other hand, artists could use AI as a tool for creative inspiration, much like a painter might use a palette to select colours. A few years from now, we may see AI-generated art in galleries and exhibitions. More likely, AI-generated art will be widely accessible online, allowing everyone to experience a painting created by an algorithm. Creativity and artistry are critical to human expression. If AI is truly capable of expressing itself artistically, then we must ask ourselves: What do we have left?