AI Cannot Replace Intentional Art

Regardless of its counterintuitivity, the viewing of art without any context or bias is exceedingly rare. Perceivers of art will inevitably always tend to show some sort of bias when viewing a work, frequently from knowledge about the creator, their reasons for creating, or a preconceived notion surrounding it. We often look to the creator’s intentionality for the art, which in turn affects how we both interpret and connect personally with the piece. 

This deeply counterintuitive practice of judging art has a brand new application in the world of the 2020s, with the rise of Artificial Intelligence. While the art produced by these non-human creators can indeed theoretically be perceived with 100% objectivity, with regard only to its aesthetic and personal value, and without any influence from its inhumanness, I’m here to say that this propensity becoming the norm is fallacy. Because of the inevitable artist-bias, people will always have stronger connections to Art that is produced by living humans, rather than emotionless, intentionless algorithms. Therefore, AI can never replace the passionately created intentional art of Human Artists.

To understand how viewer connections with art rely heavily on the presence of human emotions within, we must first understand the fundamental relationships between emotion and art. Since the dawn of organized thought in humans, art has been used consistently as a form of emotional expressionism. On cave walls, we expressed our feelings of pain and loss through depictions of battles and bloodshed. George Seurat’s opinions on the differences in social class are thought to have inspired him to create his masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon…” painting. Emotions from real-life events and ideas are often what cause artists, of the paleolithic era and of today, to create the art in which they create. In the article titled How Does Art Express Emotion the author, Ismay Barwell, argues that “How works of art can be expressive of emotion and thus sad, happy, or melancholy must pose itself as a problem for anyone who believes both that works of art are not conscious entities and that only conscious entities can have feelings and emotions.” Ismay, a philosophy professor at Victoria University in Wellington, is arguing that inanimate objects must be able to express real emotions, citing art as his primary example. I agree with Ismay that art simply as individual work can cause a reaction of emotions. However, I argue that the known intentions of the artist can also add, or notably subtract, value from the viewer’s experience.

The Artist Intention theory is a long-debated counterintuitive topic that can never definitively be proven as truth or fallacy due to its deeply personal nature. However, as it pertains to whether or not the artist behind the art matters, it is extremely important to explore further. Literary artist L.N. Tolstoy claims in his book What is Art? that an artist has only created a genuine work of art when he “hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them.” While this can just be written off as one man’s opinion, it’s important to note that L.N. Tolstoy is considered one of Russia’s greatest figures in literature. As an artist himself, Tolstoy openly recognizes the importance of expressing emotions through art, but simultaneously how the presence of artists’ OWN emotions in their art affects its quality, value, and, most importantly, relatability. 

The deepest connections we make with any type of art will always be that of seeing ourselves within it. When we look at a certain painting or listen to a certain song, our most profound reactions are always those found within ourselves. When you see yourself in a work of art, the connection is visceral. I argue that this emotional bond between art and self can be tarnished by Artist’s Intentionality. A movie that you resonated deeply with may be irreversibly ruined for you if it is revealed that the filmmaker was abusive to their cast. This contamination of art connection, while a deeply sad truth, is inevitable and ever-present already in our society.

To examine how Artificial Intelligence being discovered as the creator of a work will impact a viewer’s perception of the work, I’d like to briefly make a connection to a string of events taking place in pop culture. The phrase “Separate the Art from the Artist” has been brought to recent spotlight with the rise of cancel culture in our society, most recently and notably with Kanye West. Previous lovers of the rapper’s art around the world have had their bonds with his music broken because of his recent racist outburst. In the article Separating Art from the Artist is Impossible, journalist Kofi Mframa claims that “this phrase [separating art from the artist] is just a lazy cop-out that gives fans an excuse to not think critically as to why they continue to support problematic artists… To remove an artist from their creations decontextualizes their work and leaves it devoid of meaning.” It’s important to note this source is opinion-writing and is merely being used as an example of such, however, I believe it provides great insight into the minds and ideologies of our current society. This opinion, written in the Independent Press of Virginia Commonwealth University, shows how it is becoming increasingly impossible for people to perceive art entirely independently from its creator. 

For better or worse, since the society of the 2020s has proven unable to prohibit human artists’ flawed intentions, emotions, or opinions from impacting their perception, who’s to say we will be able to separate A.I.’s own such qualities from their created works, or their COMPLETE lack thereof. I argue that that “lack thereof” would prove even more detrimental to their perception, because it’s not only a revealed character flaw, it’s a revealed lack of any emotional backing whatsoever.

Overall, while it may be possible to view art without any artist-bias, it is an exceedingly rare practice and becomes rarer each day. The state of our emotional connections to art is influenced by our knowledge of the artist’s intentions, cultural and social contexts, or the complete and utter “lack thereof”. AI-generated art may be visually impressive and individually relatable, but it lacks the emotional depth and intentionality that makes human-made art so much more meaningful and powerful. As a result, AI can never replace the passionate and intentional art of human artists, and our emotional connections to art will always be tied to the human experience.

Barwell, I. (1986). How does art express emotion?. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 45(2), 175-181.

Denner, M. A. (2003). Accidental art: Tolstoy’s poetics of unintentionality. Philosophy and Literature, 27(2), 284-303.

Tolstoy, L. (1899). What is Art?. United Kingdom: Crowell.

Kofi Mframa. (2022, October 27). Separating art from the artist is impossible The Commonwealth Times. The Commonwealth Times.

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2 Responses to Causal–SinatraMan17

  1. davidbdale says:

    “AI Cannot Replace Intentional Art”
    Intentionally or accidentally (I presume intentionally), you’re positioning your argument along a time-honored opinion spectrum, SinatraMan. You’ll have to acknowledge that AI-generated art can be aesthetically very pleasing, that it can display perfect composition, that its technique can be breathtaking (and indistinguishable from human technique BECAUSE it is an amalgam of thousands of examples of human technique: literally a distillation of the best examples), etc., etc. No matter how much we may complain, AI art can be designed to exemplify combinations of talents no single human artist known to us at present has combined into a single brush, palette knife, spray can. So the obvious but daunting Causal Argument for you has to be: WHY do we value whatever it is we value about art made by humans? “Resistant” artists have tried to mechanicalize their processes; they’ve tried to “take themselves out” of the production; they’ve tried to thwart “purpose” and “intentionality”; they’ve done so to resist having their art be valued for their personalities or biographies instead of for the end product. They’ve largely failed. We insist on valuing art for our sense that it was produced BY and therefore tells us something ABOUT the artist. The Biography of the novelist informs our reading; the sexual history of a filmmaker distorts our understanding of and appreciation for their movies; a composer’s last symphonies are valued more than his first because “being deaf, he never heard them himself.” In other words, we romanticize artists and the artistic process, and therefore DEPEND on the artist’s INTENTIONALITY as essential to the value of the product. It’s an argument very much worth having. Go to it. Recognize as you do that as AI generation matures, creators will be able to fine-tune the amount of intuitivity and counterintuitivity they add to the recipe. They’ll get better at mimicking the idiosyncrasies of creativity that help us recognize (trick us into recognizing) the human-ness of art’s creators. [And, unlike human, say, painters, they’ll be able to preview hundreds of variations of the finished work without the effort of painstakingly producing them at the cost of months of effort.] So, again. WHY do we value art made by humans? Because it was made by humans? For what it tells us about the artists? Because of what it tells us about ourselves?



    • sinatraman17 says:

      Helpful, thank you.

      As I write more and read more on this topic, I’m surprisingly struggling a lot remaining on my side of the argument. Even though I DO still believe it’s true, it’s getting increasingly hard to PROVE my claim that AI Artists CAN’T create true/new art. I recognize your point on how AI’s can indeed produce art that is aesthetically pleasing and, by some definitions, is in fact “new”. I agree with your recommendation for my Causal Argument topic, and I intend to pursue it– I’m just wondering whether you think I should revise my Claim so it somehow recognizes and conveys the idea that: YES, AI Artists do in fact create “Art”, but THIS is what we’re losing if we let AI Artist’s take over, and that’s why they should never replace Human Artists. (something like that)

      I am very passionate and will stick to my guns that Human Art will always trump AI Art, just would appreciate your input on this before I get too far into writing the short arguments.


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