Navigating the Wild West of the Emerging AI Art World

Mikael Colville-Andersen
15 min readMay 27, 2023

So I fell down the rabbit hole. Headfirst. As a creator and a photographer, I have been following the emerging progress of AI art creation through articles on the internet with interest and my curiosity got the better of me. I’m cautious about the impact this will have on creative industries — absolutely. There are more and more articles about the potential dangers of AI emerging , like this one and this one. But I won’t stand by and ignore the technology. I want to explore and understand. This is what I’ve learned.

Realistic AI photo art created by the author — but only after a looooong journey

Falling down a rabbit hole is like day drinking. You never plan it. “Just one glass…” becomes, “just one more” until it’s 5 AM and you’re in a foreign country at a rave. Like any rabbit hole journey, it started innocently enough. I read about how a photographer submitted AI “photos” to a competition and won an award, only to admit they were AI and then refusing the award. A very cool way to bring our attention the realistic artwork potential of AI art, as well as the inherent dangers. Like everyone else, I paid $10 last year to generate AI photos of myself through the Lensa photo editing app that I use and that was a giggle.

Lensa App AI images of the author

I had seen numerous articles about AI and they all highlighted the simplicity of it. Just write a simple text prompt and slap it into an AI art generator and off you go! I started simply and… weirdly. “A cute rabbit flying above the Arizona desert”. I have no explanation for that. I have no interest in rabbits and certainly not Arizona. But hey.

A cute rabbit flying above the Arizona desert

Another giggle — which seems to be the general vibe among internet users and articles; this initial “let’s try it and see the funny things we can generate!” I suspect many people play around a bit and then move on. A flash in the pan experience. News outlets obviously latch onto the quirky angle in order to generate wider interest, as we saw with the “cavemen taking a selfie” that did the initial rounds of the internet.

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Mikael Colville-Andersen

Urban designer, author and host of the global documentary series about urbanism, The Life-Sized City. Impatient Idealist.