Germany’s first AI-generated exhibition questions human art

From the idea to the finished work of art, the creative process usually takes weeks and sometimes even years. However, an exhibition that started in February was almost entirely created by artificial intelligence in just a few weeks. Among other things, you can see Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. It is one of more than 80 paintings that the museums in Bad Oeynhausen and Rinteln are showing in their double exhibition “All Art! Masterpieces of Artificial Intelligence” in man-sized illuminated frames. Next to them are Puss in Boots practicing fencing and one of grinning robbers surrounded king shown after the example of baroque masters.

For the images, an order was given to the AI ​​image generator Midjourney and sometimes an art style such as “Cubism” was also specified. Midjourney then generated one or more images depending on whether the result was satisfactory or not. The title of the image was chosen by humans. The text AI Neuroflash has come up with a text for the painting.

AI exhibition in the Fairy Tale Museum

Frau Holle (Image: Municipal Museums Bad Oeynhausen)

“All of these images are commissioned works,” said Dr. Hendrik Tieke on heise online. He is director of the German Fairy Tale and Weser Sagen Museum in Bad Oeynhausen and one of the two curators of the exhibition. “We communicated our wishes to the AI ​​in the form of a few key points. Depending on how satisfied we were with the result, we decided on a suggestion or requested others: just as the noble clients of the great masters used to do.” . The background music, a video installation and descriptive texts were also created by AI.

According to Tieke, the only difference was that the creative processes of the artists often took weeks or months, while those of the text-to-image generator Midjourney were finished after just a few minutes. “With our exhibition, we want to show what artificial intelligence is now capable of,” says Dr. Stefan Meyer from the Eulenburg Museum in Rinteln.

It is still noticeable that some works do not come from humans. A closer look reveals artifacts such as a sixth finger on a hand or a three-wheeled skateboard. Some of the explanatory texts would not stand up to a fact check. However, the curators of the exhibition note that the development of the AI-generated images and texts is still in its infancy.

In addition to Midjourney for the images and Neuroflash for the generated texts, an AI was also used for the background music. This came from the AI ​​artist Malgu, created using the audio AIs MuseNet, AIVA and Humtap. The videos shown in the exhibition come from the AI ​​artists from the USA and Belgium.

Tieke explained that AI is already producing works that are equal to those of humans. The exhibition therefore poses the question: Will AI make artists, graphic designers, writers or composers superfluous in the future? Tieke does not believe that AI will replace artists: “AI is another tool for producing art. In any case, it cannot be denied that AI art is sometimes indistinguishable from human art and can be just as emotionally touching .”

Tieke suspects that AI will question some of the creative professions, but will not replace people as clients. He sees an analogy to human art in the fact that AI learns from existing works: Artists are always influenced by the works of others. The AI ​​generates new works each time, which are never just a copy of existing works.

The question “AI, yes or no?” unnecessary. AI is like the genie out of the bottle. He will never go back in the bottle. In the future, art will have to live with this technology and also use it. Tieke sees it as problematic that painting AI is currently mainly influenced by the western worldview. But this shows that the AI-generated images are only the result of what they are “fed” with. He also sees a danger in the use of AI to generate fake news, since at some point images and videos will probably no longer be distinguishable from real images.

The question remains whether images, videos, texts or songs generated by AI can be distinguished from human works in the future. Anyone who would like to form their own opinion can view the exhibition in Rinteln and Bad Oeynhausen until July 31, 2023.


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