Arabella, "Peering from the Crush"
Arabella is an artist and author living with terminal cancer, navigating what that means for her digital legacy. Her work is inspired by portraiture, the history of medicine, and biomorphic abstraction.
Inspired by the tradition of Pop Surrealism, Peering from the Crush is a vision of a woman that never was looking into another dimension.
Mila Sketch, "Sophia the Robot"
Chris Nacht, "Anamorphic Humanoid"

This month, we began our series of installments exploring the concepts of AI art in the NFT space. With the increase and accessibility of new AI tools, the NFT market has been subject to  a rise in AI generated art, but it hasn’t all been met with praise. The general  argument against AI art is that it’s recreating rather than creating. Last week, we did a deep dive into the opposing camp. Today, we are going to explore the affirmative school of thought.

By design, AI generators are built to take in massive amounts of information and create something new with it. The question posed by the community is, does pushing a few buttons equate to making art?

This is the same criticism that arose at the turn of the 20th century when photography was more widely induced into society. Prior to the 19th century, the traditional European canon of art revered realism, fine line, and true to life color and tones. Fast forward to the end of the 1800s, more perspective play and nuance were introduced. The artworks were full of emotion, color, and imagination. There are various  reasons this shift began to take place, but one that cannot be overlooked is the introduction of photography. Photography was able to capture the likeness of the world around us like never before. With such realism possible, there was less of a need for artists to paint only what they saw. Artists now had the opportunity to express themselves more freely by painting what they felt. 

More than that, photography was able to capture human experience in a way that had never been done before. Introduced at the dawn of WWI, people suddenly had a way of seeing what was happening on the Western Front more vividly than ever before. The power in the use of photography during the war can not be understated. The images opened the world’s eyes to the reality of a shared experience, tugged at their heart strings, and made them question the nature of humanity. 

Eadweard Muybridge, "Horse in Motion"

But not everyone was happy about the new medium and viewed it as competition to other artforms. Naysayers refused to recognize photography as art and accused it of “cheating” since the photographer was clicking a button instead of picking up a paint brush. 

This same resistance is being echoed in the current use of algorithms to create art purposed for NFTs. AI artist Claire Silver recently spoke to NFT Now about the topic and remarked, “The idea of effort being the measure by which art matters, like the amount of manual labor or hard work that you put in is what makes something art I take issue with. I think human expression is what I would value in art…”

What a lot of people don’t see is that the click of the shutter is at the end of the creation process for that photo. There were years of research, trial, testing, and computing that went into creating the camera. The mechanics of the camera is an artform, in the same way that the code of an AI is art. It was meticulously designed and trained by researchers and technologists, the artists of the code. 

Martin Lukas Ostachowski's "ETH Noise of 21 - Variety in Duality" was created using AI trained to track the value of Ethereum in 2021. Available on Mint Gold Dust.

These human actions, the click of the shutter or the creation of phrases, are evidence of the artist’s hand. The photographer lines up the perfect shot, every element in the frame essential to the final product. The artist using AI crafts the perfect text to result in the final product, manipulating it until the output matches their vision.

Today, AI art is used as a tool for artists and writers alike to create new worlds. Earlier this month on Mint Gold Dust, artist and poet Joe Munisteri launched his genesis AI NFT collection, Butterfly Space Opera. The collection was created using various forms of AI, all inspired by classical modern art and nature. The project originally began as writing prompts for Munisteri’s poetry and after months of trial and error blossomed into a collection of works that juxtapose organic figures and shapes with the artificial hand of the AI generator. Each piece can be viewed as a scene from his own opera, filled with drama, tragedy, and spirit. 

With this collection, Munisteri invites the viewer to experience AI artworks as a collaboration between man and the machine and challenges the traditional dogma of what is art. We recently chatted with him about the collection and the nuance of AI art. Check out the conversation below:

Joe Munisteri, "Butterfly Space Opera -1"
What inspired you to use AI for this collection?

As an artist I wanted to challenge my beliefs in what art is, but also as a tech enthusiast I really wanted to experiment and explore. I wanted to use AI as a learning opportunity to grow. As a writer, I really love AI as it allows me to create prompts and then see what can be made with them and then I can build off of the creations that come out. Also, from the perspective of both a writer and a person who is learning code, I found it very unique and interesting as the results that I would get would not be what I had expected and instead I found myself hitting some learning curves. This really came down to the way we word things and even down to which words were used first…This was something I learned very quickly while exploring AI for my collection and it really taught me alot about how coding is an art, just like writing is an art and also allowed me to have some fun with my ideas and works and play around with the words in my vocabulary and even challenge myself to learn new words. 

What AI generator did you use and why did you choose it?

I experimented with A LOT of AI generators including Beta Testing DALL-E 2 among others but ultimately decided upon using “StarryAI” because I really enjoyed the outcomes that I would create and also I really enjoyed the options of having the ability to choose from multiple AI options and really like exploring and experimenting with all the different options and configurations. I definitely also noticed that each AI generator came up with VERY different results all for the same prompts, so I chose to go with what I liked the most and then really dug deep and explored across a few months of trial and error before I found the right wording. 

Where does AI art fall in the canon of art to you?

Code is Art. simple as that. Just as we can view cooking as an art, Code is Art. Code can also be used as a tool to improve on our art. There are definitely times where I feel super self conscious about my art but then I also remind myself that I am using AI as a tool to improve my art and I shouldn’t and really can’t compare something like my doodles to my AI art because they are two very different art forms. I also am using my AI art to take writing prompts and bring them to life and then build stories through those pieces of art. Using AI as a tool like this is incredibly wonderful as it opens up the mind, and it creates a challenge while also removing some of the struggles as a writer such as the dreaded writer’s block, which does still occur but it’s also easier to overcome with an active imagination…The mind is a beautiful imaginative place and AI only amplifies what our minds tell the AI to do. 

I believe AI is a great tool that really will help so many people in the future. We can choose to fight the robots, or we can dance with them, and I say, we should dance with them, for life is like a giant play.

Join the conversation of creation vs replication over on our Discord. and check out the full Butterfly Space Opera on Mint Gold Dust here.

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