The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Art

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the imaginings of a science-fiction novel. It is a part of our everyday lives, and it is used by businesses and retail outlets to  improve customer service on a regular basis.

However, AI can also be seen in creative industries, such as in marketing and design. One of the industries that AI is seeing a rise in popularity is in the arts, most specifically art itself. Below are just some of the ways that AI is impacting and could impact art.


Is 3D printing the new sculpting?

With African art, sculpting is a skill that is passed down from generation to generation, but with new AI innovations such as 3D printing, who is to say that it will remain this way? 3D printing allows an artist to create a 3D image on their computer using specific software, then send it to the 3D printer for it to be created.

These 3D printed artworks, such as the ones created by Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer, who used algorithmically generated geometry and hundreds of millions of surfaces to create their 3D printed ‘grottos’ show how AI can be used to augment the artistic process. Artists do not collaborate with their sculpting tools or paint brushes, but rather wield them, much like we see 3D printing being wielded to create stunning sculptures.


Collaborative art created with bots

There are some who appreciate art more than they have the ability to create it. Recently, Microsoft created a bot that is able to take the stress out of the creation process. It is an AI-powered bot which creates a drawing from a written description of a picture. This is revolutionary when it comes to people who would love to be able to create art but lack the ability to draw or paint.

While this might seem like an innovation that takes the brush right out of the artist’s hand, it is nothing new that artists have been using digital software to enhance and change their work. One example of this is Kenyan-born artist Osborne Macharia, who uses digital software to manipulate his storytelling in African art photographs. Collaborating with AI is something that artists are looking into even now, while still maintaining their own autonomy over what is created.

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Deep learning and photography

A deep learning, AI tool that is being released into the art world soon is Arsenal, a tool that both amateur and professional photographers can use to take the perfect photograph. It is a ‘smart assistant’ AI tool which assesses the data it has to choose the right shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, for a professional camera.

Photography is one African art method that is still growing in Africa, but with tools like Arsenal, aspiring photographers can create stunning pictures to share with potential clients and help to increase the popularity of the medium. This type of deep learning has previously been seen only in software development spheres but it is being introduced into the art world little by little, allowing artists to create art efficiently and effectively.


AI-fuelled installation pieces

One major part of the art world is having exhibitions, which installations are a big part of. One such example of an AI-fuelled installation is the Astrocyte sculpture made by Philip Beesley, an architect.

The point of his piece was to show people that architecture is more than just decorative, that it can interact with people and provide a unique experience. The sculpture was made from acrylic, mylar, sensors, custom glasswork, 3D-printed lights and used AI to change the light pattern and sound in response to participants’ movements. Using AI to fuel a piece does not take any ownership away from the artists, in fact, it allows them to enhance their own imaginative ideas.


It can provide unique ideas

Many people are afraid that AI will cause the loss of their jobs, but this is not so. At this point in time, AI and machine learning are being used to enhance and augment the artistic process rather than take it over. New techniques and methods are being learned, especially by younger artists and technology is being embraced more and more in the art world.

Art created by the combination of neural nets and humans can produce unique results that do not have to replace human ingenuity. Artists are inherently creative, as one can see with the African art being produced today. However, an artist can sometimes feel themselves running out of truly groundbreaking ideas, especially in today’s age of technology and the fast pace of the world. Using AI can help artists to come up with new and exciting ideas for their work, allowing them to create something they never thought of before.

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