Is AI Art True Art? Explained With Examples

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What Is Art?

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The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur, French 1852–55, image source.

Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. Art is about producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Art encompasses various media, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, decorative arts, photography, and installation. It exists on a continuum from purely aesthetic to purely utilitarian purposes, with motives varying widely even within one art form.

In the 20th century, the definition of art was challenged, as artists like Marcel Duchamp questioned traditional distinctions and suggested that anything an artist deems ‘art’ can be considered as such, challenging the authority of art institutions.

This led to intellectual experimentation and the emergence of new media that further challenged traditional definitions of art.

In contemporary philosophy, there is ongoing controversy surrounding the definition of art. The question of whether art can even be definitively defined has also sparked considerable debate. Furthermore, philosophers have engaged in discussions regarding the philosophical utility of establishing a precise definition for art.

What Is AI Art?

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An artwork generated with Midjourney. Image credits.

AI art, or artificial intelligence art, refers to any form of digital art that is generated using AI tools. Although most commonly associated with visual art, such as images and videos, AI art also extends to audio compositions, including music.

AI art is produced through the utilization of artificial intelligence algorithms. It is typically generated with text prompts (text-to-image) or by transforming input images into new and distinct creations. AI art relies on models trained with datasets, like LAION 5B.

Traditionally, human creativity has been the driving force behind the history of art, with individuals using manual tools like musical instruments and paintbrushes to create a wide array of artistic expressions throughout recorded history. AI art, however, disrupts this paradigm.

AI art challenges the age-old notion that humans are the exclusive creators of art. Its introduction provokes inquiries into the origins of creativity and raises ethical and legal concerns. Simultaneously, it represents an opportunity to push the boundaries of art and creativity in various unprecedented ways.

The Difference Between AI Art and Art

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Image created with Playground AI, using image-to-image mode (original hand-drawn image below). Used Niji SE checkpoint model with image strength set to 50 and upscaled using Upscayl software.
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Original hand-drawn digital artwork called Shape.

The main difference between AI art and traditional art (including digital art, excluding AI art) is how it’s created. In traditional art, the human mind is the core of imagination, creativity, and creation, whereas, in AI art, the creation is done by an algorithm.

What Is Said In the Law?

To protect the intellectual property (associated with creations of the intellect or mind and valuable assets that can be owned) of creators, a copyright law was created.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office and Copyright Law, “Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression…” which means authorship plays a significant part in determining copyright protection.

In the case of AI, the user does not control what the AI generates. While text prompts guide the output of the AI algorithm, AI makes the decisions on what to generate.

A machine is not currently identified as an author. The author, in the context of copyright, is:

“the exclusive right of a man to the production of his own genius or intellect.”

“what matters is the extent to which the human had creative control over the work’s expression and “actually formed” the traditional elements of authorship.”

U.S. Copyright Registration Guidance

Throughout the copyright act, the word man and human is used to describe the author. The author, in this case, can’t be a machine or an AI. Only humans are considered authors and can have authorship; animals have been excluded from being seen as authors.

Conclusion

The main difference between traditional art (including digital art, excluding AI art) and AI art is that in traditional art, the human mind creates the artwork. In AI art, it’s an algorithm that creates the art. Throughout history, including copyright law and philosophy, the human mind and authorship have been brought to the center as the core principles when defining whether something is art or not.

However, in modern philosophy, what is interpreted as art is challenged. AI art can be art if a person sees it that way. In some ways, art can be anything. It’s the human mind that defines whether something is art or not. While someone sees something as art, the challenge comes from defining what art is.

In the copyright law, it’s clear that for an artwork to be copyrightable, it needs to be produced by a human mind, an author.

At the core of whether AI art is art is the human mind and how the person’s mind defines art. From a traditional standpoint, AI art is not art, as the human mind does not produce it.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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