Art and Experience in the Era of AI

The way we live is changing faster than ever. We’re constantly upgrading to the next new thing, yet we seldom reconsider the value and belief systems that make us human. The disruption and upheaval that are characteristic of the twenty-first century require that we seek new understandings of reality. With technology driving change, it stands to reason that it can also serve as a prism for understanding. 

Art+Technology – the digital video series co-produced by Hyundai Motor and Bloomberg Media Studios – explores the power of art as a prism for understanding and a tool for transformation.  With Season 6 now underway, John Phillips from Bloomberg Media Studios caught up with Hyundai Artlab and ChatGPT for a quick chat on the intersection of art, technology, and human experience.

Hyundai Artlab: When we started this program in 2018, the convergence between Art and Technology was at its rising point brought about by machine learning and AI. Throughout the series we explored how advanced technology impacted the arts and vice versa. After six years it’s no longer about the interplay between art and technology alone, but rather how both are reshaping society and our lives. 

Anything that shapes our lives will ultimately manifest in the art we create, as a topic, a tool, or both. AI is central to the changes taking place today, so it’s vital that we hear what AI has to say. That’s why this program doesn’t treat AI as a demonstration of technology, rather we invite AI into the conversation with our guests. Heading into Episode 4, you’ll see we plan to invite a variety of AI-born entities into the conversation. We have a lot to learn.

Artists Ian Cheng, MoMA curator Michelle Kuo and ChatGPT talk art and programming in Episode 2. 

John: AI-powered tools are turning people who do not have a background in art or technology into artists. On one hand this democratizes art and creativity. On the other it seems to diminish the role of the artist in society. What’s your perspective?

ChatGPT: While AI empowers individuals to create art without traditional artistic skills, it does not render those skills irrelevant. The availability and accessibility of AI tools may increase the quantity of art being produced, but artistic skills and craftsmanship still hold intrinsic value. The uniqueness, personal touch, and depth of artistic expression that skilled artists bring to their work cannot be replicated by AI alone.

At the same time, AI-powered tools allow non-artists to express themselves. This inclusivity fosters diversity and redefines the criteria for art, challenging traditional notions. However, questions arise regarding human intention and the authenticity of artistic expression. As AI tools advance, a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines should emerge, with artists using AI as a creative tool. This ongoing interplay will reshape the art world, fueling debates and ethical considerations while pushing boundaries. The evolving landscape has the potential to profoundly transform art, empowering individuals and redefining the nature of creativity itself.

Ross Goodwin’s ELLE-R bot (2023) as featured in Episode 3

John: One of the takeaways from Art+Technology is that people will always find a way to do something creative with technology. It speaks to a fundamental human need. What have you learned about humanity over the past five seasons of Art+Technology?

Hyundai Artlab: Art is a means of expression and discovery for the creator. For the viewer, it’s a means of navigating complexity, understanding the world, and illuminating the unfamiliar. That gives us a deeper appreciation for the variety of human experience. Understanding people and society through the lens of art and technology makes sense at a time when our lives are becoming increasingly complex. It empowers us to share and learn from a more diverse set of perspectives. 

The charm of art is that it connects us to unknown worlds and lives. People feel they are being heard and taken care of. Especially art in connection to technology, which is so central to our lives that anybody who’d like to express their thoughts and feelings can create some sort of art. There are no rules or boundaries in art. Depending on the type of art, it doesn’t necessarily require skills or knowledge. That’s also a fundamental reason why people feel so intrigued by the intersection of art and technology.  

John: You mentioned that technology has opened the possibility for anybody to create art. Tell us a bit more about how technology has made art more engaging and accessible.

Hyundai Artlab: Artists around the world are increasingly using tech in their studios. Where the canvas once limited what was possible, technologies including artificial intelligence and virtual reality are broadening the spectrum of possibilities by enabling artists to communicate in ways never before possible. While the art is powered by technology, the results often capture what it means to be human. 

ChatGPT: Technology has made art more engaging and accessible through online platforms, VR, AR, and social media. It connects artists and audiences globally, facilitates immersive experiences, and democratizes the creation process. Overall, technology has bridged the gap between artists and audiences, enhancing engagement, and breaking down barriers to access art.

Hyundai Artlab: Art is no longer limited to artists or studios. Technology opened a door in the art world whereby anyone with a thought or feeling or something they want to express can become an artist or do something artistic. People no longer view art as an exclusive, untouchable domain limited to people with a specific set of skills. Instead, technology rendered art more inclusive. Anyone can create and share art. 

ChatGPT joins the discussion in Episode 1 and 2

John: We often find that technology influences and enables art. How has art benefitted technology? 

Hyundai Artlab: Modern artwork is immersive. It puts spectators front and center, empowering them to see and experience the world though someone else’s eyes. Therein lies art’s ability to foster dialogue and unite people to face the defining issues of our time—climate change, population growth, inequality, and more. We saw this in Season 5, with episodes that explored the role of art in demystifying climate change and the ways technology can bring us closer to nature. 

Technology will play a huge role in addressing some of some of the challenges that we face today. A provocative piece of art has the power to move a scientist, an engineer, an innovator, an entrepreneur, a company, or anyone else to action. In some cases, that individual might use existing technology to address those challenges. In others, they may need to innovate. In both cases, the artistic influenced their actions. 

ChatGPT: Art and technology have benefited from each other by inspiring innovation, pushing boundaries, and humanizing the user experience. Artists’ creative expressions drive engineers and designers to think outside the box, resulting in technological advancements. Collaboration between artists and technologists creates immersive experiences, intuitive interfaces, and aesthetically pleasing designs, fostering emotional connections with technology. Art also addresses social and ethical dimensions, shaping responsible development. As a catalyst, art enhances the impact and potential of technology in our lives.

John: Art provides a prospective on some of today’s biggest challenges, while technology provides solutions. How do they complement one another on this front?

Hyundai Artlab: We find artists and their creations are always in the vanguard of what and how we should consider society and the future. The various thoughts and values that they bring to the surface makes us think about things that we would not have otherwise recognized or considered. That includes serious issues such as climate change, virtual reality, and other topics that we frequently hear about. These are some of the most important issues of our generation.

Watch Season 6 of Art + Technology here.

*Artificial Intelligence ChatGPT’s responses are, in part, based on edited real human conversations as well as prompts generated by voice-to-text technology and OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model