A reason AI (Artificial Intelligence) recently became prominent is a famous Go (Baduk) player, Lee Sedol and his AI counterpart, AlphaGo. AI is now pushing back the frontiers of art. Representatively in 2018, the portrait painted by AI Obvious, was sold for 490 million won. This occurrence, that an AI painting was sold at a much higher price than Andy Warhol’s paintings shocked people at the time. Also, in 2019, human artist ‘Doomin’ and robot ‘AI Imagine’ collaborated to create artwork. It is evident that AI is increasingly used as a new genre in the art world. Can AI paintings be called works of art? The CBT reporters will try to divide the issue into pros and cons and induce the reader to think for themselves.
Marcel Duchamp, the artist of ‘Fountain’, said:
“There is nothing wrong with the toilets that you can find every day in the store’s showcase. It doesn’t matter if you made artworks directly with your hands or not. By selecting and displaying ordinary objects, you can create new ones.”
The first reason why AI works cannot be work of art is that art stems from mental behavior, and the results of AI, which is incapable of subjective thinking, can never be artworks. The philosopher Theodor Lipps describes the artist as the artistic subject who helps the audience with his or her talents to understand the artworks well. “Ästhetik: Psychologie des Schönen und der Kunst (; Aesthetics: the psychology of beauty and art) by Theodor Lipps, 1906.” Therefore, the arts present a social problem as it is, and cannot be regarded as exchanging materials with nature, and use virtuality to compare it to the natural world. The audience who appreciates artworks notices the ideological context which is minding virtually. According to Theodor’s view, supposing that the artistic subject is AI, means that it undertakes a process of selecting the data provided based on the algorithm set by the developer, and extracts the result of the calculation. In this process, the artistic subject AI manages the final step ‘deduction of result’ without considering the result’s intention and purpose by itself. In a nutshell, AI is just a machine.
In a similar case, Kang Min-suk, and Ju Jung-woo, “Study on AI Creation in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution -Focusing on the Recognition of Artists(Journal of the Korean Digital Content Society, 2020)”, gave more than 30 artists in a group of experts a questionnaire to investigate accurate perceptions. Among the responders, 40% of denials responded strongly to the questionnaire items regarding ‘Is the creator’s subjectivity in the AI work?’ Many research participants indicated that AI work production was a passive rather than an active creation. This is a simple passive work that is structurally close to each other based on AI work production and data analysis. It means that we recognize that there is essentially no artistry in the production activities. In other words, AI technology is not enough to create artworks.
The second reason why AI-produced results cannot be recognized as artworks is the public has an attribute that wants to resist change. This means the public is still not familiar with accepting AI as a part of the arts. While referring to the innovation resistance model, “Artificial Intelligence Containment Research in Art Creation (Lee Jae-park, Dissertation of the University of Estimate Arts, 2019)”, he writes as follows.
“Humans do not want to change habits, so they resist innovation. Attempts to maintain are much more common among people. Habits do not refer to the end-resulting behavior, but to the system as a collective term for all processes leading up to that behavior. The more fixed the current habits, the greater the resistance to change and innovation. Most consumers tend to maintain their status quo ‘Resistance to change’ which is a natural reaction visible to most consumers of new ideas, practices, and products. The resistance to change is defined as ‘every act that tries to keep the status quo about the pressure which brings the change to status quo’, it is judged an attitude that the innovation resistance is not to adopt the innovation.”
The public still wants to resist the opinion about considering the AI work as an artwork that used to be human’s own area because of an unfamiliar feeling. Therefore, more time should be taken and it is early to recognize AI’s results as artworks for now.
When the ‘Fountain’ came out, New York Dadaists (; art activists who rejected established authority, morality, form, etc.) published the followings which argue the Fountain’s justification of artistic value in ‘The Blind Man (The Blind Man, No.2, New York, 1917, by Louise Norton).’
“Whether Mr. Mutt (Marcel Duchamp’s artist name at that time) with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.”
Contrary to the opinions of the public and the association at the time, the Dadaists insisted on their opinion that the value of arts originates from an artist’s mental activities such as intention and purpose. The Dadaists’ view, which didn’t exist before, gave a new insight to the public regarding art.
Paik Nam-june, a performance artist who employs various art forms created works of art, including numerous media based on technological science. He was famous for art performances, using television and video. These days, work of art created by AI, pioneer a new genre of art such as Paik Nam June’s innovative video art.
The first basis of the argument that, ‘AI-produced paintings is a work of art’ is that the stream of times has changed. Therefore, the range of art and technology is ambiguous. In the past, humans created 100% of art. However, in 2021, under the development of technology, skills can create art. Professor Jin Ik-song, Department of Formative Arts, in CBNU said that “Today’s art is rapidly turned to science spirit, tearing the limits of range. Also, technology based on science and development essentially functions in artistic creation. Therefore, there will be a sudden change in human civilization by scientific technique. Thus, artists will accept scientific technique as a new sensibility, and human identity will be reestablished by creating a new culture. Humans always dreamed in post-human time, and the advance of science must redefine human identity at a fast pace as humans imagined in post human time. However I think the discomfort of the gap between these two is only a phenomenon of relative acceptance of the ‘speed of change’ and artistic sensitivity cannot be thought apart from scientific technology.” In other words, the times of blending art and scientific technology have come, It’s needed to look at the wide range of art. Therefore, It’s needed to recognize painting produced by AI as works of art.
The second basis of the argument is that the artist can use AI as a tool of art, developing new fields of art. Professor Jin Ik-song, Department of Formative Arts, in CBNU, said that “AI is coveting the realm of art that has been considered exclusively human, and I think this will fundamentally change the nature and structure of art that has been considered exclusively human. The combination of technology and art will give us something new. Recently, many artists do the creation of work, using AI. This is an attempt to put the artist’s heart and soul into the process by using the production of AI. In this manner, AI has infinite possibilities to use as a great medium for creative activities, having artistic value. Pierre Fautrel, a member of the research team, developing AI Obvious said that “The painting drawn by machine can be a work of art. The algorithm made an image, but the algorithm was made by human. Therefore, AI can be regarded as a work of art, but AI is only a tool as a medium for creating works of art. Because creative algorithms are also based on the creator’s orders, the point of art is the designed creator’s intention and interpretation rather than the product’s method and process. In my opinion, AI will be a magnificent tool in the very near future, and it will give birth to a new genre of art. Also, AI is expected to complement the artist’s work rather than deprive their position, while its art is expected to expand the domain of art expression and open a new art market. Also, the art market, hitherto limited to artists and art specialists, will be expanded to ordinary people in terms of creation, consumption, and distribution of art.” Therefore, by using AI as one medium, people could encounter works of art, which they have never seen. Therefore, in fast-changing times, we need to have an open mind and extensive view, regarding AI-produced paintings as a part of the art genre.
The definition of art has changed over time. The new AI is causing continuous change throughout the entire society and raising questions about art. The advent of AI brought about an inevitable reconsideration or art, and there will certainly be an ongoing debate. Whether AI’s result will be just a result of AI to be ignored or an artwork to be admired, that is the question. Both positions set their own rational standards of art and provide different perspectives for AI and art. What do you think about these? Do you think that AI, which is a complex set of algorithms, set by humans, can become a part of the culture of art that humans have enjoyed independently?