Until relatively recently, there was very little buzz around AI outside of video installations, largely because there was no bank of digital images with clear labels.
Without the source material, there could be no AI art as we know it today.
That changed a decade ago when several projects began to supply huge quantities of digital images, sparking an explosion in creativity.
A French collective called Obvious sold a work for more than $400,000 in 2018 after keenly embracing the idea that the AI “created” the work.
That sale became hugely controversial after it emerged that they had used an algorithm written by artist and programmer Robbie Barrat.
“The reason that the Obvious artwork sold, especially at that price, was largely because it was advertised as the first AI artwork to be offered at a major auction house,” said Spratt.
“It was really the art market experimenting with the offering of an AI artwork in step with long-established approaches to the sale of fine art.”
At that moment, she said, there was huge interest in bringing together the tech sector and the art world.
But the tech industry has since been hit by a dramatic economic slump and investment and interest have waned.
Major auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have since worked hard to create separate platforms for selling AI art.
“It’s like they don’t want to sully fine art with these new digital explorations,” Spratt said.
And critics are yet to catch up with the field and really express what is good, bad or indifferent, she reckoned.
“Unfortunately, the AI art discourse is not there yet, but I think it is on its way, and it should come from the field of art history,” she insisted.