Art and Automation
When most people think of art, the first words that spring to mind are generally a painting or a sketch; but, if one digs deeper, one may consider a work of literature or a single song from an album to be 'art.' If a textbook definition of art exists, it may be something along the lines of 'making something beautiful; or conveying emotion via the application of human ability and aptitude.' Essentially, art may be found in anything made by man. With the fast advancement of technology in recent years, the blending and blurring of distinctions between what counts as art and what does not is only natural. Because of their shared tendency to please people, art and technology have a deep connection. Art will alter as technology evolves and the goals and the methods to attain artistic development will change, as well. Technology may either hinder or aid creative growth.
The impact of technology on artistic thinking can be observed on a variety of platforms; with the emergence of AI, the function of art in human life has taken on new value. AI art generators like Pixray, Dream by Wombo, Jasper AI and others, construct a picture from a user's word input sometimes referred to as a "prompt". AI art has received a great deal of criticism as it allows artists to express themselves without needing to go through the process of making artwork.
The development of AI writing software and machine translators also has many authors and translators concerned about the future of creative writing and the translating business. Many AI writing assistants, generators, and programmes exist to assist writers in determining what to write next in their works. These use language models involving deep learning (an intricate structure of algorithms modelled on the human brain) to produce comprehensible text when given an initial text prompt. Similarly, machine translation entails computer software that takes an original text, divides it into words and phrases, and then discovers and replaces these with words and phrases in another language, utilising various algorithms, patterns, and enormous databases of current translations. However, automatic translation must be viewed as a tool to assist translators rather than a substitute, because the systems do not function without human intervention. This raises the question - Is AI merely another tool for artists looking to broaden their horizons, or will this new technology eventually replace human skill in the art world?
Music and Machines
Technology has also had a significant impact on the art of music in the twenty-first century. It has transformed how music is transported, kept, heard, played, and created. Sounds that have not been shaped by technology are heard less and less often. The very definition of instruments has changed with digital synthesisers creating sounds similar to piano timbres. Music's essence is evolving as a result of technological advancements, but many musicians still do not fully understand the depth of its reach.
Virtual instruments and MIDI technology enable artists to employ millions of sounds in their music composition, which they may programme and control in various ways. This opens up a lot of creative possibilities for the tech-savvy composer or producer. One such computer-based programme made to aid musical development, is the synthetic voice generator, Vocaloid. In 2000, Kenmochi Hideki worked for Yamaha and created the Vocaloid's initial iteration. The technology has since developed and become widely used. It uses voicebanks made up of real human voices that are commonly connected to characters represented by anime figures. The user may insert the lyrics and tune directly into the program after choosing a voice bank. The programme may change the pronunciation stress, add effects like vibrato, and change the voice's dynamics and tone according to the user’s preference. After that, Vocaloid creates a song using these inputs. Basically, except for “singing” the song themselves, an artist using Vocaloid creates music like any other musician. The software can be said to be a gift for those with a talent to make music, but not much to sing songs.
A song made using Vocaloid is usually listed under two artists, one being the composer and songwriter, and the other being the voicebank. For example, ‘Lag Train’ is composed and written by Inabakumori, and sung by a voice bank called Kaai Yuki. In the same way, ‘Don’t Go’ is produced by Souta, but sung by Kaai Yuki as well. Vocaloid is accessible in five languages: English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. As Vocaloid songs are most popular in Japan, the majority of options are in that language.
The major motivation behind developing Vocaloid was to build an artificial singing voice that would allow anyone to utilise these voices to make music. Previously, persons with little funds and resources could only compose instrumental music due to an inability to pay professional singers. Vocaloid serves as a less expensive, more accessible medium for independent artists to make their songs without needing a singer to perform them. Vocaloid has revolutionised the digital music industry by providing creative flexibility and inspiring many potentially brilliant and distinctive musical artists to follow their passions, however, will these “voiceless” musicians be considered real artists? And will their music be given the same attention and affection as others, over the world?
Help or Harm?
Artists have long looked for fresh art forms and unique means to convey their aesthetic beliefs, as evidenced throughout art history. For a variety of reasons, technology functions as a medium for art - to make art more accessible, simpler, and cost-effective. AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR (virtual reality), and AR (augmented reality), as well as digital designs and 3D printers, have all impacted the modern art and art market in various ways, transforming how art is made, consumed, and shared in our connected world.
AI researchers in the 2010s could only generate hazy, fingernail-sized black-and-white pictures of faces. This was not a direct concern to the world of art. But then, in 2022, when a single amateur can use software like Stable Diffusion to imitate an artist's style in a couple of hours, or when corporations offer AI-generated prints and social media filters that are clear knock-offs of live designers, problems of legality and ethics become much more serious. How should we draw the line that divides the artist and the tools used to create art, when the line itself has begun to blur and become one?
As Technology has expanded, so has the definition of art and it remains to be seen how much of it retains a human touch. Because modern technologies give artists tools of expression they never thought were feasible, the wide range of alternatives currently available to them may occasionally have a severely harmful impact. The repetition and lack of inspiration or soul in the art may increase due to superficial generalisation by technical capabilities and a lack of artist originality.
In this way, technology acts as a double-edged sword that may either enhance or weaken the creative outlook