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The impacts of artificial intelligence are already being felt across the industry, and there's huge potential for disruption in areas we haven't yet anticipated.

What Gagosian’s AI Press Release Means for Art Professionals

Exhibition view: Alex Israel, Fins, Gagosian Rome (12 May–28 July 2023). Courtesy the artist and Gagosian. Photo: Matteo D'Eletto M3 Studio.

On 27 April I received a press release from Gagosian.

It came from the usual press email, with the usual Gagosian letterhead. Unusually, it led with the text 'Press Release by ChatGPT'.

The release, indistinguishable in quality from so many others, was for Alex Israel's exhibition Fins, which runs at Gagosian Rome from 12 May to 28 July. The show features luminous sculptures of scaled up surfboard fins, which rise from the floor like waves—nothing to do with AI.

Gagosian isn't the most tech-forward gallery. They didn't rush head-first into NFTs or the metaverse. Curiosity piqued, I reached out to their press team for clarification.

Were they using the technology to improve their efficiency? Were they concerned they'd lose their jobs? Or might the use of AI allow them to focus on building relationships with journalists and developing more creative stories to tell about their artists?

None of the above. The Chat GPT press release was conceived and created by the artist.

'It was a real time saver!' Israel enthused.

He said it was his first time generating a press release this way, and that it was straightforward, requiring no editing after packing the prompt with the right details.

Regarding the implications, Israel simply said, 'New tool, new world.'

Alex Israel. Photo: Jack Pierson.

Alex Israel. Photo: Jack Pierson.

Of course, not everyone likes the sound of this new world, and artists have begun to push back.

In January, three of them filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of AI image tools Stable Diffusion and Midjourney, as well as the image-sharing platform DeviantArt, for pulling their work using the LAION dataset. LAION is a collection of 5.6 billion images scraped from online sources including DeviantArt, ArtStation, Getty Images, and Pinterest.

To some extent, though, the AI-artist genie is already out of the bottle. Many artists will need to change their practices to differentiate their work from AI creations, just as many moved away from realism after the invention of photography.

Other art workers are likewise being impacted.

In our own experiments using ChatGPT to create content, we've found it too loose with the facts and too broad in its prose to provide more than a rough outline of an article, an artist bio, or a city guide.

Nevertheless, as journalist Rachel Zheng demonstrated, AI is already being used to help write, edit, and translate content, and it will only become more capable. ChatGPT's successor, GPT-4 is eight times more powerful at processing language and can also process images. We will also get better at prompting it to get the results we want.

An even bigger threat for art media is the integration of AI in search tools like Bing (available since February) and Google (whose Bard bot has been available since March, and will be integrated in their Search Generative Experience in the coming weeks). If a chatbot can provide the information you need without visiting a website, who needs the website?

What Gagosian’s AI Press Release Means for Art Professionals Image 65

Courtesy Alex Israel.

AI will also be invaluable to art restorers and authenticators (functions pointed out by ChatGPT when I asked for its help on this article), and market analysts, as well as bad actors, such as forgers, to name just a few.

Back in 2018, Karthik Kalyanaraman, who organised an important early exhibition of AI art at New Delhi gallery Nature Morte, told me he expected even curators and critics, who have some of the most cerebral and creative jobs in the art world, to be impacted. They won't be able to match the technology's ability to pull from countless artists worldwide and deep into the recesses of art history to draw out new themes and narratives in art.

Returning to Israel's assessment of AI—'New tool, new world'—the question for many of us is this: will we be the ones employing AI to do our jobs more effectively? Or will they be used by someone higher up the food chain to replace us? —[O]

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