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Do you have to be human to make art? How computers are taking over creativity!

Team Storyweavers
September 17, 2020

Out of all the classes in school, don’t you think art class is one of the most relaxing ones? For roughly an hour, you can paint, draw and make your own masterpiece without a worry in the world – that’s the charm of co-curricular activities.

But did you know that the latest developments in the world of art are fast combining different areas of study? Art can now be mixed with what we think of as “mainstream” subjects like science and maths.

How? Take a look at this painting.

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

At first glance, it looks like a regular 19th-century painting doesn’t it? The board strokes of paint and the stance of the subject in fact make it look like a standard portrait. But take a look at the bottom right corner of the painting where the artist usually signs their name. What do you see there?

Instead of a signature, it looks like a mathematical formula doesn’t it? That’s because this painting was made by a computer.

Image Source: Giphy

Can you code art?
The painting you just saw above became infamous for being the first piece of ‘AI art’ that was bought for a huge sum of $432,500. What is AI art you wonder? It’s any work of art that is made by a computer using artificial intelligence (AI). With algorithms, computers can now be taught to draw, paint and even sculpt like human beings! How does it work? Let’s find out.

Teaching creativity to machines
Using AI and machine learning methods, scientists can teach computers a whole variety of things – art being one of them. In a process called generative adversarial networks (GAN), computers are shown a wide range of pictures (think of this as an input to make the computer learn). Based on these pictures, the computer can use its artificial intelligence and learn to make its own image that will match with the input pictures it has seen.

While making “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy”, scientists had shown the computer a lot of 19th-century European paintings. The computer learnt this artistic style and created its own unique rendition of “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” to match it.

Not just that, but computers can also come up with their own new style of painting. In a series called “Faceless Portraits Transcending Time” a computer was able to create its own artistic style to make portraits of people. Have a look at one of the paintings from this series called “Faceless Portrait of a General”. Doesn’t it look strangely like an army general?

Image Source: AICAN

AI artists (who are basically computer programs) are fast gaining popularity. Let’s have a look at a few of them that have grabbed global headlines.

Meet Ai-Da

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A robot made in Britain, Ai-Da can use her robotic eyes to draw, paint and sculpt pieces of art. She can hold pencils and various materials in her mechanical hands and make art just like a human artist!

A poem for your thoughts?

“Learn the last bells of the morning,
My lit palm beautiful and still”

Those beautiful lines were written by Google’s AI software, PoemPortraits. After being trained with thousands of lines of poetry, this software can write its own poem if you give it a starting word!

Is this the end for human artists? What do you think?
Creativity has always been that one area where human beings believed that robots could not enter. The ability to be curious and innovate, and to create art from the mind’s eye has always been considered a uniquely innate human quality. But now with the rise of AI artists, many people fear that this could spell the end of human art. What do you think?

  1. Does AI art have the same value as human art?
  2. Can AI artists overtake human artists?

Let us know your answer in the comments section below!

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About the Author


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Deepthi Chakravarthy

Deepthi is an ambivert who is on a steady diet of good food, filter coffee, and self-improvement. Being an ardent reader, storytelling has been her first love and she enjoys exploring how to convey stories compellingly. Having studied psychology and experienced the learning and development field, Deepthi is driven to understand human behavior and to know what makes each of us unique. You are most likely to find her tucked into a cozy corner at a local cafe with a Kindle or a book in hand. If you find her there, stop by and say hello, she'd be eager to learn your story too. Until then, you can ping her at storyweavers@byjus.com for anything you may like to share.

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