An Evolving Relationship between Art and Artificial Intelligence

An Evolving Relationship between Art and Artificial Intelligence

Artists have long been interested in exploring new mediums and tools to express their creativity. In recent years, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has provided artists with an intriguing new platform. However, one artist, Supercomposite, has decided to step away from AI art for the time being. In an interview, Supercomposite described the process of working with AI as “very frustrating and very limiting.” This article will delve into the artist’s experience and shed light on the evolving relationship between art and AI.

Supercomposite, the pseudonym for artist and writer Steph Maj Swanson, gained attention in 2022 when she created an unsettling female portrait named “Loab” using AI. The images of Loab quickly went viral on social media, sparking countless ethical discussions about the intersection of art, technology, and visual aesthetics. The haunting and macabre nature of these images captivated audiences, but Supercomposite soon found herself burned out by the intensive process of creating AI-generated art.

Supercomposite admitted that working with AI art had an addictive quality, as it triggered a dopamine response in the brain. The ability to continuously generate new and intriguing results by pressing a button enticed her to keep pushing the boundaries. However, this addictive quality also proved to be frustrating and limiting. Supercomposite began to feel trapped by the algorithms and constraints of AI, which curbed her artistic freedom.

Supercomposite experimented with various AI tools such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E. She explored the concept of negative prompts, using specific queries to exclude certain elements from the generated images. For instance, she entered the negative prompt “Brando::-1” to create an image that deliberately avoided any resemblance to the late Marlon Brando. The results intrigued Supercomposite, leading her further down the rabbit hole of AI art.

While testing out different prompts, Supercomposite stumbled upon a black logo with green lettering spelling out “DIGITA PNTICS.” Curious to see the opposite of this image, she requested “DIGITA PNTICS” skyline logo::-1. The result was the first appearance of Loab, a haunting woman with long hair, red cheeks, and truncated letters spelling out her name. This discovery excited Supercomposite and fueled her desire to further modify and manipulate Loab using AI.

Supercomposite’s interactions with AI generated hundreds of disturbing images featuring Loab. What was even more unsettling was Loab’s consistent appearance alongside dismembered children in a grotesque and bloody world. Despite generating numerous variations of Loab, the artist found her reappearing after several generations, lending an eerie and mysterious quality to her creation.

In September 2022, Supercomposite shared the existence of Loab on Twitter, renaming her account to X. The posts quickly went viral, dramatically changing the artist’s life. Supercomposite became obsessed with exploring Loab’s identity, observing how she manifested in different scenarios and pushing the limits of the AI model. However, this newfound viral fame also brought skepticism and doubt from internet users who questioned the authenticity and creation process of Loab.

Experts have pointed out that it is impossible to fully understand how generative AI interprets abstract requests. Supercomposite has intentionally not disclosed the specific tool she used to create Loab, as she wanted the focus to remain on the art itself rather than the tool or its creators. Sadly, this decision has led to accusations of “creepypasta” and claims that Supercomposite manipulated the images. She vehemently denies these allegations, viewing them as a testament to the engagement and interaction Loab provoked.

The intense and emotionally draining process of creating AI-generated art has left Supercomposite burnt out and exhausted. Over a year has passed since she last engaged with Loab, choosing instead to focus her creative energy on writing a screenplay. Supercomposite summed up her sentiment towards AI tools by quoting video art pioneer Nam June Paik: “I use technology in order to hate it properly.”

Supercomposite’s journey highlights the complexities and challenges that arise when merging art and AI. While AI offers new possibilities and avenues for artistic expression, it also places limitations on creativity and autonomy. The evolving relationship between art and AI will continue to push boundaries, spark debates, and inspire future generations of artists to explore the intersection between human creativity and technological advancements.


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