Art, AI & its primitives:
The society in which we live is a product of creativity and innovation. One of the behaviors humans considered to be uniquely human is our creativity. Humans, unlike other beings, make art for its own sake, as a form of personal expression. It’s a universal language that tells about human agreements/generosities. In short, art makes us human.
Humans ability to produce art dates back to the early stone age when our ancestors developed cognitive abilities through hunting: making and using tools, developing memory, forming language, developing expression and recognizing patterns in the world around them.
Imagine giving a machine some memory & make it understand, recognize, learn and express things like humans do. A ground-breaking outcome of this insanely crazy idea is the crux of artificial intelligence.
Computational Creativity & Digital Art:
But, how does creativity inform Artificial intelligence – something which is quintessentially human?
How do we make a computer, which is a canvas, a brush or a musical instrument?
How could we make it as a creative entity in its own right?
Computational creativity is a fascinating study of building software that instills creative behavior to make a computer perform autonomous creative tasks like writing poems, painting pictures and composing music. In fact, it goes far beyond the simple replication of activities that we consider creative. Thus, the software is rather a creative collaborator here than a mere tool that produces programs for creative people to use.
To break it to you in simpler terms, whether it’s applied to paintings, photography, video or music, the concept is the same: Investigate, simulate and harness. Choose a piece of artwork whose style is to be recreated, then let the algorithm apply that style to a different artwork. Or, choose several styles of art and let the AI produce mash-ups that incrementally blend styles together.
We’re feeding software that we consider to be beautiful, allowing it to identify the common attributes of that material, and create permutations within those boundaries. Style transfer is the term that best describes this approach.
But AI can’t do it all. One needs a human artistic spirit to complete the loop here. An artist could give input to the technology, the AI processes it, flings something back and the artist responds by reacting to whatever the AI has produced and provides another input for the system. This is precisely called the human-machine feedback loop.
Thus, the collaboration between human artistic spirit and advance intelligent technologies can result in interesting bursts of artistic creativity and produce a new creative genre. Working with AI, Artists can harness chaos and complexity to find beauty in noise. We can parse, recode and connect to values and patterns that exceed our grasp.
The output thus created will define a new kind of art that differs categorically from all art previously made by humans through history.
Let’s glide through those remarkable examples of AI aided creativity now:
The modern Shakespeare:
With joyous gambols gay and still array
No longer when he was, while in his day
At first to pass in all delightful ways
Around him, charming and of all his days
Can you believe that this poetic masterpiece is rendered as an algorithm output by a computer?
This is what happens when the AI is fed with nearly 3000 sonnets(poems) as training and the algorithm tore them apart to teach itself how the words worked with each other and the rules it needed to
follow to craft an acceptable poem. In fact, the poems written by the AI follow the rules of poetry with more precision than human poets like Shakespeare.
Music Maestro in the making:
The day has arrived when you listen to soothing music composition and when you search for the name of the composer anxiously, it is of no surprise if you figure out that it’s an AI-assisted soundtrack composition.
Music compositions that are consistently structured and follow patterns like Bach and math rock are fairly replicable by AI.
If you are not in the mood for serious music and just looking for a mash-up, that can be achieved by AI too. Amper is an online app that allows the user to select instruments, rhythms, styles, and tempos to “collaboratively” generate new music.
Nsynth Super is another example that uses neural network to understand the characteristics of sound, then create completely new tones using the acoustic qualities of original sounds.
The artist is using AI here as an ideation partner to create new blends of old sounds thereby exploring new possibilities. AI here is the collaborator thus inspiring the artists who want to discover new insights, connections, or patterns across a large set of data points.
Presenting our Picasso:
Have you remotely imagined decades ago that our future would consist of paintings that are created by AI?
Well, the world now is not as it seems it is and the vision is changing.
Google AI’s style transfer model blends a series of images and produce a new image altogether.
The four original pieces of artwork chosen are positioned in each corner and with varying degrees of blending one image onto another, a central image is depicted that represents the optimal mix of all four pieces as follows:
Microsoft’s AI bot is for people who appreciate art but don’t want to take the stress of creating it. If you can describe an image with impressive artistry of written text, this bot can transform the same into an image with its impeccable artistic skills.
AI is even capable of some stunning style transfer that produces original art imitations by combining two classic artworks on the creative canvas as below:
Master or the Muse:
As we unravel the diverse and niche use cases of AI, one fundamental question raises: What it means to be creative? Is the machine’s participation true creativity? Or is it simply the result of amalgamation of algorithms with curated data?
The truth is, we lack the skill to define the origins of creativity because we, the humans, don’t know where flashes of inspiration come from and hence its difficult to define creativity into a structured set of rules. Until we arrive at that, technology will just be an artistic muse for humans rather than a knowledgeable master of our race.
With this understanding, we peer into the future with a mission to discover new ways to express ourselves better with our increasingly sophisticated partners. TOGETHER.