Saturday, March 25, 2023


by Patricia Frischer

To get any a sense of the panel discussion on Artificial Intelligence Generated Art at the Oceanside Museum of Art sponsored by the OMA Artist Alliance, you need to know a bit about the background of each of the speakers. They were chosen to be a wide selection of viewpoints. This panel was suggested by the independent curator Vallo Riberto who consistently presents compelling and intelligent events.

Greg Klamt is a digital artist. He considers himself a multi-media storyteller.


Memo Akten specializes in creative applications of Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning with Meaningful Human Control as a

Computational Art and Design Assistant Professor at UCSD,

Stephen Burns is recognized as an Adobe expert with unapparelled skills who specializes in digital creativity.

Kaz Maslanka is a mathematical visual poetry pioneer. He represents the perfect combination of art and science.

Larry Vogel is a sculptor and painter but is using his own extensive body of photographs in collaboration with AI to create new works. He is also co-chair of the OMA Artist Alliance.


Moderator Greg Klamt  “If there isn’t a person involved, how can it be art?”


Klamt introduced a number of questions but his main thrust was to try to spend the night deciding if AI is creative or destructive. He recognized that AI is changing a lot of the fields of creativity and that there is a tension between traditional digital artists and apps like Dall-E 2 which takes text and turns it into images.
  Is it just about the prompts, or does it take more to make good art?  The apps can certainly make beautiful images. And it is easy to use, so many more people can produce visual material. Is AI in art just another progression from other technological inventions like photography?  Or is it a type of fraud as it does not have its own cognition, conscience or creativity? Is it stealing images off the internet?


So this discussion in the end sets out to clarify misinformation and encourage people to explore AI.


Memo Akten:  AI is “…opening up a new battlefield for concepts.” 

“There is going to be a massive shift in skills.” 

A selection of (camera friendly) work in 4 minutes with voice-over (as of 2020) from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

Akten challenges the way we talk about AI art. These new text-based interface apps that give greater access to all are just a small part of a field that has been around for 80 years. He thinks of himself as a New Media Artist using machine learning, which is not yet like the human brain.  He thinks AI does exhibit creativity but is not conscious yet. There’s a human idea combined with a process that produces an AI image. AI art without the human factor could be art but it might just be bad art. In the art and design industry, AI will take the place of junior and assistant level positions. Relationships may shift as AI democratizes art. When AI used internet images, he feels conflicted, “I don’t think it’s theft, but I don’t think it’s not theft.” But clearly is it unethical to use someone’s creation without paying for it. We don’t appear to have the language we need to talk about AI yet, just like we can’t tell the difference between an AI image by a 6-year-old or a master artist. But with time we will be able to differentiate. And the “transition period is going to be painful.”  “A lot of people will be positively affected. A lot of people will be negatively affected.”


Stephen Burns: “AI is a source for inspiration.”


Burns is experimenting with NMKD—stable diffusion GUI which has fewer constraints than say Dall-E 2 and is open-based so people can adapt it to their own style.  He starts with his own works but questions if it remains his own. When he puts his twist on AI creations he bases it on his own experiences plus, like all art, it is inspired by other artists and cultures.  Even the “…AI is a source for inspiration.” And if more people can make art because of the ease of entry, that means a lot more happy, excited people who are expressing their vision. His advice to his students is still learn the skills, as people who know their craft will succeed.  Don’t be lazy and rely on AI. Doing something more quickly does not make it better.


Kaz Maslanka: “Twenty years from now we won’t even be having this conversation.”  (no one will be trying to separate AI from other art)


Maslanka explained that machine learning uses statistical analysis. His own use of mathematical equations is what inspires his visual poetry. Not too many people know about mathematical poetry but every kind of art has its own set of criteria. Think about the complex tasks that machines are using to make art. Defining what is art and what isn’t is an age-old fascinating question. Now the legal system is getting involved. But it seems clear, if you post something on the Internet, anyone who can see it can use it, if only for inspiration.

Larry Vogel  “AI is here to stay and it’s not going away.” 


Vogel has no trouble being a prompter, even has the shirt to prove it. “I’m a Prompter—AI.”  He uses AI as a collaborative partner and gives AI full credit alongside his own signature. He even has AI create it own signature chop. He finds the whole process seductive.  But the difficulty of making art, the short efficient or large laborious time spent to make it doesn’t determine if it’s art.  Charles Darwin saie “We have to adapt or die.” Our journey along with our bias depends on our training. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but it leads us ever onward.  AI art will continue to be unique because it is not just a copy of someone else’s art.  “We cannot copyright our style.” 


The final question from the audience was: Do AI & humanity need to be separated?


Stephen Burns clearly said yes, you have to separate AI from humanity.


Larry Vogel said separating AI from humanity is impossible.


The last word went to the moderator Greg Klamt “There is an acceptance that it’s here and we have to deal with it.”  Be creative and not destructive. Embracing the new is what keeps us young.


Greg Klamt,  MemoAtken, Stephen Burns, Kaz Maslanka, Larry Vogel

Article assist from Claire Slattery and Sidney Wildesmith.

Video, presented by OMA Artist Alliance



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