A few months ago, a painting made by a machine learning algorithm has sold for 432,500 dollars in a Christies auction. The collective that programmed the ai, suitably named “Obvious”, used code written by another artist as a starting point to train their own neural network, this mere fact, raises a number of questions about the legal, ontological and discursive status of this artwork. Artificial intelligence in one sense or another has been fuelling the imagination of artists for centuries, from Marry Shelley's Frankenstein to Spike Jonze’s Her. The possibility of synthetic beings and the consequence of their existence, fills our imagination as it confirms the most obvious existential risk for humans — refuting the idea of human exceptionality.

Art has been for centuries the very fulcrum of human exceptionality. As manifest in romantic theories of authorship, the artist as a genius and the work of art as autonomous from reality. As it emerges from an imaginary universe which is specific to a certain artist and in historical and contemporary discourse about the position of artists as ‘public intellectuals’, those that can speak truth to power and manifest critical virtue.

What can art offer in the age of machine learning, is not just its explicit description, the fact that is being made by intelligent systems, but the various questions that it raises about how do we understand what being an artist really means today, and about the notion of artificiality in relation to intelligence.

In this talk I will take a closer look at the relationship between art and artificial intelligence by focusing my attention on the public discourse and the legal status of ‘machine-made art’. I will try to unpack the assumptions that this discourse is predicated on, and highlight the extent to which this discourse confirms the romantic idea of art and its author. In doing so I will consider the role of artificial intelligence as a new technology and its potential as a tool to enable new forms of art and new forms of authorship. By introducing the idea of appropriation and a ‘patchwork’ form of authorship to the discourse, artificial intelligence might help challenge long held romantic views of art and artistic studios.

We live in a world in which artificial intelligence is quickly becoming an omnipresent part of our everyday lives. From Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, we are constantly interfacing with digital assistants that can do everything from ordering food to setting alarms. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), by 2020, there will be over 1.3 billion active voicebot users. In this rapidly changing world, it is inevitable that we will see machine-made art become more common.

The question then becomes: what is the legal status of machine-made art? The legal status of machine-made art has been a topic of much discussion and debate. Some believe that machine-made art should be given the same legal status as traditional art, while others believe that it should be given a more limited legal status that is limited to objects that are specifically designed to be art-like.

One of the major assumptions that the legal status of machine-made art discourse is predicated on is the idea that art is an autonomous activity that is created by a solitary artist. This idea is diametrically opposed to the understanding of art that is popularised through pedagogues and artists. According to this view, art is a collaborative process that is created by a group of people who work together to create an artwork. In this way, machine-made art is seen as a violation of the traditional understanding of art.

The legal status of machine-made art is also a topic of debate because it is unclear whether or not machine-made art is actually art. One of the key questions that needs to be answered is whether or not a machine can be considered to be a ‘pure’ form of art. In general, there is a distinction made between ‘pre-made’ and ‘pure’ forms of art. Pre-made art refers to art that is

created before it is actually used or seen by the public. Pure forms of art are art that has not been altered in any way.

There is no universal answer to the question of whether or not machine-made art is actually art. In general, the idea of machine-made art is seen as a violation of the definition of art because it is not a pure form of art. This is because, according to the definition of art, an artwork must be created by a human. Therefore, machine-made art is not seen as a true form of art because it is not created by a human.

On the other hand, some people believe that machine-made art should be given the same legal status as traditional art. This is because, according to this view, machine-made art is just as art as traditional art. In this way, machine-made art would be able to bypass the traditional process of art creation and be accepted more easily into the mainstream.

The legal status of machine-made art is a topic of much debate because it is unclear whether or not machine-made art is actually art.

One of the main questions that needs to be answered is whether or not a machine can be considered to be a ‘pure’ form of art.

In general, there is a distinction made between ‘pre-made’ and ‘pure’ forms of art. Pre-made art refers to art that is created before it is actually used or seen by the public. Pure forms of art are art that has not been altered in any way.

There is no universal answer to the question of whether or not machine-made art is actually art. In general, the idea of machine-made art is seen as a violation of the definition of art because it is not a pure form of art. This is because, according to the definition of art, an artwork must be created by a human. Therefore, machine-made art is not seen as a true form of art because it is not created by a human.

On the other hand, some people believe that machine-made art should be given the same legal status as traditional art. This is because, according to this view, machine-made art is just as art as traditional art. In this way, machine-made art would be able to bypass the traditional process of art creation and be accepted more easily into the mainstream.

The public discourse surrounding the legal status of ‘machine-made art’ is predicated on a number of assumptions. First, it is assumed that artificial intelligence qualifies as art. Second, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is a new form of art. Third, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is an creator of art. Fourth, it is assumed that artificial intelligence can be attributed to a certain author. Fifth, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is capable of creating high-quality art.

The first assumption is perhaps the most controversial. Although artificial intelligence has been described as art in the public discourse, there is no consensus on what makes an artefact ‘artificial’. Some argue that all artefacts that are not produced by humans are artificial, while others claim that only artefacts that are explicitly designed to be exhibited as art are artificial. Regardless of the definition, the second assumption is likely the most important. According to this assumption, artificial intelligence qualifies as a form of art because it is perceived as being unique, complex and innovative. In the public discourse, artificial intelligence is often visualised as a ‘machine-made’ form of art.

The third assumption is perhaps the least controversial. According to this assumption, artificial intelligence is a form of art because it is perceived as being the result of human creativity. In the public discourse, artificial intelligence is often visualised as an ‘artificial’ creator of art. This assumption is supported by the fact that artificial intelligence is capable of creating a wide variety of artefacts, including paintings, sculptures and movies.

The fourth assumption is also supported by the fact that artificial intelligence is capable of creating a wide variety of artefacts. However, the fifth assumption is less certain. Although artificial intelligence is capable of creating high-quality art, it is not always able to create art that is recognised as being of the same quality as traditional art.

The public discourse surrounding the legal status of ‘machine-made art’ is predicated on a number of assumptions. First, it is assumed that artificial intelligence qualifies as art. Second, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is a new form of art. Third, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is an creator of art. Fourth, it is assumed that artificial intelligence can be attributed to a certain author. Fifth, it is assumed that artificial intelligence is capable of creating high-quality art. The first assumption is perhaps the most controversial and the fifth assumption is less certain.

Bio

Gabrielle Gauthey is a copyright law lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She holds an LL.B from the Sorbonne University and an LL.M from University College London where she specialised in Copyright, Information and Technology Law. She defended her PhD dissertation in February 2018 at the University of Edinburgh. During her doctoral studies, she worked on the EU copyright law reform, the status of user-generated content under EU copyright law, and on the legal status of artworks created by artificial intelligence. She is currently working on a book exploring how copyright law regulates artificial intelligence and user-generated content and how the law responds to the ways in which users engage with new technologies and new forms of art.

Bio

Dries Lyna is a PhD researcher at the University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the legal status of ‘machine-made art’, with a particular focus on the public discourse and the ways in which this discourse reinforces romantic ideas of art. He has published on the subject in various journals, including the International Journal of Law in Context, the Journal of Law and Society, and the European Intellectual Property Review.

Bio:

Dr. Tom Gasser is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests and publications cover the fields of copyright, intellectual property, cultural property, art law, digital media and information law. His authored monograph "The Right to Copy: Copyright and Culture in the Age of Intellectual Property" was published by Edward Elgar Publishing in 2014.

Dr. Denise De Cordova is a lecturer in Art and Law and Co-Director of the Lloyd Grieves Centre for Contemporary Art at Birkbeck University. Her research considers the ways in which art and technology are governed and the legal frameworks that emerge to govern the relationship between art and technology. She is co-organiser of the Art, Law and Technology Research Network and the London Arts and Humanities Partnership Access toArts programme. Her book Invalid Data: Art, Legal Values and the Economy of the Artwork is forthcoming with Ashgate. She is curator of the exhibition Data Sensations with James STURM (Festival of New Cinema and New Media, Montreal, October 2014) and also curator of Data Sensations: Translating Data into Art (Innova, Liverpool John Moores University, 9 May – 16 August 2014). She is currently working on a project titled Advocating Art: Technologies of Law, Art and the Avant-Garde.