What a well written and interesting post. I like your no colour vs. colour cavepainting analogy. I think it fits very well in this discussion about AI vs. human made art.

Expand full comment
Oct 7, 2022Liked by Étienne Fortier-Dubois

The charcoal/ochre art analogy is an interesting one, and I think you're mostly right about the global value of art remaining fairly constant. Businesses will still want to pay minimal amounts for corporate blog headers. Dentist offices will still buy the same hot-air balloon and beach photographs to put on the ceiling over the chair. Game companies will still pay professional artists to create textures and refined concept art.

However, there's also the personal connection that you sort of touch on just below the Prokudin-Gorsky painting. Imagine your well-off grandmother knit you a sweater for Christmas. It's not the best. It's sized kinda weird and the design isn't your style. But it came from grandma. You appreciate the time she devoted to making it, the little flaws that come from her old hands, and the out-of-fashion style that came from her time.

Two weeks later, you're looking at Macy's clearance section and see the same exact sweater (later confirmed when you notice the stub of a cut-off tag on your copy). The value you once had for the sweater is gone. The perceived time-value in making the sweater (or working to afford it if grandma was strapped for cash, but you know she has a new top-end Tesla) was an illusion. The flaws that were once part of the charm of being hand-made are now corner-cutting measures and faults of machine instead of man.

Passing by the legal and ethical issues of AI art's training sets, you still have the person behind the art and the connection you can get to them through it. I wrote something similar to palisatrium of the Short Story substack, and I'll repeat the short version here: Go to Yuumei's website[1] and you can immediately guess that she loves nature and cares about the environment. Go to her blog and you can confirm it based on her past fundraisers. You can see the person in the art - nuance included.

Contrast that with someone posting AI artwork. You can see what they like, but only at the same level as you can tell someone's favourite genre by looking at their Netflix history or their fashion sense based on what they buy at a department store. *At best*, they're limited by choice of what's presented to them[2]. *At average*, they're only saying "I thought this was pretty". *At worst*, they're lying if they claim they made the artwork themselves[3] and act as though they put great effort into it.

Again, I believe you are right that art has constant value. But I think that's true only for the aesthetic value. The humanist-interpersonal-connection value is empty.

[1] https://www.yuumeiart.com/

[2] There's probably some Wittgensteinian expansion that a picture is worth a thousand words, but who knows if those words mean the same thing.

[3] by not disclosing it was made by AI

Expand full comment
Oct 6, 2022·edited Oct 6, 2022Liked by Étienne Fortier-Dubois

Do you think the value of art decreases as the time it takes for it's next iteration to surpass/morph it decreases?

Does the value of the intriguing yellow ochre paint innovation diminish if you know the whole history of art will occur this afternoon?

Expand full comment
Oct 6, 2022Liked by Étienne Fortier-Dubois

This was perfectly said 😍

Expand full comment
Oct 6, 2022Liked by Étienne Fortier-Dubois

I absolutely love your writing.

Expand full comment