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I didn’t grow up going to art galleries. There may have been a few in my hometown, but my parents were usually busy taking my sister and I to soccer games on the weekend. 

Thinking back, my first real experience at a gallery was at the Louve in Paris. It was our first ever international trip and I still remember getting to visit the Mona Lisa and being shocked at how small it was. I felt confused because accross the room was a painting the size of the entire wall. I didn’t have the words back then, but in retrospect that moment perfectly captures how some things don’t fit in with how we’re taught to understand what is valuable. 

In Richmond, “First Fridays” are held by galleries in the Arts District. Each month during fall, they’ll open up to the public with food, drink, and music — all showcasing local talent in the city. It’s a great spot for hanging out with friends, planning a date night, or flying on a solo adventure in the city. Personally, I recommend doing all three. 

Recently, a few of my friends got into a conversation with a gallery owner. They just opened this year and were talking about a specific piece where the artist had passed away just a few years ago. Hearing that story added depth and meaning to the work. We went from being casual observers of something pretty to imagining what decisions went into the hundreds of strokes in that painting. 

But this in-person experience is completely different from laying in bed looking at digital art on our phones. Even moreso, there’s a lot of worry that AI art will replace human artists. 

Assuming AI and Art is here to stay, I’d love to imagine a future where AI credits what sources of inspiration digital art is derived from. A simple meta description list of A, B, C inputs would be a great start. This could be expanded of course, but people could then see the thinking and sources behind the AI-work enter a world of discovery. This democratization of art and making things more accessible for people is something I am cautiously optimistic about. 

And I don’t know the cost structure of maintaining an AI. But I am worried about starving artists who will be priced out of their practice by these digital creations. Financially, this makes me think about how we might apply a royalty system to each accredited work of art. 

So in theory, if an AI was to create something based on those A, B, C inputs — with a royalty system, all three of those inputs (human art) would be awarded money.  Blockchain technology comes to mind. And by building a tokenized-attribution-relationship, we can see how human art is combined with AI to show up in different ways. Talk about going down a rabbit hole.

So how does AI and human art live in harmony? Something innately human is imagining alternatives. We see this across all areas in life.

  • “I would have built the living room floorplan differently” 
  • “We’re different, how could we replace the metric system”
  • “What if we reinvented coffee with pumpkin spice?”

But with art sometimes it’s hard for us to ‘imagine alternatives’ and put our minds into the frame of a painting. Here’s a quick outline of how AI might accelerates this. 

  • Eating an apple (original)
  • Eating an apple with (AI inputs from other works)
  • Eating an apple with (AI inputs from other works)
  • Eating an apple with (AI inputs from other works)

So imagine single room with human art as the centerpiece. Along the walls could be the AI derivatives. We could then see examples of possible alternatives or the original work is extended into worlds.

In addition, you could also have the AI art as the centerpiece in the room and accompany it with the human art along the walls. This is all possible through tokenized human-and-AI-attribution.

My optimistic takeaway — AI could expand how we imagine possible interpretations of art and increase the value of original human work.