Berlin/Pforzheim/Stuttgart Some time ago, an artificial intelligence completed Ludwig van Beethoven’s 10th symphony. DALL-E – like ChatGPT developed by the US company OpenAI – is a computer program that creates visual art. And now literature by robots that can be produced by anyone with internet access? The latest advancement of ChatGPT can even combine text and image creation. A development that scares some people. How much does artificial intelligence threaten art?
Let’s ask. “Artificial intelligence (AI) can be both a threat and an opportunity for art, depending on how it’s deployed.” The answer comes from the source – from ChatGPT itself.
Expert: “Potential is huge”
Real experts deal with the topic in more depth. For example Konrad Zerr, Professor of Marketing as well as Market and Communication Research at Pforzheim University. “I think the potential is huge,” he says.
In one project, Zerr commissioned students to create AI artworks. For example, the participants asked ChatGPT to write a poem in the style of Heinrich Heine that tells of people who get into a fight over mulled wine at a Christmas market. The results were entertaining. The students themselves said in their evaluation: “It is doubtful at this point whether the deceased great poets can actually be recognized in our AI-generated poems.”
The texts are not outstanding in literary terms. For example, asking ChatGPT to write a Franz Kafka-style cat story would pop up a listless, suspiciously Metamorphosis-like synopsis about a cat named Kiki who one day “woke up and noticed something strange.”
But there are other examples. Photographer and digital creator Julian van Dieken used AI to create the image A Girl With Glowing Earrings. It is based on the famous painting “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer – and is currently hanging in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. This caused outrage among some visitors. Why did the renowned museum choose the artwork? “Quite simply: because we liked the picture,” says a spokesman.
Some time ago, an AI fed with algorithms by the Tunnel23 agency created a poem that took part in a competition organized by the Brentano Society – and made it into their anthology.
So are we headed straight for a robot-infested art world? Oh well. “Art is always an interaction experience in which people deal with perspectives on reality.” That says the private lecturer Jessica Heesen from the University of Tübingen. Among other things, she deals with ethical and philosophical debates in the field of media and digitization.
Pattern recognition and probability calculation
An AI is always about pattern recognition and probability calculation, says Heesen. “But the person of the artist is missing, the aura of the original is missing and the provocation is also missing. To whom should one complain about a work of art?”
Whether robots could pose a threat to art “depends entirely on the concept of art that you use to look at AI,” she adds. “For simple decorative pictures that some people hang on the wall in the kitchen or living room, we will certainly see a lot of AI pictures in the future.”
Absolutely, both Zerr and Heesen see AI as a potential support for creating an artwork. “If there is also an artist who embeds, contextualizes and presents the work,” says Heesen. It’s a help, says Zerr. “And it also enables new forms of art.”
You can admire them, for example, in the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. There, visitors to the exhibition “Shift – KIT and a Future Society” encounter not only a babbling Chinese sex doll or a revenant of the acting singer Marlene Dietrich as a deepfake, but also numerous faces of the US whistleblower Chelsea Manning. US artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s 30 masks in “Probably Chelsea” are different, but they all come from a genetic sample from Manning. Dewey-Hagborg wants to show that the evaluation of genetic and personal data is not always clear.
Long way from technology to content
“Shift” is intended to examine “the already existing entanglement of AI and the reality of life”. However, the installations and digital works are too complex and complicated. Rather, they show that it can be a long way for AI to go from science and technology to content and quality in art.
The linking of AI and art is still in its infancy. “There is a general consensus that AI systems do not come close to human creativity, at least not so far, one should add,” says Ulrike Groos, director of the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. But the potential is there. For the future, Professor Zerr describes it like this: “The creative industry will have to change fundamentally in terms of processes and skills. These tools will be standard sooner or later.”