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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bastianelli

Art, AI, and Subjectivity: A Broader Perspective

This is my personal viewpoint after reading this article by Kalhan Rosenblatt:


The debate over AI's role in art, particularly in the case of Keith Haring's "Unfinished Painting," demands a broader perspective. The ethical implications of using AI in 'what if' scenarios are indeed subjective. To dismiss AI-generated art based on a single instance is to overlook the vast potential of this medium. The original article's claim that AI-generated images are not art is a narrow view that fails to consider the subjective nature of art itself.

Furthermore, even if Haring's work were trained into an AI model, it would not replace the artist's unique vision and expression. The notion that all AI art forms are identical is unfounded, especially since the article didn't specify which AI model or process was used. This lack of specificity further weakens the argument against AI in art.

In essence, AI in art represents a curiosity, an exploration into new realms of creativity. It's crucial to recognize that AI-generated art, like all art, is subjective. Dismissing it entirely based on one example is not just an oversight but a refusal to acknowledge the evolving landscape of artistic expression.

The controversy surrounding AI's alteration of Keith Haring's "Unfinished Painting" has sparked a necessary debate on AI's place in art. Criticisms of AI-generated art often lack a balanced perspective, ignoring the evolving nature of art and the potential of technology as a creative tool. Art is inherently subjective, and dismissing AI creations as non-artistic risks stifling a new form of artistic expression. The ethics of using AI in 'what if' scenarios are also subjective.

Even if Haring's work was transformed by AI, it would never replace the artist's unique vision. The original article's failure to specify the AI model or process used further weakens its argument against AI in art. AI in art should be viewed as a curiosity, an exploration into new realms of creativity, rather than a threat to traditional art forms. The dismissal of AI-generated art based on a single example is an oversight, overlooking the rich potential of this emerging medium.

The criticism of the individual who used AI to reimagine Haring's work as homophobic or insensitive is a subjective judgment. Without knowing the individual's intent, such accusations are baseless and arguably more harmful than the act of exploring AI's capabilities. This scenario raises questions about the quickness to judge in the digital age. Interestingly, this AI experiment also inadvertently brought renewed attention to Haring's unfinished work, highlighting its historical and cultural significance.

Comparing this with how major film studios dramatize historical events, like the Titanic sinking or war stories, offers a relevant parallel. These dramatizations, while often criticized for historical inaccuracies, are generally accepted as a form of artistic expression. They also serve to educate and generate interest in the actual events. Similarly, using AI to explore 'what if' scenarios in art can stimulate discussion and awareness, despite the potential for controversy.

Around August of 2022 I experimented with DALL-E 2 to create images reminiscent of Diane Arbus's style. This personal exploration highlighted the complex interplay between AI and artistic representation. Although initially driven by curiosity, I've come to understand the potential insensitivity of such endeavors. This experience underscores the nuances in AI's role in art. It's a learning curve, reflecting the broader ethical and creative challenges we face as AI continues to intersect with the realms of traditional artistry. My journey, like the AI alteration of Haring's work, speaks to the evolving conversation about respect, authenticity, and the artist's intent in the age of AI.

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