The Addictive Nature of AI Art Apps

I’ve been thinking a lot about the addictive nature of AI art. Using the AI art apps often feels like using a slot machine. I vacillate from, “It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s crazy,” to “it’s dull, it’s fake, it’s a ripoff, it’s a dopamine hit.” The addictive quality of making these images is nothing new to me. It was like that when I was using the decimate app. Input an image and “pull the slot” so many times until the app spits something back at you that makes you happy. Looking back I don’t think I ever got anywhere with the slot machine art. My palettes are kind of all over the place (I would like to be more studied and disciplined in my use of color, but that is not in the cards just yet.) Each time a theme emerged I would get sucked back into the addictive slot machine to churn out some more images.

Anyhow – this blog is the place I use to make sense of what I am doing. To evaluate my projects and my processes. The conclusion I came to is that, as an artist, I don’t have to answer any of these questions. I just have to see where it takes me. If it’s stupid, or a rip off or going to a dark place really really quickly (see: Loab, which is dark and probably fake) – these are not my problems to solve. My purpose as an artist is to be enthralled and engaged with a process, and curate the material that evolves from that. When I use these digital art apps, that is exactly what I am doing. I don’t think I am ever going to be that artist that is disciplined in my palette, and happy to sit down with my paints and mix a bunch of colors. So why not just own that, in the way that Petra Cortright does:

“I’ve tried regular painting before – it’s the slowest, dumbest thing on the planet. You can’t undo, you can’t copy and paste, I don’t have the patience for it. The whole waiting for paint to dry thing just doesn’t work for me.”

This Petra Cortright quote has been living in my brain for years now, and I use it as an evergreen rebuttal to my inner asshole art critic when he says, “All this digital stuff is not real art, so you should probably quit.”

With all of this in mind I have been ruminating on 2 different artists:

Jenny Odell’s many projects.

Jenny Odell, 104 Airplanes.

Dina Kelberman’s “I’m google.”

Dina Kelberman, I’m google (screenshot)

Both of them use a process of selecting and collecting endless images from google, and translating them into something that is both interesting and beautiful. I think that is where I am hoping to go with all of the AI images I am churning out. Maybe I will or maybe I won’t. Maybe my pendulum of interest will swing the other way and I will start doing more physical things. Or archiving physical things.

For now I have been making many iterations of “fake” woodcuts, and I am overlaying them on a image of scraps of paper to make them look more real. To what end? I don’t know. I may never know. All I know is that they are fun to make, and kind of dumb (lol look at the one with strabismus), kind of interesting. The process involves using a photo, processing it with inkwork app and then running it through the AI in the style of German Expressionism. These types of things used to take me hours, if not days to make when I did actual woodcut prints in college, and they were mediocre at best. So maybe the lesson here is, if you’re going to be mediocre, why not have fun with it?

Fake AI Woodcut Self-Portraits.