From those initial insights we wanted to approach the matter from the point of view that best fits and defines PhotoVogue, namely the image and its reproduction (a matter of great concern to Walter Benjamin), and above all Their making and creation—which AI allows us to separate from any real-world reference—and their use. The issues we will touch are far-reaching and disturbing.
Here are some examples.
AI is now able to “learn” with increased autonomy. Still, until now, humans have been required to feed AI the material for the learning process. But what happens if the material is images that can be found on the internet and social media?
Consider, for example, DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, the big players in image creation, which are now democratically available to anyone. By phishing from the multitude of images on the web, these systems can only replicate and thus reinforce the stereotypes and biases that influence the source material and the standards governing their “self-learning” process.
Thus, political and cultural issues are both serious and banal: there is no such thing as a neutral AI, just as no human mind is free from bias, be it cultural or political. For example, how do we envisage addressing these biases, such as a certain perspective of humans that is already conveyed in AI models today, which is biased towards Big Tech’s anthropological and sociocultural vision?
There are many echoes in aesthetics and artistic life regarding the use of artificial intelligence. In fact, AI is capable of producing images in the style of any photographer, with results that are indistinguishable from the shots of the photographer they are emulating. All you have to do is train the AI to do it.
But what about the authenticity, originality, and uniqueness of human works and creations at this point? Could AI be more than a simple derivative? As the fruits of artificial “creativity” explode, what are the consequences for archives of human work?
As an example, consider the work of Robert Capa. Thanks to DALL-E, we have been able to make an image of à la Capa. So we can start with the vast archive of images from Hollywood war movies and invent the lost photos of Omaha Beach. Or we could sharpen the few surviving blurry photos, perhaps supplementing them with other elements we think are useful for the image’s meaning. What would become of the refined poetic quality of those original shots? After all, their essence also lies in the misfortune of those negatives, and their power lies not in the truth of the image but in condemning its trembling and blurring.