As an attendee at Sónar+D 2023, I witnessed the cutting-edge advancements and trends in AI art. This renowned event brought together artists, technologists, and enthusiasts who collectively explored the intersection of artificial intelligence and creativity. From cool installations to thought-provoking discussions, Sónar 2023 provided a platform to delve into AI art world. In this blog post, I’ll cover the key trends and insights I observed at Sónar+D 2023!
This year we could feel the rise of AI art, in contrast to the previous year when its impact felt less pronounced. Several factors contributed to this shift. First, AI-based tools have surpassed the “mum-threshold” (a point at which AI use cases become understandable and relatable to people). The application of AI in art has become more accessible and tangible, with clear and comprehensible use cases emerging. Moreover, AI’s generation capabilities have become more consistent and reliable. This consistency lends credibility to AI-generated art, allowing it to be taken more seriously and recognized as a legitimate form of artistic expression. Another reason for the current momentum of AI art is its ability to add real value. AI algorithms can now generate unique/captivating artworks, and can contribute/innovate in artistic workflows (below I discuss more those trends). Furthermore, the fact that influential AI tools are open-source has played a crucial role. This openness encourages participation, allowing artists, researchers, and enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds to explore and contribute to the field of AI art.
AI has made interesting stylistic contributions to the world of art, introducing new styles based on AI artefacts and editing techniques that captivate audiences. From the visually stunning Sónar poster to the mesmerizing visuals in the latest videos by Runnaway, AI’s influence is undeniable. It embraces the concept of the uncanny valley, creating a sense of intrigue and fascination as it blurs the line between the artificial and the human. AI artefacts have become a source of stylistic inspiration, shaping the very essence of it aesthetics. Similar to how the iconic 808 sound defined the trap and rap genres, AI’s artistic contributions are defining a unique aesthetic that somehow resonates with art enthusiasts.
AI has the potential to impact workflows across various creative industries, with efficiency (whatever this means) being a key driving force. The emergence of these new workflows might necessitate the education and training of individuals to adapt to these changes.
In the realm of multimedia, the future of AI is still being defined. It holds the potential to shape the landscape of future tools and software, similar to how companies like Photoshop or Canva have made their mark. The development of AI-powered tools can streamline processes, particularly in the creation of video games, where production costs tend to be high. By leveraging AI, the industry can open up avenues for more affordable and independent game development. The integration of AI into creative workflows has the potential to make creative industries more accessible for independent creators, fostering the growth of low-budget innovative productions. Similar to the digitalisation of music creation, where home studios became commonplace, the rise of AI-driven tools may empower more individuals to explore their artistic passions and contribute to the underground landscape.
Addressing pain points within existing workflows is another aspect where AI can make a significant impact. Time consuming tasks such as character building for games or movies, storyboard creation, scripting and music mixing can be augmented by AI, saving time and potentially providing inspiration. However, it is important to note that the role of the human director remains crucial, as AI-generated content can lack of artistic discourse and human touch. While AI can be a valuable tool, it is ultimately the people behind it who drive the creative process. AI algorithms can produce a vast quantity of content, ranging from artworks to music compositions. However, the sheer volume of generated content often necessitates the role of curation. Not all outputs will be of high quality or relevance, but within the “sketches” lie hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Mixed feelings around AI
The emergence of AI art has sparked a range of reactions among people, encompassing both optimistic and apprehensive viewpoints. Within this spectrum of opinions, I want to highlight several intriguing ideas that navigate the middle ground.
One common idea was that “AI algorithms cannot replace artists”. Many feel a sense of weariness from repeatedly hearing this statement, calling for a shift towards more nuanced discussions. To foster a more constructive dialogue, people advocated for experience-based opinions rather than speculative fear-based opinions. Encouraging conversations rooted in real-world experiences will lead to a deeper understanding of AI’s potential and limitations.
Rather than attempting to mimic human intelligence, some argue for focusing on exploring the unique capabilities of AI that diverge from human abilities. This perspective suggests leveraging AI as a tool to extend our creative and cognitive capacities, much like how humanity has used machines to augment our physical limitations.
Others recognised that the displacement of jobs attributed to AI is often the result of corporate and political decisions. Blaming AI alone for job losses overlooks the larger structural factors at play. In the past I wrote a post entitled “On Ethics and AI: an economical perspective” that also touches on that.
While AI may develop its own audience, people argued in pro of the enduring connection between individuals and artists. The human connection and emotional resonance with the artist’s story and their unique creations remain integral to the appreciation of art. Despite the potential rise of AI-generated art, people will continue to value and care deeply about artists and their individual expressions. Let’s reiterate together: “AI algorithms cannot replace artists”.
Disclaimer: The following ideas are not original ideas of mine but rather a collection of interesting concepts I encountered during Sónar+D.