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How to survive AI

How new tech will change higher art education in 2023

keywords: Online video’s, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence

Danai Fuengshunut and AI

As the world continues to evolve and technology advances, art academies and tutors have had to adjust their teaching methods to keep up. I believe 2023 will be a turning point due to the developments of specific digital technologies. I share my thoughts on the development of online videos, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence and raise questions for higher art education. 

The most obvious way in which technology has already changed art education became evident throughout/as a result of the lockdown during the corona crisis. With the rise of online video tutorials, students can learn and study art & design without attending a physical art academy. There has been an increase in content for professional learning platforms such as Linkedin Learning and Skillshare. And there is an increase in freely available content shared by professionals on platforms such as youtube and Instagram. This increase in online content has made art education more accessible, and more inclusive. The abundance of today’s instructional videos has also led to the question: “Why should art academy students visit the onsite locations?”

Next to online video content, there are emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality, Extended Reality, and Special Effects. These technologies have opened new possibilities for art and design. VR allows artists to create immersive experiences that could not be replicated in the physical world. For example, VR technology allows generating choreographies with dancers who are no longer restricted by gravity. VR technologies allow participants to transfer from observers into experiencers. This can create a deeper learning connection. The use of VR in education can already be found in different disciplines that use serious gaming. Doctors, soldiers and firefighters use it to visualize experiences that would otherwise be too dangerous to explore. Exploring VR opportunities for art & design requires students to have access to these tools and be able to create and explore. This may partially answer the above question. Students will visit the onsite locations to have access to technologies they do not have at home. This will require investments from the art academies. Digital technologies like VR require network capacity, processing power, and network communication to mention a few. These requirements are often still too expensive, and too complex to be bought and developed by singular institutes. “With whom will art academies partnerup and collaborate to be able to upscale this technology for their institutes?” Here lies an opportunity for art academies to connect with universities and other educational institutes.

The development of digital technologies like VR will also raise questions for the art academy about the profile of their students and their vision on the professional practice. For example, will the next-generation fashion designer be fully digital? In 2022 the Willem de Kooning Academy launched a pilot of ‘digital fashion’. Instead of working with tangible fabrics, students worked only with digital technology (CLOD3D) to create their designs. Students worked on digital products such as wearables, collectibles/collectables and phygitals. These items can be collected, co-designed, resold and worn. With increasing opportunities in the digital market, it raises the question: “To what extend should art academy students be interested/selected/skilled/trained in digital technologies?”.

Another emerging digital technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI). What if AI can write our essays, do our research, and create our images? With the development of ChatGPT we are already there. This text robot generates believable essays, working on a computer code or even a lesson plan from minimal instructions. Text produced by AI cannot be identified as plagiarism by plagiarism scanners. Students are using this tool for their exams and assessors do not yet know how to respond. It is not (yet) possible to find out which sources the bot has used and how reliable they are. Students are recommended to select their sources in advance and ask ChatGPT to make a coherent text. I don’t understand the assessors’ concerns because I’m sure we can generate automated feedback as well. I imagine a world in which I publish bot-generated stories on a regular basis and friends in my network have an app that provides automated feedback. In this new Linked-In scenario we have great intellectual friendships and free time as well.

Art academy students can tools like DALL.E2. This can generate unique photos, illustrations, and images by suggesting minimal words. I imagine that like the text-version we’ll soon have a variety of filters we can choose from to put our work in a specific context. For example, the tormented artist, the angry loner, or the positive life coach. The development at this moment influences the markets for; photography, illustration, graphic design, interior design, product design and fashion. Those in favor of AI developments argue this technology can greatly contribute finding efficient use of energy and resources, and/or a more sustainable way of life. At the same time, AI raises critical questions for the market of content-creators. Will AI push down the prices for creative content leaving fewer professional artist and designers to be able to express themselves?  Will AI eventually lead to an existential crisis when we outsource our creativity?  Perhaps we should watch the science fiction movie ‘Her’ (2013) again. In this movie director Spike Jonze shows us a scenario of AI entering and leaving our lives in the near future.

I conclude with a hopeful answer generated by AI: Ultimately, while new technologies have made it easier for artists to create art without attending a physical art academy, traditional art academies still provide an invaluable resource for artists. They provide an environment where artists can learn and hone their skills with the guidance of experienced teachers, as well as an opportunity for artists to collaborate and learn from each other. As such, traditional art academies are still an important part of the art world and are unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon. 


Danai Fuengshunut & AI

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