Creative AI Futures: Theory and Practice

Eva Jäger

Talk given on behalf of the Creative AI Lab, which includes Eva Jäger, Mercedes Bunz, Joanna Zylinska, Alasdair Milne, and Daniel Heras Chaves.

This talk analyses creative activity enabled by ML and recognised under the banner of ‘AI art’ or ‘creative AI’. The theoretical discussion is anchored in the critical reflection on activities of the Creative AI Lab, which is a collaboration between the R&D Platform at Serpentine Galleries and King’s College London’s Department of Digital Humanities. The talk proposes a 5C model (‘Creative - Critical - Constructive - Collaborative - Computation’), which brings together technical research and conceptual inquiry into AI art, while shifting focus from artefacts to their wider contexts, processes and infrastructures. It also outlines directions for future research.

Artists working in different media have been exploring AI’s potential as a creative instrument, nonhuman collaborator and subject of social critique. In this talk, the Creative AI Lab want to stage a theoretical and practical discussion of the problem of artistic practice as enabled by AI and ML, while outlining new directions for future research. This discussion, we suggest, needs to consider a number of conceptual questions:

  • To what extent does the current use of AI technologies in art-making raise bigger questions about the very nature of artistic production and research?
  • How is the role and agency of ‘the artist’ altered at a time when many artistic productions are the result of human-machine collaboration, with the creative output not being subject to human control but rather to the uncertain logic of a deep-learning algorithm?
  • Does AI create new audiences for art – and does it require new skills from those audiences?
  • Do we need new capabilities from our arts institutions in supporting the development of AI-driven art practice, and in enabling its exhibition and public understanding?
  • What role can AI art practice play in inquiring alternative versions of AI and in fostering a public understanding?

Importantly, for us a theoretical discussion of these questions is anchored in the critical reflection on the practical activities in which we have been involved as part of the Creative AI Lab (Serpentine nd). Building on the Lab’s existing collaborations, we want to propose a ‘5C’ model for Creative AI practice and research as a more enabling approach to working at the cross-discipline of ‘creative AI’. Mobilising critical inquiry with creative production and technical expertise, this model entails developing horizontal, non-competitive networks of alliances between academic and cultural institutions dealing with creativity, AI and ML.