October 2023: News Roundup

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To AI or not to AI? Fascinating as it is Artificial Intelligence has been the subject of controversy across the art world for the past few years. The interrelation of humans and machines has sparked issues of authorship in courts, such as the recently scrutinized Théâtre d’Opéra Spatial, and ignited pleas from artists, writers, and performers to prevent copyright protection for AI-generated works. Meanwhile, a multi-tentacled bird produced with Augmented Reality flaps its wings above the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and a mechanical toy bear patrols a deconsecrated Roman chapel amid a garden of poisonous plants. Who’s side are you on? Scroll down to find out more!

Another A.I.-Generated Artwork Was Denied Copyright Protection, Adding a New Knot to the Complexities of Creative Ownership

The U.S. Copyright Office recently denied copyright protection to an AI-generated artwork, Théâtre d’Opéra Spatial, declaring it lacked human authorship. This decision follows previous rejections of copyright claims for AI-generated creations, including a comic book and artwork by artist Jason Allen. The outcome raises concerns for the digital art field, potentially leaving AI-generated works unprotected. However, a new USCO rule allows copyright if a human contributes a significant creative effort. The international perspective on AI copyright varies, with no clear definition of “author.” Questions arise about the extent of human input in AI creations and the role of AI tools in art.

Théâtre D'opéra Spatial (2022)
Jason Allen, Théâtre d’Opéra Spatial (2022) at the Colorado State Fair.

Chimeric Creature Descends on the Whitney Museum in New Augmented Reality Commission

The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is set to unveil a captivating augmented reality (AR) installation titled CENTO by new media artist Nancy Baker Cahill. The site-specific project, debuting on October 3, features a hybrid creature blending elements of mycelium, cephalopod, bird, and machine. It aims to emphasize the need for interspecies cooperation in addressing the climate crisis, challenging the traditional separation of humans from the natural world. Visitors can interact with the creature using the 4th Wall app, contributing to its evolution. CENTO explores ecological communities and modes of communication in the context of the climate crisis.

Chimeric creature
Nancy Baker Cahill’s CENTO (2023). Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Poisonous Plants and an Animatronic Bear: Precious Okoyomon Fills Roman Chapel With a Garden of Unearthly Delights 

New York-based Nigerian-American artist Precious Okoyomon presents The Sun Eats Her Children, a unique living, permacultural environment featuring a semi-conscious animatronic stuffed bear as its central sculpture. The bear, named after Toni Morrison’s character in Beloved, lies amidst a dense, fragrant garden in a deconsecrated Roman chapel. This immersive installation balances the horrifying and the comical, addressing themes of racism, colonialism, and resistance. The exhibition blends soundscapes, fragrances, and unchecked plant growth to create a powerful commentary on various topics, including Black bodies, power, migration, and family relations. 

Installation view of Precious Okoyomon
Installation view of Precious Okoyomon’s The Sun Eats Her Children at Sant’ Andrea de Scaphis, Rome. Courtesy of Sant’Andrea de Scaphis.

Getty Releases AI-Image Maker Trained on Company’s Data

Getty Images has introduced a proprietary AI tool, Generative AI by Getty Images, aimed at generating images from its extensive digital media collection. This move allows Getty to mitigate copyright concerns that have affected AI firms. Developed in collaboration with Nvidia, the software was trained on company data and limited photographic content. Getty’s CEO, Craig Peters, assures that the tool will only use its creative library to avoid deepfake distribution and copyright infringement. Getty plans to compensate artists whose work contributed to the AI model. This initiative aims to provide a more commercially viable and artist-friendly option in the AI image creation market.

Getty Images
Digitally generated image of multi-colored vertical bars. Concept of fintech technology, new banking, investment, cloud technology, and AI.

Artists, Writers, Performers, and Their Advocates Call on US Congress to Ban Companies From Copyrighting AI-Generated Art

A coalition of organizations, including the Freelancers Union, United Musicians and Allied Workers, Media Alliance, RootsAction, Open Markets Institute, and Fight for the Future, has designated October 2nd as “AI Day of Action” to urge the US Congress to pass legislation preventing corporations from copyrighting art primarily created with significant artificial intelligence elements. The move comes in response to concerns that AI-generated content could diminish artists’ rights. The US Copyright Office has previously ruled against copyright registration for AI-generated work. The ongoing debate over AI and copyright involves concerns about fair compensation for artists, potential job displacement, and the need for regulatory oversight in the field of artificial intelligence. 

US Congress to ban companies from copyrighting AI-generated art
The US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo by MIKE STOLL on Unsplash.


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