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INK NOW
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Artificial Intelligence and Art
WRITER
INK NOW Editorial Team
DATE
2019/01/04

The debut of INK NOW Art Journal was born with our vision of self-media and "More than Art Fair, More than Ink". Apart from issuing paper version of INK NOW Art Journal, we will run our own website - www.ink- Now.com, a multifaceted art platform combines academic exchanges, collector's engagement, curated online exhibitions, and art journal. Integrating online and offline resources to promote ink art and ink-related culture.

 

Another market-driven milestone in artificial intelligence took place at an auction in late October 2018, when an AI-generated oil painting was sold at forty-five times more than its estimated price. AI was once just a fad, because no one believed it could succeed. You may wonder how a machine (actually, today’s artificial intelligence can exist online, without a physical reality) could imitate human intelligence, but today, it exists as a part of our lives, as AI enters realms such as the game of go, medicine, art, literature and music. Today, AI art is no longer just a dream, but a topic of discussion in our time. In the post-Kantian era, where there is no universal, direct aesthetic narratives, but the transformation of visual language in the digital era, we face a question, which is whether we need an entirely new artistic language and means of discussion, and whether artificial intelligence will subvert “art.”

Victor Wong and A.I. Gemini Escapism 0001 Ink on Paper 2018 (3812 Gallery)

At a time when we are often too attached to the logic of cinema and science fiction novels (I know you're thinking about Black Mirror and Isaac Asimov) in pondering the possible negative effects of artificial intelligence, there are two misconceptions we need to clear up first:


- The misconception that artificial intelligence is human intelligence. This is a classic “map versus terrain” misconception. The map is just one possible way of “seeing.” When we are actually situated in a place, we find discrepancies with the map. This is the same reason cooking shows can't fill our bellies. Artificial intelligence only imitates one mode (rather than all modes) of human thought: quantification, formulation and rationalisation.
- Artificial intelligence, big data, total automation and even augmented reality are types of mediums. They should not be seen as the be-all and end-all. Instagram, Facebook, film and photography have all, to some extent, mediated us. The emergence of photography challenged human image reproduction technology, and film replaced our eyes, but these challenges never caused art to disappear. To the contrary, art absorbed them and transformed them into its own nourishment.

Victor Wong and A.I. Gemini Escapism 0022 Ink on Paper 118 x 46 cm 2018 (3812 Gallery)

What kind of attitude should we take in approaching the discussion of artificial intelligence and art? In other countries, artificial intelligence tends toward conceptual art, but as soon as a human element is involved, it produces works of art with cultural characteristics. Take, for example, the series of ink paintings created by Victor Wong and AI Gemini, which are presented in INK NOW. A programmed robot can produce landscape paintings with Chinese aesthetic spirit. Looking at the AI synthesized oil paintings created abroad, they are all results of machine learning, but they lack an expression of humanity. The concept of “Eastern Origin in Contemporary Expression” highlighted by INK NOW arises from just such a process of change and inheritance. In our “contemporary” times, when all conditions of society and reality have changed, how can ink art express an Eastern aesthetic spirit? Victor Wong's Horses series, a collaboration with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Xu Beihong's son, is a perfect example. His current collaboration with AI Gemini is another. On a broader level, the establishment of INK NOW is also a response to these questions.

Victor Wong and A.I. Gemini Escapism 0023 Ink on Paper 118 x 46 cm 2018 (3812 Gallery)

At the heart of each crisis lies an opportunity for self-reflection. At a time when the subject is being outsourced to such information technologies as Instagram, Facebook and Wechat, it is ever more important for us to think courageously. We will soon be dazzled by yet another wave of Artificial Intelligence. Due to limitations of space, I will simply offer a few possible issues here:
- The issue of creative attribution. Can an AI without self-awareness be called an artist?
- At this current stage, AI Gemini is more like a craftsman’s painter. Even though it possesses the ability of free creation, it still requires human assistance. Could AI Gemini one day become a literati gentleman?
- We can teach an artificial intelligence the style of a particular artist and see what kind of “creative interpretation” arises. This is more interesting than aimless mechanical learning.

Victor Wong and A.I. Gemini Escapism 0020 Ink on Paper 118 x 46 cm 2018 (3812 Gallery)

But will artificial intelligence subvert “art”? Art has actually faced the threat of being “subverted” many times, one such instance being the transition from traditional to modern: the overturning of “art” was completed long ago with Marcel Duchamp's “readymade.” Another was the debate over modernisation in the East. What can subvert art is not a machine, but mankind itself. The power to build and destroy is in our own hands. As for the new type of art created by the combination of purely rational creative machines and humans, who are both emotional and rational, we will call it, for now, “art-technoism.” Will such art lack individuality? Just as the dialectical of “seeing the mountain as a mountain” tells us, once art is able to negate itself, it must use defamiliarisation to turn back and recognise its own traditions, and go from “seeing art as not art” back to “seeing art as art.”

Victor Wong and A.I. Gemini Escapism 0021 Ink on Paper 118 x 46 cm 2018 (3812 Gallery)

 

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