Sunday Times E-Edition

Editor’s Note

Andrea Nagel

As a barometer of what’s going on in the world, Instagram is still pretty good. Lately, my feed has been inundated by unsolicited AI-generated fashion and art posts. If you’re in doubt, I’ll confirm based on my Insta feed, AI is taking over — fast!

Since Instagram is picture- and photograph-based, it’ sa natural platform for showing art. On the @streetartglobe account, I recently saw a post that asked the following question, attached to a series of digital videos of celebrities rapidly ageing in cartoonlike time lapse: “Is this art?”

In The Goldfinch, author Donna Tartt describes art through one of the characters as “a secret whisper from an alleyway”. The ageing celebrities didn’t whisper anything to me, other than: “Look what Snoop Dogg, Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie will look like at 75 years old.”

But around the world people are winning competitions using apps that turn text prompts into art. Lately, tools with names like DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion have made it possible for amateurs to create complex, abstract, painterly or photorealistic works by typing a few words into a text box. Like journalists, artists are understandably nervous. Why would anyone pay for art if they can generate it themselves? Will the magic of being moved by someone else’s skill and ability to connect in a nebulous space of creation and appreciation be lost if machines take over the art world?

Prize-winning artist Jason M Allen, who won the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition, admitted to generating his entry using Midjourney. He defended his acceptance of the award by urging artists to overcome their objections to AI, saying: “This isn’t going to stop. Art is dead, dude. It’s over. AI won. Humans lost.”

Before that happens, Latitudes Art Fair and Open Studios, our featured stories this week, promise to wow you with some incredible human-generated art guaranteed to be emotionally engaging and profoundly affecting.

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