My country is now host to the world’s first gallery for AI art. Isn’t that a marvelous feat? It’s situated in Amsterdam. Of course. And you can find it at the Dead End Gallery. Which I find an ironic if apt name.
Among artists there is a genuine worry for artificial intelligence, and rightfully so. Due to the method of generating images, AI art is very close to the kind of copyright infringement a master counterfeiter like Wolfgang Beltracchi was convicted for.
Beltracchi is an extremely skilled painter. He is able to recreate the signature style of countless famous artists. And his method for counterfeiting was to never reproduce famous paintings, but to create a new artwork in the style of one of these famous artists. It’s still counterfeiting. It still got him sentenced to six years in prison.
From Terminator To The Devil Wears Prada
What worries me is in this debate, is how easily people – aside from artists – accept AI art as yet another option to buy. A cheaper, often better looking option even! I’d be really showing my age if I now started a flaming tirade against consumerism. (If you look at my pictures on the website, you can hear the Photoshop filters creak and moan as they barely to hold my face together.)
It’s also not true that ‘buying more = bad’. Or that ‘good deals = bad’.
There is something more troublesome at the base of our purchasing habits. And I think this is why AI art is just the latest step.
When I’m working, I have a few YouTube channels that I like to listen to. One of them is Bernadette Banner. She is a dress historian, with a funny personality and a vast wellspring of knowledge about the Victorian era. Last week, I listened to her video featuring another historian (dr Serena Dyer) about the origins of fast fashion. I really, really recommend you watching this video because it is absolutely fascinating. You can find it here: But finish reading this blog post first 😉.
In it, there was an entire section where they talked about the consequences of fast fashion. Today, with Shein being the newest hot kid in town, there is a new item released every day. But these clothes aren’t made to last. When you wash them, they’re destroyed. At most, they’ll survive four wash cycles. For only a couply bucks, they won’t empty your bank account, but you won’t be able to make a lasting wardrobe with them either.
The All-Consuming Monster
Both Serena and Bernadette lamented how people are no longer able to recognize quality fabrics and clothing. Because we are being force-fed the same garbage over and over again, we’ve come to expect that that’s all there is. And then, when we finally DO see quality garments, we consider them horrendously overpriced. We compare them to the only expectations we have had so far.
In my own country we have a ‘fast fashion’ website for bronze sculptures. You can get a 40cm sculpture for just 150 euros. Is it a quality sculpture? No. Is it quality casting? It’s poop. But the buyer won’t know, since this is likely the only reference they have. And this website is a serious competitor in the market. Quantity over quality means faster turnarounds after all.
And here we are in a world where the quality of the total library of music generated has dropped, but its quantity has significantly risen. How many of the same or similar movies and tv-shows have we had in recent years? Copies of copies of copies. But it’s content to be devoured.
I believe AI art is just the next step. As the audience, we have been trained to expect that ‘average’ is the best we can get. And artificial intelligence – limited to mix up images from the data it has been fed – will never be able to offer us excellence.
It truly is a dead end.