Artists are questioning the place of artificial intelligence in visual art

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According to Investment Ontario, the province will be “a true hub for artificial intelligence (AI), not just in Canada, but globally.” If AI has grown in popularity over the years, it raises a number of questions, especially in the inescapable art world of French Ontario. Dehumanization of art, devaluation of manual know-how, uncertainties related to copyright ONFR+ make the point.

“AI refers to several scientific disciplines in computer science, mathematics, methods with different goals. It can be language, visuals, etc. Céline Casters-Renard, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in artificial intelligence and the regulation of new technologies, explains.

In other words, it is an algorithm that composes a finished work from components found on the Internet in artistic use.

AI: with or against artists?

The expert believes that “Some problems are starting to arise that AI can create works and have some originality, although these tools are based on already existing data.”

According to Josée Lavoie, a Franco-Ontarian illustrator and graphic designer, it’s this borrowing of information that creates the problem. “Of course there’s always a lot of things that threaten the graphic design and art world,” he says, citing Fiverr as another example, “but it’s mostly to show that it’s dangerous.”

The latter highlights a particular concern about the potential rights theft that artists face after publishing their work online.

Carys J. Craig, lawyer and professor of intellectual property law at York University. Image credit: Joncarlo Lista

York University intellectual property law professor and lawyer Dr. In fact, says Carys J. Craig, “there’s not much that can be done.” According to the latter, it is very difficult to know how the elements of the works are used and where they are directed.

“If a visual representation of the artists is found, they will usually go into a database from which the AI ​​can generate the image,” he says. “So an artist can never know if their work is included or what work is included, and frankly, these data sets are usually thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of PCs. »

Ms. Castets-Renard admits her side: “I don’t know if I should be concerned, but the boundaries or concepts of copyright protested. »

Héritier Bilaka, a visual artist from Ottawa, worries about the use of artificial intelligence. According to the portraitist of 14 years, “If it’s enough to touch a keyboard and then say we’ve created something, I don’t know if the next generation will still have the sense of manual labor? Know-how, physical contact with the work.”

Varis Bilaka is a visual artist from Ottawa. Courtesy

The Congolese artist claims to have a different understanding of what art “should” be. “For me, art is not something that can only be visual or technical. It is especially related to spirit and spirituality because it carries living energy.”

However, “for a long time, with copyright, we recognize that the author (artist) is not necessarily the financial doer,” Ms Casters-Renard corrects. He explains that in the case of creation of works by artificial intelligence, the human is always the designer who shapes the finished result. Some therefore envision AI as a tool, legitimizing its role in more than one art.

Also gaining popularity is digital artist Karen Vanderborght, who has experimented with AI creative software such as Midjourney, Dall-E, and Dream Studio. The latter takes the spontaneous and rational aspect of artificial intelligence as a phenomenon that it enriches artistically for collaboration.

Karen Vanderborght, digital artist.

“I like that AI gives me weird suggestions. Me, I’m not interested in imagining it as a process of efficiency, I see it more as an artistic game”, – indicates many interested in new technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

The second believes that “we will always have a market where people want human-made art.”

Céline Castest-Renard shares the same opinion: “I think for the moment there is no pure and simple replacement of people, but there is definitely a shift in tasks. »

A limit to AI creativity

While it is statistically difficult to prove that the rise in artificial intelligence is harmful to artists, Ms. Casters-Renard says it is undeniable that it will never completely replace them. The reason is unanimous among all participants: it cannot embody the authenticity of the human approach.

The professor gives the example of a company that wants to collaborate with an artist versus an AI-powered program: “If everyone has the same graphic design, because the tools capture the spirit of the time, then everything is there. mainstream, companies may not be happy with the outcome. It does not allow them to distinguish themselves or stand out from others. »

To confirm that market changes happen often, but are not always counter-constructive for people: “It can only push us a little more in our characteristics, skills and experience,” he admits. teacher.

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