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Is the Panic Over AI Art Overblown? We Speak With Artists and Experts. – VICE



Zhang Wei, a Chinese freelance illustrator with eight years of experience, took up a gig in October to draw characters for novels. The company needed 65 sketches and offered 120 yuan ($17.70) for each. After Zhang filed his first draft, the client was pleased and paid him right away.


Yet days later, Zhang was told his services were no longer needed—the company had decided to replace him with an AI tool. To add insult to injury, he was even shown the artwork generated with the new technology. “It was pretty good,” Zhang told Chinese outlet Guokr last month, speaking under a pseudonym. More importantly, with the AI tool, each image cost the company only 2 cents.

Zhang’s experience underscores growing fears in the creative industry in China and beyond that artists could lose their jobs to AI text-to-image generators, such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E—which have taken the internet by storm in recent months.

On Chinese social media, some artists have supported a campaign on ArtStation, a networking and portfolio site, to protest the presence and proliferation of AI-generated images. They echoed calls to boycott these tools by not sharing their output and not allowing AI companies to use their work to train AI. Others shared hidden watermarks that would supposedly prevent their work from being used to develop new AI models. 

One seasoned artist, known as Hua Yecai, even went further and pledged that he would never use AI tools in his illustrations. “I produce all my works by myself, one stroke at a time. If a client asks me to use AI to generate art, I’ll turn down the job. If it’s a company, I’ll quit,” he wrote on China’s Quora-like platform Zhihu, suggesting AI could squeeze out young creatives who have yet to establish themselves.

This sentiment is part of a wider pushback against AI art globally. In Japan, Netflix’s use of AI for the background art of a new short film drew backlash from anime workers. In the U.S., artists debated whether an author owns the copyright to a graphic novel made of pictures generated from written prompts. In December, director Guillermo del Toro even slammed animation created with machines as “an insult to life itself.” This growing resistance to AI-generated content isn’t limited to art—some news publishers faulted OpenAI this month for using their articles to train its popular ChatGPT service, and software developers sued Microsoft in November for allegedly pirating human programmers’ work.

There’s no telling where the AI debate will lead, but few would dispute the technology’s ability to disrupt the creative process as we know it.

“What actually took your job isn’t AI, but the operator who uses the tool to increase their productivity and create artwork more effectively,” Xi Qiao, a Canada-based digital artist, told VICE World News.

“You no longer need to undergo years of formal training in art to acquire the skills, you only need to write prompts and grasp the rules of these models,” Xi said, adding that it is only a matter of time before AI tools produce polished iterations that rival those of humans.

Xi has worked with a team of developers to build Kalos.Art, a platform for AI enthusiasts to showcase and sell their work. To take it further, they’re creating a database that compares the practical abilities of different AI models and provides information on prompt engineering, the process of writing input used to generate an image.

Despite the potential of such tools, there remains a heated dispute over the dataset developers used to train the models, a fight which is playing out in court. Stock photo provider Getty Images is suing Stability AI, the developer of Stable Diffusion, for copyright infringement over its use of 12 million photos in the creation of the image generator. 

Last month, a trio of artists also launched a class action lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney, and the art-sharing hub DeviantArt, which released its own AI-powered tool, DreamUp. The three plaintiffs—Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz—alleged that these groups have violated the rights of millions of artists by using their work to inform the platforms’ algorithms without the consent of the original artists. In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Stability AI said the company takes these matters seriously. “Anyone that believes that this isn’t fair use does not understand the technology and misunderstands the law,” the spokesperson said

The outcomes of these lawsuits have huge implications on ownership in the age of AI, but they could take years to resolve. There’s also the bigger question of whether these legal frameworks themselves are too outdated to apply. 

“The technology is moving a lot more quickly than law than the legal system. And I just don’t think there’s a matchup between what’s actually happening and what copyright and intellectual property law talks about,” Brendan Murphy, a lecturer in digital media at the CQUniversity of Australia, told VICE World News.

Ziv Epstein, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab who studies the intersection of humans and technology, said the legal implications come down to three questions. Is the training data something that can be fairly used? If you were to train a model, is the output copyrightable? The third is who would own that copyright—the people making the models, the people inputting the prompts, or those whose artwork in the dataset is closest to the output?

“We don’t have a clear answer to that,” Epstein said. His 2020 study found that the degree to which people anthropomorphize AI—essentially endowing it with human-like characteristics—affects how they allocate credit to human actors involved in the production of an artwork. 

“There’s actually a lot of human labor and human care that goes into these processes,” he said. “When you anthropomorphize the AI, that actually works to undermine the kind of perceived role of the human and the credit or responsibility of the human.” 

Viewing AI as tools wielded by humans, instead of agents acting on their own, is a step in the right direction. Yet this is still not entirely accurate, Epstein continued. “It’s a new medium. It’s a diffuse socio-technical system with a lot of human actors and computational processes, all interacting in some very complex way,” he said.

According to Epstein, this means it’s not sufficient to rely just on courts to iron out these disputes. “That’s where we need more both technical and social research, understanding how these things work, how people feel about them, and then we can make those decisions based on good science,” Epstein said. “Because right now, we’re just really at the brink of the beginning.”

Follow Rachel Cheung on Twitter and Instagram.

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Children Who Are Exposed to Awe-Inspiring Art Are More Likely to Become Generous, Empathic Adults, a New Study Says



Want to raise kind, generous kids? Take them to the art museum!

The feeling of awe inspired by great art, it turns out, can be a humbling experience that encourages kids to help others, rather than focusing on their own needs.

“In encounters with vast mysteries, awe makes individuals feel small, humble, and less entitled, thereby shifting their attention toward the needs and concerns of others rather than the self,” read a new study in Psychological Science.

Lead author Eftychia Stamkou, of the department of psychology at the University of Amsterdam, decided to investigate the effects of experiencing awe on children after realizing the feeling had been extensively studied in adults, where it led to less self-entitlement and greater generosity. Stamkou’s study, which included 159 volunteers aged 8 to 13, suggests the results are much the same for kids, reports Inc.


Participants watched short movie clips designed to elicit either joy, awe, or a neutral response—the wine-drinking scene from Fantasia, a clip from Song of the Sea in which a character turns into a seal, and an instructional video about painting walls or making coffee, respectively.

A child looks at a giant rabbit lantern at the China National Arts and Crafts Museum and China Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum ahead of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit on January 14, 2023 in Beijing, China. Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

A child looks at a giant rabbit lantern at the China National Arts and Crafts Museum and China Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum ahead of Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit on January 14, 2023 in Beijing, China. Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

Researchers then asked the children to complete an easy but time-consuming task of counting items for a food drive for families in need, or, instead, if they would be willing to donate the art museum tickets or chocolate snacks they were supposed to receive for participating in the study to a refugee family.

“Children who watched the awe-inspiring video chose to count 50 percent more items for the food drive than children who watched the joy-inspiring clip and more than twice as many items as children who watched the neutral clip. Children in the awe-inspiring condition were also two to three times more likely to donate their study rewards than children in the joyful or neutral conditions,” the Association for Psychological Science blog reported.

“Awe, an aesthetic and moral emotion, helps societies flourish by making children more generous,” the study claimed. “Our research is the first to demonstrate that awe-eliciting art can spark prosociality in children.”

A girl attends the exhibition "Pipilotti Rist : Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You", a new large-scale, site-specific installation by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, on November 18, 2022. Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images.

A girl attends the exhibition “Pipilotti Rist : Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You”, a new large-scale, site-specific installation by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist at the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, on November 18, 2022. Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images.

Though the researchers didn’t use famous paintings or sculptures to evoke awe in the study, they did note that their findings could help prove that art can offer benefits to society as a whole, not just to the individual.

If awe-inspiring art really does encourage people to act more selflessly, it would counter “the still-common perception that art has hardly any real-world consequences on human behavior because art experiences are bracketed in imaginary, non-real worlds,” read the study. “Our research provides concrete evidence for art’s behavioral consequences on outcomes that promote other people’s well-being.”



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The art of picking the perfect colour



Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.

Sometimes I fret for days about what to ask an interview subject. But when I heard that I had time with Amy Hoban, who headed design teams for Ralph Lauren and Shabby Chic before becoming Chief Creative Officer for California-based lifestyle brand Parachute, I knew we would talk about colour.

That’s because I’ve been struck by Ms. Hoban’s unerring, uncanny knack for colour across all those brands. It seemed a home décor crime not to ask her about how to choose, mix, and compliment hues and textures.

Already familiar — and a fan of — the line’s loamy browns and friendly, versatile blues, and pitch-perfect stone, bone, and creamy neutrals, I started with a question about a new Melon shade — a departure for the brand but a delight for those who of us love peachy pinks.

“Melon is a bit riskier because it’s farther out of our own identity,” Amy Hoban says. “But we wanted to speak to the warmer side of the palette that would work (with existing colours) like Clay, which is a really strong performer.”

There’s a mid-tone Wave blue that’s also new, and which can make a moody anchor or crisp accent, and compliment other blue-greys in the line.

In adding to the palette, Hoban considered the cheerful postmodernist colour blocking that’s gaining popularity, whimsical curved furniture, and Memphis movement elements that blend Art Deco and Pop Art.

A little Rococo design, she suggests, may be a natural reaction to hard times and humorless spaces. “The concept for 2023 was about being fun, playful —the feeling of lightness. As a collective mass, we were ready for optimism.”

That meant reviewing a palette grounded in saturated tones like the earthy Terra, and Coal. “We wanted to lighten ourselves up, so to add buoyancy we Introduced two new colours that work with what we already have,” she says. “For example, Wave was a friend to Dusk, which was a hugely successful colour for us.”

Ms. Hoban is in the lucky position of constantly testing and trying new products. “Right now I have our new Bone brushed cotton and fresh cotton sheeting in Bone. Then Bone linen top of bed and shams. It’s all one colour but different fabrication, so it’s a sophisticated, layered look. And working with different colours and patterns all day, it’s nice to come home to something that’s just a little quieter but isn’t white,” she explains.

Bone can also “cross-pollinate” with colour, she says, suggesting perhaps a woven quilt in Haze — a soft violet that’s just a little lighter than Clover (think purple clover) — or other textured elements in the same family. I’d also like to see the new Wave blue against those gentle purple shades.

Homeowners can immediately refresh a space by switching out even small pieces like pillowcases, Amy Hoban says, advising contrasting colours for drama, or using the same tone in different textures and weaves to exude calm.

For extra comfort and colour, consider a plump body pillow with a Vintage Linen pillowcase in bold Cobalt blue. New colours in velvet covers coming this fall promise to be equally dreamy.

Consumers are ready to invest in bedding as the idea of responsible indulgence takes hold, suggests Ms. Hoban. “Self-care is a huge trend, as it should be. People are more educated about which fabrics and construction will provide a good night’s sleep,” she says, adding that consumers also care that the brand doesn’t use harmful chemicals, pays fair wages, and uses sustainable, traceable sources for flax and cotton.

Amy Hoban hopes customers experience and enjoy the positivity new colours are meant to express. In the meantime, she says she’s “just grateful to have fun along the way, and to show customers it doesn’t have to be too serious.”

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and



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Mix of contemporary, historical Indigenous craftwork in Winnipeg exhibit shows art ‘still living and thriving’



A new exhibit in Winnipeg blends the old with the new to show that while Indigenous craftwork has a rich history, it’s also still very much a living artform.

The exhibit, called Gathering, features Indigenous beadwork, embroidery and quillwork from five contemporary artists alongside pieces from the collections of 11 Manitoba museums — with some items dating back to the 1800s.

Mixing contemporary pieces in with the historical ones is an important element of the exhibit, says Margaret Firlotte, a Red River Michif artist and the exhibit’s project manager.

“This art form is not gone, it’s not archaic, it’s not archived. It’s still living and thriving today,” she said.


The exhibit — presented by the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library in partnership with the Ross House Museum — also offers a rare opportunity to see some of the historical work on display.

Smaller museums in Manitoba often have Indigenous craftwork that’s not on permanent display, or which requires a one-on-one appointment to view, Firlotte said.

“We wanted to honour those pieces, and bring them to light, and just give them the proper space and respect that they deserve.”

A woman smiles to the camera. Behind her, there are several pairs of moccasins displayed.
The exhibit has a particular focus on pieces made before or around the early 1900s, because the artistic patterns from that era contain many cultural, familial and regional ties, says project manager Margaret Firlotte. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC)

Andrea Reichert, the exhibit’s curator, said an important part of the outreach for it included informal viewing sessions of the pieces for Indigenous communities.

“It was an opportunity for them to see it up close, to compare things side by side,” she told CBC.

Preparation for the exhibit began about a year ago, but Firlotte said she wouldn’t call her work on it a “labour of love.”

“Labour is the wrong word, because if you enjoy beadwork, working alongside with these pieces and with the communities, then it’s not really work,” she said.

Putting the exhibit together involved extensive research and outreach to museums and Indigenous communities in western and northern Manitoba.

Artwork from museums in Dauphin, Portage la Prairie, Souris, The Pas and Winnipegosis is displayed in the exhibit, alongside works from several Winnipeg museums.

Beadworks are pictured.
Five contemporary artists created work inspired by the exhibit, including this beadwork by Bronwyn Butterfield, David Heinrichs and Shauna Ponask. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC)

The exhibit, which opened on March 3, has drawn visitors from Alberta and British Columbia who came just to see the artwork, along with strong local support, said Firlotte.

“Opening night, just seeing the community come together to welcome and celebrate these pieces, it was really great. It just made it all worth it, for sure.”

Exhibit may help put names to work

The exhibit is the first time Tashina Houle-Schlup’s work has been displayed in an art show. Her quilled moccasins are called Abinoojiiyens Makizinan, which translates to “baby moccasins” in Anishinaabemowin.

The Ebb and Flow First Nation member has been making quillwork since she was a child. She began to sell her pieces as a teenager, but never imagined being featured in an art exhibit.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling and it makes me want to do more of these,” she said.

A pair of quilled, baby mocassins are pictured.
Abinoojiiyens Makizinan were made in honour of Indigenous children, ‘as they are the future of our people,’ as well as in ‘remembrance of our babies and children that were lost to residential school,’ Tashina Houle-Schlup’s artist statement says. (Submitted by Andrea Reichert)

The mix of contemporary and historical pieces in the exhibit shows that Indigenous crafts aren’t going anywhere, Houle-Schlup told CBC.

“Quillwork is still thriving. There was a point where quillwork was nearly disappearing.”

Her moccasins were made in honour of Indigenous children, “as they are the future of our people,” says Houle-Schlup’s artist statement, as well as in “remembrance of our babies and children that were lost to residential school.”

An embroidered jacket is pictured.
This embroidered, smoked-hide jacket was created by women in Norway House between 1910 and 1920. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC)

Reichert says in addition to offering historical perspective, the exhibit may also help curators learn more about some of the pieces.

The names of the artists behind many of the historical pieces — such as an embroidered smoked-hide jacket made by women from Norway House between 1910 and 1920 — have been lost, which is not uncommon, Reichert said.

QR codes are displayed throughout the exhibit that will let people submit any information they may have on the historical pieces or the artists behind them.

“When the works go back to the different museums, the research that we’ve collected will go back to those museums as well,” said Reichert.

“Reconciliation and decolonization is an important part of the museum community, and being able to interpret the works with correct information is a really important first step.”

Public programming and a long-term website with photos and research collected on the pieces are also part of the exhibit.

Two beaded tikinagans are shown.
The exhibit welcomes visitors to submit information they may have on the historical works or the artists behind them — many of whose names have been lost, according to curator Andrea Reichert. (Özten Shebahkeget/CBC)

The exhibit has a particular focus on pieces made before or around the early 1900s, because the artistic patterns from that era contain many cultural, familial and regional ties, according to Firlotte.

“You’re able to tell which pattern comes from which community, which is really cool,” she said. “You’re able to tell if a piece is probably more Métis than it is Dakota, or if it’s Cree or Anishinaabe.”

Response to the exhibit has been fantastic, said Reichert.

“All of the people who come have just been blown away by the work, and the breadth of it, and seeing it all in one place.”

Gathering is on display at the C2 Centre for Craft at 329 Cumberland Ave. until April 29.


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