Navigating the Digital Dystopia: Exploring Generative AI and Contemporary Art

Well, first, I’d like to thank you for making a video and not just a comment that I have to reply to. I do wanna say that I didn’t watch your entire video. I did. It’s important that I hear everything you say because believe it or not, actually hear everything you say. I think you might have a more flippant version of who I am and how I feel about these things.

But I’ve been doing this for a very long time. About a decade or so ago, I gave a presentation called learning from the Mash Up. Are we blending our future or thrown our future in the blender? This is back when mashed up conversations were all the rage.

I’m a professional skeptic. I really am. I’m the first to get in line and tell you that if you look at my videos from a few months ago or even a year ago, I’ll talk about generative AI as being the snake that’s eating its tail and the great normalization and flatlining and boring of the worlds. Of course, this is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. I really never said it was.

I appreciate you looking at my CV. I wish you’d looked at it a little more carefully, though, because I think you misunderstood who I am and what I do. Yes. My MFA is in contemporary dance. And yes, a lot of the larger projects are done had been large format installation, sort of very much, you know, performance arts type things. And that’s only because that’s where I get the gigs. People like that. I’m an art professor. I’ve been teaching art at an art school for over a decade to art students at 140 plus year old art and design college, a very prestigious one in fact. So no, I know about visual arts. I know that my students all start to twitch when we talk about generative AI. And that’s why I wanna have more conversations about it, not to be all like, but not to be all like, eh, because there are interesting things to talk about. I also wanna say that I’m not moving the goal posts, I promise you. I keep trying to remind everybody there’s a very specific reason that I was talking about what I was talking about. And it stemmed from Shay and their original assertion about how much like hip hop was originally a art form because of the way that people were mixing and sampling that, it’s interesting to see what we might view generative AI as in the future. And because I’m also at Case Washington Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where in the business school, they pioneered something called appreciative inquiry, where during an appreciative inquiry session, you literally, you make a commitment to only look at the positive something. It’s a really cool process. It’s a really cool investigative process. There’s a lot of details to it where nothing negative is brought up, where you look at something and say, let’s just talk about the positives. And as she brought up something interesting and something that could have a profound cultural impact on the expansion and the changing of the nature of visual art, even if we get past the ethical issues, which I agree, by the way, they’re all , all these people are terrible. You’re stealing from the little guy, then I’ll give a .

My point was I wanted to address Shay’s original thing. Can we talk positively? What are the positive? What are we not looking at by only focusing on the negative? That was where I was coming from, and that’s why I keep saying things that you might think are flippant, but really are the, let’s talk about this slightly differently. Now I could be sarcastic and say, you know, when you talk about using AI for the executive functions that, you know, allow your day to go a little bit better. I would go, but all those poor, you know, executive assistants, those administrative assistants that are losing their jobs because you’re not hiring them. And I know you’re a small business owner and you’re never gonna hire them, and that perspective is one I wanna remind you of. Is that a lot of the people who are using these things as final product, it’s because they were never hiring artists.

Now, is that fundamentally wrong? Of course it’s fundamentally wrong. It isn’t fundamentally wrong because you’re not hiring artists. It’s fundamentally wrong because they have no aesthetic vision to be able to say, oh, that’s what something should look like versus look what’s done.

I rarely remind students, do not confuse closure with quality. That’s what I’m talking about here is that generative AI with enough work could actually produce something of quality. We rarely see it, and that’s what we’re talking about. And you’re absolutely right. We are inundated by people who are being bad actors. My problem is I don’t think I can solve that problem. I know I can’t solve it in the trenches. What will solve the problem is the more we’re able to get these engines to do bad things the first time, and we’ve seen already a couple times were watermarks are creeping in the generative AI, we get somebody who’s got definitive proof that this thing was fed illegally and they start doing a good lawsuit, that’s the lawsuit we want. But that’s gonna be one titan after another. It’s gonna be like, you know, you know, chat, GBT being sued by Disney. It’s gonna be the class of the Titans. I don’t know faith in that either because I know weird things are gonna happen. Remember, we’ve seen horrible things happen in the copyright space where people were sampling from other people and just knocking them off. And the judge were like, yeah, but there’s no money in that cuz that guy wasn’t famous. So what does it matter? He wasn’t gonna be rich anyway. There’s some horrible things in the electoral property space, and it’s been that way for a while. So my flippancy is really more of a cynicism because we’ve been doing this for a while in terms of these big companies on the little guy. It’s wrong, but it has nothing to do with whether it’s commercial or not. You keep saying, well, if it’s commercial, dude, that’s irrelevant. You might be concerned because there’s an economic impact on the small artists, the ones that aren’t being hired and the ones that are being stolen from. I would say the ones that are being stolen from, sure.

The ones that are being hired. We live in an evolving world. I’ve works and continue to get jobs as a professional photographer. It’s harder. Do you know why? Cuz everyone’s got a camera, everyone’s a professional photographer, but not everyone has an eye. And you know that and I know that. And the people who don’t know that, they’re not hiring people. They’re taking their cell phone and they’re grabbing their own stuff. And there’s thing wrong with your cell phone.

By the way, I’ve been having a lot of hero. Oh, you need to better know. My cell phone does what it needs to do. And that’s what I meant as well. A lot of times it is about doing what it needs to do. NFTS had an amazing. And I won’t be doing right now. There are really good uses for NFTs, but it’s over because people poison the well. There was really good uses for crowdsourcing. It’s over cuz people have poisoned the well and there could be, again, really cool things about generative AI.

Again, I’m working with one particular company and no, it’s not Adobe. That does have an open source platform that even allows you to put your own stuff in and even allows you to work locally on your own machine. That’s pretty exciting. I’m still making them peel back layers for me because again, I, I’m a cynic. Absolutely. And anytime I’ve used things that I’ve started with materials, I’m always gonna go with transformative.

Cuz again, even when I hire artists that usually are making building blocks for me, most of the things that I hire artists for aren’t the final polish. It’s the building blocks that I work with. But that’s me. That’s how I work. That’s what I’m looking for when I’m hiring artists. But I don’t wanna think you to think that I’m disagreeing with you. The world is a terrible place and it’s a lot of it is because of general of AI.

But it’s actually not just general AI. It is the cycle of the businesses that go for the quick buck, that don’t allow things to grow and to nurture. And that’s one of the reasons why they’re like, you can’t make a blockbuster movie anymore because, you know, movies can’t make that much money back. And we’re like, right, right. Maybe we’re gonna see like movies are all gonna become lower special effects movies because we can’t make hundred million dollar movies anymore. Maybe we’re gonna see another change, another shift. And we keep seeing these shifts and no one’s ready for it.

I recently heard something about the fact that pop music is gonna get more and more pop and it becomes this flat line of creativity. We know this, but we also know that something’s gonna give. We know that something’s gonna break. Maybe I sound upbeat because I like to be a beat. I know that the world is going to . I will give a talk a few years ago. If you really went through my CV, you’d be seeing like whatever the top, whatever the hot button of the day is. I’ll tell you why we’re all going to hell.

I gave a talk once where I said, imagine a library which, where the car, the floors were knee deep in garbage and if you pulled the wrong book off the shelf, it exploded. That is the modern internet. That’s where we live right now. We live in a digital dystopia. Don’t get me wrong. I agree with you most of time. I was just trying to be positive for a moment. Can you give me that? Let’s go live soon.