Many people considered it a “formless blur of colors,” an image that was abstract but slightly resembling a human face. The image isn’t even properly positioned on the canvas, rather it is skewed towards the northwest.
In October 2018, this “art piece”: Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, an algorithm-generated print, was sold for $432,500, thus beginning the AI-Art goldRush.
Humans have always created and enjoyed all forms of art, for viewing purposes, for aesthetic purposes, and even for therapeutic purposes. Since the discoveries of an artistic shell carved by homoerectus, the art business has grown in leaps and bounds and become a highly profitable industry. Leonardo Davinci’s, Salvator Mundi went for $450.3 million, becoming the most expensive art piece to date.
Understanding and thriving in this industry is not as easy as it may appear, it requires a lot of knowledge, time, and exposure. 25-year-old Arushi Kapoor is the CEO and co-founder of ARTSop art consulting, is an entrepreneur who boasts all of these traits. She is also the founder of Arushi, a cultural center and art warehouse based in Echo Park, Los Angeles. In this article, Kapoor shares her knowledge of the art industry and the influence that tech and AI have on it.
Technology has impacted the way art is created and enjoyed for the better part of the last 100 years, the invention of portable paint tubes enabled artists to paint outdoors and sparked a contingent of stunning landscape and horizon paintings. Today cameras and software like Photoshop have redefined the way art is created and enjoyed.
Kapoor, who is herself a tech-enthusiast agrees that these advancements have been great, but insists that they have not changed the antiquated meaning of art.
“I will always be grateful for technology and technological advancements,” says Kapoor. “I wouldn’t have a business or be able to do what I have done in the industry since the age of 19, had it not been for technologies of various kinds.”
She continues,“However, in my experience, I feel that there is still and will always be that reverence in the hearts of art lovers towards handmade art and crafts. Technological creations have great utility and aesthetic value, but paintings and craft tend to have what I refer to as ‘artistic glory. Human creativity is what art is all about. Technology is a help to it, not a full replacement for it.”
Kapoor’s foray into the industry dates back to when she wrote her first book, “Talking Art” at age 19. With that book, she put the world on notice that art was not going to be just a fleeting interest for her. Kapoor grew up in India, Europe, and the US, and this multicultural exposure has certainly influenced her knowledge and understanding of art.
Kapoor is the director of Arushi, a US-based venture that made history as the first to present a sold-out all-Indian art show; “Art of India, Reclaiming The Present.”
ArtSop Consulting, a facet of Arushi, provides private art consulting to people around the world, buying and selling art for clients in the secondary art market. Additionally, ArtSop represents primary artists that are featured in the art warehouse, Arushi.
Kapoor is also a technology investor, who has done a lot of research and invested capital into AI-driven art startups that are moving the needle when it comes to the future of art tech.
Kapoor comments that the integration of AI and art has been received with mixed feelings.
“Personally, I haven’t seen any extraordinary artworks created by AI exclusively yet,” she says. “I think there is always going to be some human intervention required to create out of the park art. I recently heard, DeviantArt is an AI tool thats helping find stolen artworks. That’s extraordinary and that’s how I believe AI can make a positive impact on the art world”
The success of the AI-generated Portrait of Edmond de Belamy seems to have sparked off a series of AI art creations all wanting to cash out on the AI intrigue among some high spending art lovers.
In a recent exhibition of prints shown at the HG Contemporary gallery in Chelsea, the epicenter of New York’s contemporary art world, 20 prints were displayed as part of the “Faceless Portraits Transcending Time.”
The ARTSop CEO isn’t necessarily intrigued by this development, Kapoor’s MO has always been about highlighting upcoming local and female contemporary artists who have no platform to showcase their creations. In the opening of her “Invite-only” warehouse in LA, she featured a local female artist, Lindsay Dawn, for her first exhibition. Kapoor believes that real art should be discovered and celebrated.
“If AI prints continue to sell for huge amounts it may de-incentivize actual human creation and creativity,” says Kapoor.
“At the rate at which technology is being accepted in every industry, it is no longer difficult to imagine a future where fewer artists are creating because they lack platforms to sell. ‘Arushi’ along with many other art companies and galleries, hopes to find a balance and to create an ecosystem where both kinds of art can co-exist in the future. This shift to accepting non man made artworks isnt widely accepted currently. I am optimistic that there would always be a large section of art lovers who prefer man-made creations or perhaps love both.”
Artificial Intelligence wasn’t initially applied to art as a creator but as an impersonator. The technique is called style transfer and it uses deep neural networks to replicate, recreate and blend styles of artwork, by teaching the AI to understand existing pieces of art. Alexandra Squire is an excellent example of how the very human process of making art is not easily replicated. Squire believes art is a universal language with vast meanings, and focuses on art that is substantial, open to interpretation, and rich in depth and texture.
The increased usage of all kinds of AI in all kinds of art suggests that it is here to stay. From the AI-written book, “1 The Road”, to Anna Riddler’s AI-generated blooming tulip videos, creators have found value in utilizing artificial intelligence.
The question then becomes, is AI the future of the art industry? Kapoor shares her sentiment on this pertinent question.
Kapoor adds, “The more optimistic view is that artificial intelligence evolves into a greater tool for existing creators to enhance, discover and replicate their works. We all hope for a world where our technologies help us, and not replace us.”
Kapoor’s perspective on the future of art and AI is probably the most tenable and desirable. There is a strong perception amongst art lovers that machines can not produce art in the real sense of the word.
This sentiment is partly true because so far, AI has only demonstrated an ability to study and understand existing art and to somehow enhance or combine them to produce something new, and in some cases, something better.