My research in the last few months has been focused on Artificial intelligence in the creative industries. My practice aims to explore ways that we as Artists and Designers can incorporate these tools into our methodology and which contexts it is appropriate to apply them to your work.
A subject I aim to tackle is the combination of the old and the new; of traditional methods and digital/ artificial methods. I aim to devise a way to celebrate the aspects of all technologies, ranging from physical mark making techniques (pen and paper, printmaking) to digital software (illustrator, Premiere Pro) to Ai generation tools (text generation, image generation).
A link I have noticed looking back through my practice is that projects frequently tackle themes of value, desirability, and sentimentality.
At the start of the academic year, discussion surrounding Artificial Intelligence was beginning to heat up due to the rapid development of the technology and the imminent public release of tools that produce content based on an input prompt. I entered the course with mixed opinions on these tools, seeing opinions on both sides as well as seeing misinformation spread, but I lean towards optimistic on the subject. I, like many others, do not consider the output of these text-to-image generators to be “real Art” in that the images do not show expression or critical thinking in a way that an artist or designer would, however I do believe that these tools can be used in transformative ways at various points along the design process.
I started the course with a few broad questions such as “How is/ How will Ai affect the landscape of the creative industries?” and “How can we as creatives adopt Ai as a tool?”
I believe that it is in a Designers best interest to use as many tools as they have available and believe in using a wide range of methods that are appropriate for the given project. One factor in my appreciation for Design is that one project can be based entirely on physical 2D processes, while the next could heavily feature 3D Digital software.
Design for Discussion
With the first brief being “design for discussion”, I wanted to start to answer some questions about Ai. To answer the question ‘can Ai replace an Artist or Designer?’ I used the tools I had available to attempt to create a comic page using as little human input as is possible. The goal was to create an artifact that discusses the potential for a machine to have its own creative voice.
After this experiment, I would argue that Ai tools could be applied to Generative Arts as they have a similar ethos of manipulating variables and allowing an algorithm to create the artwork. The content of the comic pages can come out nonsensical and that is part of the appeal of the process. These pages show that these tools are not at the point of replacing humans in industry due to many factors that designers consider throughout a project.
The next question of this project is ‘can audiences be receptive to fully technologically created Art?’. Art and technology have a long history together, with each sector benefiting from each other in ways such as new technologies opening new avenues for artists to explore (the camera, the computer) or artists and designers showcasing research in visual ways.
The discursive artifact is a music making machine comprised of a variety of musical instruments, led by an autonomous system that can compose and perform music to an audience. Many other Design projects have used Ai and machinery to emulate human kinetic motion and some critics have responded positively, with arguments claiming that there is beauty behind the experience of witnessing a machine attempt to replicate human activities (Wilson, 2012). This is what I am attempting to capture through the physical form of the machine, allowing an exposed view of the strings and pipes of the instruments to be viewed by the audience. The idea is that if the audience can see the way the machine works, they may find the performance more compelling. The visual element of a musical event can play a substantial role in the entertainment value of the performance, whether that be the lighting or set design or the motion of the creative on stage.
Paper and the Body
The main goal of this project was to experiment with a wide variety of methods using the medium of paper. My experiment ranged from papercraft and origami, to the recycling of paper using papermaking processes.
During each experiment I considered the theme of adding value to the material in some way. The idea of something transformative occurring that adds meaning or sentimentality to the artifact. Paper is a relatively cheap material so there is little to no inherent value in the material before something interacts with it.
In the final section of my experimentation, I focused on the use of paper in music packaging. The value of a CD case comes from its ability of protect a body of work. A large selection of CD cases are plastic which is less environmentally friendly than paper material due to the renewability and recyclability.
In order to apply more value to the object of the CD case, I designed a pair of display cases that show of the CD using popup technology.
Paper quality is a factor that goes into consideration when designing. Thick papers and card are harder to fold but offer more structural integrity which I found more useful for construction projects and things that are supposed to last longer, such as a display case. Thinner papers are more workable and but are more prone to damage. I used thinner paper to hold the CD as it is softer on the material, therefore less likely to damage the CD.
Spatial Design and Generative Processes
In a similar vein to the Design for Discussion project, I once again considered the public perception of Ai. A question I pose is, If these tools were presented in a different form, could they have received better reception from Artists and the public? If each program itself was put forward as a work of Generative art, would people like it? Regarding spatial design, the space these tools operate on is online. If these systems were set up in a gallery, with visitors encouraged to interact with the system to affect the imagery displayed, would it be well received?
Earlier I spoke of considering ways to incorporate Ai tools into a design workflow. One way in which I propose they can be used is in non-client/ non-audience facing processes, such as those used to take personal notes or communicate between a team of designers. In one experiment I constructed a mood board using Ai generated imagery pulled from variations of a prompt on sentient sea creatures. This incredibly quick process allows me a view at some features that are prominent in other artists depictions of this one area. When used in conjunction with human art, you can get an overview of a subject that includes variations of images unique to that mood board.
Having read around the subject of Artificial Intelligence for a few months, I have taken it upon myself to plan a piece of speculative fiction based on the concept of Ai replacing every human in the workforce, including in the Arts and Design.
The main methods I used during this project are ones that I can use to capture the city of Chester. I use on site illustration in my sketchbook of buildings and compositions to use as reference for future illustrations. I also have been using photography as a fast way to capture the details and compositions for later study.
An interesting prospect comes up when making the city of Chester a narrative focus when comparing technologies of the past and future as Chester is a place with many listed buildings, allowing buildings from all time periods to remain in use long into the future. The architecture in Chester is already this duality of old houses built as early as the 13th century, paired with modern 21st century builds like the high-rise flats just around the corner.