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Artificial Intelligence and the Art Market

Artificial Intelligence and the Art Market
January 25, 2023
Bradley Calleja

Image: Théâtre D’opéra Spatial by Jason Allen

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At the annual art competition hosted at the Colorado State Fair, painters, sculptures, and designers reveal their best works in pursuit of first place and a $300 grand prize. The latest edition of the competition was won by a piece titled Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, produced by Colorado native Jason Allen. Here comes the controversy. To create the winning work, Allen didn't use a paintbrush or pastels. Instead, the art was developed using an artificial intelligence program called Midjourney.

The technology takes publicly available images, often scraped from the web, and trains a machine-learning algorithm to produce unique images based on text prompts and parameters from its users.For our readers who are up-to-date on the latest AI trends, it's basically ChatGPT if ChatGPT painted pictures instead of writing blogs.While there has long been a battle between computer-generated designs and the traditional art world, the controversy surrounding AI art has now moved beyond the state fairgrounds and into the courtroom. Earlier this month, Getty Images filed a copyright claim in the United Kingdom against an image-generating program known as Stability AI. The AI imaging software was founded in the footsteps of California-based OpenAI's tool, known as Dall-E, which debuted in 2021. The deep learning model, ironically named after the famed artist Salvador Dali, was initially trained on 12 million images and has since been replicated by tools such as Stability AI and Midjourney with slight modifications to their processes. Today, Stability AI, which carries a valuation of $1 billion, is accused of using images controlled under Getty's copyright to train its systems. In addition to the legal battle with Getty, Stability AI was also named in a lawsuit with Midjourney filed on behalf of three artists.

With a similar storyline, the lawsuit alleges that Stability AI and Midjourney 'stole' millions of art images without credit or consent to the original artist. The trio of artists - Karla Ortiz, Kelly McKernan, and Sarah Andersen - are US-based illustrators who have produced works for books, comics, movies, and video games.The traditional art market has clearly felt threatened by the emergence of AI art, and the concerns even prompted a moderator on the Subreddit r/Art to ban a digital artist named Ben Moran for promoting AI art that was curated by a machine learning system. How dare you sully the pristine, hallowed halls of Reddit with your AI drivel, Ben?!

The sudden yet meaningful developments in machine learning technology raise countless questions. Could ChatGPT ever win a Pulitzer Prize? Will MoMA ever replace a Monet with an AI-generated work from Midjourney? While those scenarios might seem improbable today, there is no question that the world's increasing comfort level with automated and artificial processes could reshape multiple industries over the next decade

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