For me (and I hope others) a large part of art is the process, and that includes the struggle, the narrative, the background, and the humanity we share.
I saw the gallery show of a friend of mine yesterday, and I had the opportunity to hear about what the artist had been through, and how the result of the experience of recent years led to the creation of the art, which was based on who and what their parents were, and their deaths, and the art as a remembrance of them. It was powerful, and as someone who has lost a parent (and the partner of someone who has lost both of their parents) it hit pretty hard.
Sure, there’s art we experience and like (or love) done by artists we don’t even know. Maybe they’re long gone, or they’re anonymous, or all you know is a name. And that’s fine, but I often find that the human connection, the understanding, the details about the work, and how and why it was created, is a key element of the work. I’ve always been someone who enjoys the “behind the scenes” stuff. As a kid I loved the Star Wars films, but I equally loved the documentaries explaining how they made them. Seeing the models and practical effects gave me a sense of understanding, and seeing the people involved in the creation, the “back of house” people who are crucial to any production, helped guide me.
I don’t want to just dismiss AI art as “cheating” because it’s different/easier than what’s come before, but I see AI art as a specific process, and right now it’s not a process I care for. Others do, and well, good for them? Personally I think some of the humanity of art gets lost along the way. And what is art without a dose of the human condition mixed in?
I did photography in the film days, but it didn’t stick. Film was expensive to process and after I left school I didn’t have access to a darkroom. A decade later when digital cameras were readily available I was all in. Was it cheating? To me the process of framing a shot, capturing the light, seeing a subject and recording it, that’s the process to me. I wasn’t a fan of the darkroom, but every shot I take with a DSLR gets “developed” or processed, in an image editing application. Levels, white balance, brightness, hue, saturation… all adjusted. The stuff that would be done in a chemical darkroom, I still do, but digitally. It’s extremely rare I capture an image on a DSLR and it’s not processed it some way. (Oddly enough, my daughter is a darkroom nerd. Probably using the same darkroom at UWM that I used 30 years ago!)
If AI art opens the door to more people being creative and making things they never could before, I’m all for that. It if just gives corporations more power and says to artists “Fuck you, we have machines for that now” well, I don’t care for that at all.