Sonal Motla writes about Artificial Intelligence and Art

Sonal Motla writes about Artificial Intelligence and Art

From medical field, public services, technology, nothing will escape its reach. Yet it’s mostly the information we feed and the options we choose, that will determine the results

Sonal MotlaUpdated: Sunday, July 02, 2023, 01:50 PM IST
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Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, recently introduced new generative AI (artificial intelligence) features in virtually all of his company’s products at the developers conference. AI is transforming the world the way the internet changed the world some years ago.

It’s the next big thing. From the medical field, public services, and technology, nothing will escape its reach. Yet it’s mostly the information we feed and the options we choose, that will determine the results.

Be it the medical field, construction industry, design, art, or literature, all are going to be impacted by this advancement. Art & Design cannot be isolated, in fact, they are the very essence of the reflection of the world. Hence, these basic building blocks must be included in the education system for the present generation to be updated and upgraded.

Let’s take an example of architecture. We already witness the influence of AI in parametric architecture with architectural softwares like Mid-journey, Dall-E, etc. that use generative AI to create unique and innovative designs for architects. These softwares are capable of generating new and inspiring ideas for buildings and structures, taking into account factors like space, materials, tectonics and environmental impact, these aid architects in terms of speed and expansion of thought. Architects can explore a wide range of design possibilities that might not have been considered before, leading to more creative designs. This not only saves time and resources but also allows architects to push the boundaries in their field. Technology, here, has progressed from aiding to prompting. AI helps push boundaries for the human mind to explore and the choices one then makes can help carve out the professional’s own identity.

The validity of any profession is directly proportional to the societal and environmental needs of the respective field of the time. Because of this, the education system laid out by the British was to educate and create a class of people, equipped to be servicing their operations in India. The East India Company needed a service class to build railways, factories, machine operators, etc.

The structures built in the British regime, undoubtedly remain iconic and gorgeous to date, after decades of independence we haven’t been able to build enough significant structures as beautiful as created then. This brings us to the realisation that perhaps creativity was not encouraged in younger students for them to become artistic architects, but the emphasis remained to graduate students as skilled technicians. Few and far in between Indian architects who were gifted, rather than honed, have created some fabulous work but they are too few in number for a developing country like India. The educational system then, did not encourage or incubate creativity or entrepreneurship in students, perhaps intentionally, as it did not serve their purpose.

But it’s 75 years since and we as a nation are hopefully coming of age. The New Education Policy 2020, has addressed and laid out a direction that is encouraging. It lays down the ground to address the need of encouraging individuality and creativity in students. There is hope for a holistic education base for students to get a chance to carve their skill sets with their interests and passions is being tried to work at. Each institution too has its own delivery system is being encouraged. More leeway in the delivery of education, within a broad framework is promised in the NEP 2020.

This is an encouraging development and educational institutions need to take the initiative to create their own language, culture and values to incorporate in their institutions.

The same goes for the field of fine art, digital art, functional art, and public art are the new areas that need serious syllabus creation and application. Educational institutions are not factories to pass out a standardised lot of students with prescribed skill sets. Instead, they are havens that encourage logic, rationale, ways of seeing and thinking, reflecting, inferring and introducing them to a holistic environment that encourages creating an individual style of creating. Each institution needs to ask this question, whether the delivery system they adopt is achieving all of this. For example, a fine art student should be able to access knowledge of woodwork, engineering, physics, and technology besides the traditional subjects of painting and drawing. Entrepreneurship and internships among others, are skill sets that can come to use for most students.

There is a fear that AI will replace humans big way. This argument surfaced years ago when the industrial revolution happened as well. But we soon found a way to exist with the machines.

One has to remember that AI will NOT replace human minds. AI may offer innumerable choices, but the choice remains ours — of the humans. AI can’t take decisions. We have to do that. Therefore, one must remember that AI is just a tool, even in the field of art. Nobody can take away the individuality and creativity of an artist.

(Sonal Motla is an art curator and Director at Rachna Sansad, working towards issues on art education, craft and design as a visiting faculty with a few educational institutions like NIFT Mumbai, among others. Send your feedback to: sonal25fpj@gmail.com)

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