AI & Digital Art – Opinion Post

It all kicked off on social media for a 24-hour period, which turned into outright bullying. It was a witch hunt, and the bandwagon was a disgusting display of how quickly negativity spirals in the digital age. There’s been a lot of it lately. Being new to the Twitter platform, it seems like a source for much of that ‘hate’ energy. Perhaps I’ve just not been exposed to that much (thankfully)! Anyway, I posted my tuppence worth on Facebook and thought I’d share here since it’s topical within book publishing and is unlikely to disappear any time soon.

The advancements in technology are astounding; we can all agree. The changes in my lifetime that have opened doors for global collaborations and distribution of art, music and literature are beyond what we could have imagined only a few decades ago. Technological advances have indeed made as many as it has broken.

From handwriting to typewriters to computers and printers. Pigeons, boats, airmail, fax, email and instant electronic delivery of words and art. And as difficult an adjustment as some changes may be at first, many ultimately embrace them.

We’ve been carving art from rock with stones since man stood upright. How much art and expression have changed is magnificent, and none of the changes takes away from how inspiring those first scratchings of creativity and communication embedded into our history, into the rocks, the bones are and always will be.

I remember turning my nose up at ‘digital cameras’ and ‘digital art’ when they were developed. I admit my attitude then lacked maturity, and there was perhaps a bit of snobbery. Now, I have a digital camera permanently attached to my hand! There’s magic in a dark room and effects that cannot be achieved any other way. You know what, it doesn’t have to be one or the other — I appreciate both art forms. And I like that people can capture crisper ‘memories’ in photos without professional skill. It’s (arguably) more accessible.

Going after AI is like going after anything else that was once ‘new’ before it. No, it’s not the same as paint on canvas or a human digital artist layering and developing elements to create a unique piece. It isn’t supposed to be either!

I don’t think any creative should be threatened by AI technology (at this point).

It seems that folk are so quick (on social media) to jump on the attack. Pitchforks out, ready for the witch hunt, taking it out on someone entirely undeserving. Whatever happened to the old sentiment ‘if you’ve not got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’?

And for all of us working in independent/small press publishing, in whatever role, I wonder what we would be doing without technological advancements. Digital artists would not exist. Self/Independent Publishing would not exist as it does now. Haven’t we each experienced archaic attitudes looking down their noses at our work at one point or another? It seems a somewhat hypocritical thing to go on the attack for.

Image generated using text prompted AI

Cancelled!

I wrote my first short story of 2022 and submitted it to a publisher at the weekend.

My aim this year was always to pull away from short story writing (and submitting) to focus on longer works, my coursework and editing.

And I’ve stuck to it pretty rigidly, even when declining offers is painful! But spreading oneself too thin degrades everything.

I’m not going to go into the details of this short story, but I will say that its content, along with recent conversations with other writers, got me thinking; If I had a higher readership, I’d be cancelled.

I know there are many faux pas and taboos that change over time, and my work constantly bears the weight of uncomfortable themes. Horrifying right? One of the reasons I now include content warnings is to support readers sensitive to particular themes. It is not a poor taste marketing strategy. It is genuinely to deter readers that could feel hurt by my work. If I’m doing my job correctly, my work (in horror particularly) should be uncomfortable.

Over the last few years, there has been a notable request for ‘diversity’ from publishers demanding representation from marginalised groups — in a writer’s personal circumstances and in the characters we create to tell our stories. In this quest, many are outright discrimination, the very thing they claim to be trying to ‘correct’. ‘We demand diversity and representation unless you’re a cis white male’ being the most prominent. How dare they! On top of that, these diversity thumpers are dictating the presence of character archetypes in a creative’s work! ‘No LGBTQI+ representation? Better squeeze one in there, to keep everyone happy.’

Well, quite frankly fuck that! I don’t fall in line with any dictatorship! And it has zero place in art of any kind!

I am anti book banning.

I am anti art burning.

I am anti-censorship.

I am anti-dictatorship.

If you don’t like an artist’s material — don’t buy a ticket, don’t read their work and don’t dictate how anyone else should feel about it! Such arrogance is deeply misguided and kills art. It doesn’t promote it; it doesn’t promote equality or diversity. You’re foolish if you think that it does. The great tapestry of creative output is the very definition of diversification and multicultural without a pre-set dictated agenda!