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How Art Schools Are Dealing With The Rise of AI Generators

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To prepare for the 2023 spring semester, New York University professor Winnie Song did something she’s never had to do before: she created AI art guidelines for her students.

 

Song, an assistant arts professor in the Game Center at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, is not the only art instructor thinking about this. With the rapid rise of automated systems like Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DALL-E 2 within the past year, instructors at post-secondary art institutions are trying to figure out how to broach the topic with their students while still learning the intricacies of AI art themselves.

 

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“My worry was that they would use the AI generators to come up with mood boards and references of things that don’t exist in real life. So I just set a policy where, within the bounds of this class, it’s discouraged to use the generators,” Song told Motherboard. “I really didn’t ever imagine that it would get to this point where people would be, like, trying to legitimize it as a craft.”

 

AI-generated art has flooded the internet since users began generating elaborate images with just a written phrase or highly stylized portraits by uploading a selfie. The tools have been met with fierce backlash from many artists, who note that the AI systems produce derivative images after ingesting millions of original artworks without permission from their creators.

 

But while the growing sophistication of AI generators is raising profound questions about the nature of art and the creative process, it is also creating very tangible dilemmas for art educators who want their students to develop skills that go beyond typing a phrase into a text prompt and turning it in as their own work.

 

“I think we endeavor to teach them to become independent of tools and also make sure that they remain sort of agnostic, not reverent and dependent on one thing to get presentable work,” Song said. “You can learn this, and you can think about it, but that can’t be your one main thing to get to where you need to be.”

 

 

The ways professors have been introducing AI art in the classroom varies between classes and disciplines. Song said she’s teaching a drawing class in which students are supposed to derive inspiration from nature and the physical world, hence her AI art policy. On the other hand, Kurt Ralske, a digital media professor and department chair of media arts at Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, is taking a different approach.

 

“Personally, I’ve been encouraging students to explore this. I think they should know what the tools are, what they’re capable of and maybe develop a personal vocabulary of how to use them,” Ralske told Motherboard. “But we really are overdue for actually maybe having a larger discussion within the university of how we should handle these things.”

 

Doug Rosman, a lecturer in the Art and Technology Studies department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is also having students explore the generators in his machine learning class. But, in his professional practice class, a more career-focused course, AI art and its impact on working artists is a different discussion.

 

“In that context, the outputs of DALL-E and Stable Diffusion feel more threatening,” Rosman told Motherboard.

 

Instructors aren’t the only ones thinking about the products of AI art generators. Art students are also dealing with the effects of AI art saturating the market for artists and what that could mean for their careers.

 

“The way that artists are embracing crazy capitalist, hyper-technology culture is just really disheartening,” said Marla Chinbat, an art student at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “I wouldn’t be surprised if AI art actually begins to hold merit because of a side of the art world that I don’t align myself with.”

 

None of the instructors or students at the institutions interviewed by Motherboard said their department or school had issued AI art guidelines or a policy for using AI art generators for projects. Charlotte Belland, a professor and chair of the animation program at the Columbus College of Art & Design, said setting parameters is left to individual instructors depending on the topics and concepts being taught in class.

 

“As long as they establish what their parameters are, then that’s an open forum to be able to either use or not use AI technology,” Belland told Motherboard.

 

However, learning how these programs work and how to help students use them takes time and effort on behalf of the instructor. If an instructor is not already familiar with machine learning or computer science, navigating the ways AI-art generators are shaking up the art world and understanding the algorithms could take extra work.

 

“Teaching is hard. It’s so much work and it’s not well compensated,” Rosman said. “It’s not fair that a small demographic of people in Silicon Valley can just throw this thing out into the world, and we’ve got to just run around picking up the pieces.”

 

Susan Behrends Valenzuela, an art student at NYU Steinhardt. Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Even if their instructors have not brought up AI art in classes, students are still thinking about how AI art generators are affecting the art world. Susan Behrends Valenzuela, an art student at NYU Steinhardt, said the subject has only come up once in just one of her classes, but would be interested in further discussions in other classes.

 

“I do wish we had talked about it a little bit more,” she told Motherboard. “But at the same time, I think in order for that to happen, my professors would need to kind of know a little bit more about that type of technology, and I just think it’s not something they’re really focused on.”

 

Students are also thinking about how they could use these tools as part of their processes. Rhode Island School of Design painting student Julia Hames said they played around with AI generator Wombo for inspiration.

 

“For a while, I didn’t have any ideas of what to paint, so I’d just put in random prompts into Wombo to see what it created,” Hames told Motherboard. “I didn’t really like anything, but maybe it could be used for that because the images are so absurd and it just lets you into this uncanny valley that honestly humans can’t even get to sometimes.”

 

Julia Hames, a painting student at Rhode Island School of Design. Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Song, Ralske, Rosman, and Belland all said they have not had students use AI-art generators for projects without their knowledge. If a student did use AI for a project, the way they used it was clear to the instructor. Belland said that if a student did try to use AI without consent from an instructor, being in a community with diverse perspectives and skills would help catch it.

 

“The nice thing about an educational community is you have so many eyes on a project,” she said. “Even when a student makes an unfortunate decision to copy something in just a very traditional method, plagiarism, it’s pretty easy to spot.”

 

As for Song, she is also not too concerned with her students passing off AI-generated images as their own because she is already familiar with their work. She’s more worried about the students she hasn’t even had in class yet.

 

“In admissions, these new students are coming in from high school, from another life that we don’t know,” she said. “I think it could be possible for them to have created a portfolio out of thin air overnight using these generators, depending on how good they become.”

 

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Architects Embrace AI Art Generator Midjourney – Bloomberg

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Architects Embrace AI Art Generator Midjourney  Bloomberg

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7 Leading Curators Predict the Defining Art Trends of 2023 – Artsy

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Art

Ayanna Dozier

Jan 30, 2023 11:57PM

In 2022, we witnessed a rise in neo-surrealist art, NFTs, and textile-based art practices. These were trends that were bubbling to the surface by the end of 2021, but weren’t fully realized until the spring of the following year. Now, many other styles are emerging as key genres that may have their moment this year.

Artsy spoke to seven leading curators who lent their expertise and shared their insights on which styles and themes may newly emerge or continue to garner attention in 2023. Many anticipate that the sociopolitical climate will continue to inform artists’ practices, with some predicting a rise in more provocative art that critiques religion and systemic oppression.

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Other curators are looking to Latin American new media practices, and are excited by how artists like Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro and Xandra Ibarra use video and installation to create immersive environments that challenge the separation between the screen and the body. Meanwhile, others are intrigued by the possibilities and questions that AI will continue to raise in relation to authorship in the art world.

All the curators expressed an overall interest in artists who push the limits of their given medium, and continue to expand upon their practices in innovative ways. Overall, there is excitement and hopeful promise that 2023 will bring about a year of artistic risks.

Larry Ossei-Mensah

Independent Curator; Co-Founder, Artnoir

New York

Portrait of Larry Ossei-Mensah by Aaron Ramsey. Courtesy of Larry Ossei-Mensah.

Larry Ossei-Mensah predicts that abstraction by artists of color will become even more prominent in 2023. The genre, Ossei-Mensah believes, is essential to shifting the public’s belief that artists of color should only make representational work that is immediately legible. As an example, he pointed to the divisive reaction towards Hank Willis Thomas’s recently unveiled public sculpture The Embrace (2022). Ossei-Mensah also expects that abstract masters like Mo Booker, Raymond Saunders, Howardena Pindell, Emma Amos, Atta Kwami, and Barbara Chase Riboud will receive overdue recognition in 2023 as more institutions reexamine their bodies of work in relation to the younger generation they’ve inspired.

Ossei-Mensah anticipates that criticism by writers of color, specifically those who engage with abstract art’s relationship to cultural practice, will be particularly impactful on the art world. He cited the work of Hilton Als, Robin Givhan, Folsade Ologundudu, and Doreen St. Felix as ones to watch. Additionally, he listed the 2023 solo exhibitions of artists Chase Hall, Guadalupe Maravilla, Ming Smith, Tomashi Jackson, Frank Stewart, Amoako Boafo, Kennedy Yanko, and Anoushka Mirchandani as indicative of what’s to come this year.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries

London

Portrait of Hans Ulrich Obrist by Andrew Quinn. © Andrew Quinn.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is looking towards the work of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx artists who are rethinking notions of ownership, land, and the body in relation to futurity. He is particularly excited by immersive and interactive new media art, like video games. As he explained, “Video games are to the 21st century what movies were to the 20th century, and novels to the 19th century. Today, it’s much easier for artists to develop their gaming environments.”

Obrist referenced the work of Gabriel Massan at the Serpentine Galleries as a key example of an artist who is “uncovering new meanings on video games and phenomenology…that invites players to activate a fantastical and disorienting world populated with Massan’s digital sculptures, bespoke animation, films, camerawork, and sound developed by his collaborators,” he said. Obrist situates Massan within an incredible generation of artists from Brazil, including Jota Mombaça and Ventura Profana, who use technology to reexamine futurity and a sense of place while in dialogue with decolonial thought and practice.

Adrián Villa Rojas, Yinka Shonibare, and Otobong Nkanga, as Obrist noted, are similarly starting transnational dialogues that imagine a new future for us all. “As artist Ian Cheng often told me, at the heart of his art is a desire to understand what a world is,” Obrist said. “Now more than ever, the dream is to be able to possess the agency to create new worlds.”

Vivian Crockett

Curator, New Museum

New York

Portrait of Vivian Crockett by Ciara Elle Bryant. Courtesy of the New Museum.

Vivian Crockett is fascinated by what will emerge in the fields of new media art, film, and photography, particularly by artists of color from Latin America. In 2022, more opportunities arose for critical reflection on Latin American art and artists, as evident at the Whitney Biennial “Quiet as It’s Kept,” and the Focus and Platform sections of The Armory Show. This will likely continue through 2024 as Adriano Pedrosa mounts the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale’s international exhibition, becoming the first Latin American curator in its 122-year history.

When approaching Latin American art, Crockett emphasized that an understanding of the continent’s political landscapes is crucial. “There is an increased acknowledgement of white supremacist logic affecting Latin American countries, both historically and in the present moment, resulting in more explicit conversations around race, class, and Indigenous struggles for autonomy,” she said.

In terms of the media art that is attracting her interest, Crockett is looking forward to the transnational conversations that the Sharjah Biennial and São Paulo Bienal will provoke. Stateside, she is excited by the major video and media exhibitions taking place at MoMA and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth later this year, as well as Isaac Julien’s survey at Tate Britain and Ja’Tovia Gary’s solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery.

Eileen Jung

Curator, Bronx Museum

New York

Portrait of Eileen Jung. Courtesy of the Bronx Museum.

Eileen Jung predicts that land art, Indigeneity, and immersive art practices will take center stage in 2023. In particular, she pointed to artists who use conceptual art to navigate history and memory, including Firelei Báez, Chloë Bass, Maria Berrio, Andrea Chung, Joana Choumali, Sean Desiree, Abigail DeVille, Anaïs Duplan, Scherezade García, Guadalupe Maravilla, Daniel Lie, and Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow. Jung added, “Each of these artists have unique perspectives and contributions, and through their work, they’ve introduced a level of newness and depth to the overall artistic zeitgeist.”

Jung further elaborated that artists who provide counternarratives to the dominant historical record, and push the boundaries of their medium across abstract and figurative painting as well as sculpture, will continue to set the trends. She specifically noted the practices of Derek Fordjour, Tomashi Jackson, Sara Jimenez, Anina Major, Natalia Nakazawa, Angel Otero, Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Amina Ross, Tariku Shiferaw, Jean Shin, and Saya Woolfalk. Jung added that the critical scholarship of Lisa Lowe, Anna L. Tsing, and Saidiya Hartman will continue to inform artistic pulses.

She remains excited for new rediscoveries in 2023, like how ceramics has been in recent years. “Another area that is often overlooked are those artists who are self-taught, often labeled as ‘outsider artists’ (e.g., those whose work does not reflect an overt influence from the mainstream art world), and are bringing a new energy to the field,” Jung wrote to Artsy.

Jesse Firestone

Curator, Montclair State Galleries

Montclair, New Jersey

Portrait of Jesse Firestone by Jenna Bascom Photography, LLC’s Associate Photographer Nelson. Courtesy of Montclair State Galleries.

Jesse Firestone is on the lookout for more genre-breaking art in 2023. In particular, they point to outsider art practices—like using humor or making provocative works with unconventional material and subject matter—as big trends for the year. “I think performance artists who embrace failure while taking their work seriously, but aren’t self-serious, will receive a lot more attention,” they said. “There is a lot to learn from this type of work and I think people are hungry to see how we can work with imperfection, messiness, and unpredictability. 2023 is a year of embracing risk.”

Firestone’s attention to risk comes out of crypto art’s tumultuous year in 2022. The incredibly rapid rise and subsequent fall of NFTs have demonstrated that, while artists will continue to innovate art with new technology, some trends might crash as fast and they rose. Firestone believes that artists will continue to learn from the market and reflect upon the failures of these experiences in their work. Because of the NFT crash, Firestone sees physical media art, or art that embraces the body, as major for 2023. This is work they actively support as a curator: “Ultimately I like being able to provide artists with the space to stretch, take risks, and succeed in those efforts,” Firestone said.

Rachel Vera Steinberg

Curator, Smack Mellon

New York

Portrait of Rachel Vera Steinberg by Inna Svyatsky. Courtesy of Smack Mellon.

Rachel Vera Steinberg is excited for a greater number of artists to further deepen the mystery of art production across sculpture and computer-generated art. She is inspired by artists who push the boundaries of the medium they are working in, as well as the space in which they exhibit. She cited the work of Emily Clayton, Tomi Faison, and Charisse Pearlina Weston as key examples. Steinberg also anticipates more conceptually driven work in relation to text- and discourse-based art, like K Allado-McDowell’s recent book Amor Cringe (2022), which was co-written with AI software.

Additionally, Steinberg predicts that last year’s challenges around systemic injustice will usher in artists addressing class and social equity in the art world. “One of the most impactful trends from this past year was the proliferation of AI image generators,” she said. “It’s hard to forecast this as a direction, but it has the potential to further call into question images as receptacles of meaning.”

Separately, Steinberg believes that more artworks inspired by religion will reach the fore in 2023. “I feel like we are entering a moment of reconsidering religion, inclusive of, but also beyond, its relationship to spirituality,” she explained. “I see this formally in visual symbols and materiality: For example, in the way an artist like Tammy Nguyen incorporates metal leaf to reference illuminated manuscripts, but also in other modes of production that are trending, such as a heightened interest in metal work.”

Zoé Whitley

Director, Chisenhale Gallery

London

Portrait of Zoé Whitley by James Gifford-Mead. Courtesy of Zoé Whitley.

Zoé Whitley is looking to painters who are embracing unconventional materials or pushing the limits of their painting practice to render something vibrantly different and new. “The artists who currently inspire me defy genre expectations,” she said.

Furthermore, Whitley is looking forward to artists collaborating more with nonprofit organizations. She hopes that these partnerships, and their accompanying resources, will support ambitious art practices and culminate into long-running exhibitions that a greater number of viewers will be able to see and experience.

These later points are greatly influenced by Tricia Hersey’s manifesto Rest is Resistance (2022) and Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1997), which both argue for a process of slowing down with media materials to allow for their presence to be felt, haunting the audience.

Ayanna Dozier

Ayanna Dozier is Artsy’s Staff Writer.

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Tom Sachs Reveals New McDonald's Public Art – HYPEBEAST

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Over the weekend, contemporary visionary Tom Sachs took to Instagram to reveal a new public art piece.

Sachs is taking street art to the next level, showcasing the process of his “Enamel on Trailer” piece that he painted on the side of a red trailer in the middle of Connecticut. The post features a series of images of Sachs painting his own rendition of the McDonald’s golden arches and branding. The piece includes signage on the bottom right corner of the trailer and appears to be dated in 2022. A closer look sees that Sachs finds perfection in imperfection as paint leaves streaks from the dripping.

The caption of the Instagram also showcases the dimension as well as the location of the piece — Max Power Motors in New Milford, Connecticut, and is “on display 24/7.” The post also shows a Google Map zoom in on where Max Power Motors is located in the world, giving fans who might be interested or passing by, a chance to view the work.

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Take a look below.

In other art news, here is an official look at Jahan Loh’s Doraemon Sofubi toys.


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