While Cosmo Plays With AI Toys, People Continue Making Real Art
Phaidon has published an essential survey of emerging artists worldwide
In April, The Middlebrow got cranky about Dall-E, an online artificial intelligence that claims to be able to make art based on user prompts. Dall-E’s creators claim to have created an algorithm that is an artist. But the whole point of art is the ability to break rules while an algorithm is nothing but rules. Before Dall-E’s masters released their misnamed monster to the public they had to be sure that Internet users, who can be counted to bring tragedy to any commons, could not ask Dall-E to transgress in ways you can surely imagine.
But art is transgressive. Not all art transgresses, but it always can. The right to transgress is proof of freedom and creativity can only exist alongside free will, which Dall-E lacks. Until Dall-E can alter or break the rules its creators have imposed, it is a paintbrush, not a painter.
Cosmopolitan jumped on Dall-E’s recent popularity and used the tool to create the cover for its AI issue. “And it only took 20 seconds to make,” brags the coverline. But it’s nothing to be proud of. The cover is terribly composed. Like just about anything Dall-E renders, it looks like the kind of anodyne graphic you’d find in the poster racks of an “edgy” mall gift store, to be purchased by a teenager and then affixed to a wall as a warning to any potential romantic visitors that the host is not as cool as they may have let on.
While Dall-E snags magazine cover design jobs and online praise, a new generation of emerging artists are nowhere nearly as well known as they should be. Put down your computer-generated make-up mag and pick up Prime: Art’s Next Generation, published recently by Phaidon. One of the toughest things about visual art for a neophyte like The Middlebrow, is getting to know artists, galleries and venues with few places to start. The Scholar Wife provides a vital introduction through her collected work at Forbes but there are otherwise few places to seek introductions to new work and talents.
Organized like an encyclopedia but with each entry rendered as a story, Prime collects the work of 100 artists from around the world, born between 1980 and 1995. Their work spans installations, painting, sculpture and performance and the visual styles are as diverse as their origins.
Jill Mulleady, born in Uruguay and working in Los Angeles creates paintings that achieve an antifascist, contemporary noir. (Image page 285). Toyin Ojih Odutola, born in Nigeria and working in New York City paints lush portraits that make the real seem fantastic. Georgina Gratrix of Mexico City and now working in Capetown, both disturbs and delights.
Generally, The Middlebrow is a wordy affair, but enjoy some images, snapped from the book when images grabbed me as I read:
We don’t need Dall-E. We need to pay attention to each other. People are making great art out there and some of them could probably use a magazine cover payday. Prime is fun to read, especially in chunks. I took time to visit a letter of the alphabet day and always encountered something that made me stop to gaze. Create what you want in your innovation labs, the future of art remains wonderful people making wonderful things (that you won’t find tucked into the darkened corner of a store in a South Portland mall).