In 2018, an AI-generated portrait in the Old Master style shocked the art world when it sold at Christie’s New York for US$432,500, more than 40 times its low estimate of US$7,000. Since then, AI artwork has exploded into the mainstream, getting all the hype and attention in the art market.
Recently, Bank of China (Hong Kong) jumped on the bandwagon and became the first local bank to participate in the creation of AI art. Joining hands with the bank are Miss Hong Kong Grace Chan and new media artist Henry Chu, who created three unique pieces of AI art on the main themes of the Bank of China’s plan for the future – “Beyond Digital”, “Beyond Green” and “Beyond the border”.
On the occasion, Value met with the artists to learn more about the creative process.
Grace Chan (right) and Henry Chu (left) working with AI
Creating the Art of AI: Combining the Power of Three
AI’s three paintings are correct The Four Tree of Dawn, The four-tree of wine AND Four trees of the South – Quadtree comes from the data processing method adopted this time; while dawn, summer, and south all symbolized beginning and rising.
The entire creation was a collaborative effort between Grace Chan, Henry Chu and AI. Both artists and entrepreneurs, Grace and Henry first verbalized their interpretations of the three themes “Beyond Digital”, “Beyond Green” and “Beyond Border” and fed them into the AI program to produce the first draft.
“The jobs were created by AI first, then I embellished them and made adjustments,” added Henry. “This time, we used a Quadtree analog program and combined the keywords to form the border, which accounts for 14% of the original drawing. It seems like an insignificant detail, but it is the power behind AI.”
The Four Tree of Dawnbased on “Beyong Digital”
Process: From wrestling to quitting
“It was actually an interesting topic,” Henry said. “At first we tried to ‘fight’ AI. I wanted to take the lead in the process, but gradually I began to think: If the AI program is so powerful, why not let it go?”
Henry said: “I believe such a situation will arise in the future. However, AI is only a tool – the soul of a work of art still comes from man. There are times when a sudden burst of inspiration comes. However, we are often distracted by time-consuming tasks in the creative process. And that’s where AI helps – it takes care of the tedious work and lets us focus on our creation.”
Chan added, “We have accepted AI as part of our lives, but at the same time, we need to give it enough space to shine. I never thought HE could achieve so much in art – now that’s an eye opener.”
Four trees of the Southbased on “Beyond the Border”
Inspiration: The limitless possibilities of our future
As parents, Henry and Grace are concerned about the future not only for themselves but also for future generations. “I want to build a better, happier and ideal future for my children. That’s where my inspiration comes from.”
An example is The Four Tree of Dawn, which features the theme of “Beyond Digital.” Grace said the key words chosen were “Intelligence”, “Hope” and “Efficiency”. She described: “If one word had been different, the painting would have changed completely.”
The Sumerian Quadrilateral, representing “Beyond Green”, was Grace’s vision of the future – an urban oasis. “After starting my family, I became more aware of the sustainability of the entire planet.” Henry continued: “The color palette I chose for this painting was green. As Grace and I look to the future, we care about the environment we live in. I believe technology can improve efficiency, which helps reduce unnecessary waste and pollution.”
The third painting, Four trees of the South, is based on the theme “Beyond the border”, with the bridge in the work visualizing the connection between different countries. Before the pandemic, my family traveled a lot. My son was excited every time he crossed the Tsing Ma Bridge, which connects the city center with Hong Kong International Airport. To me, bridge means connecting the world,” explained Grace.
Quadtree of Summer, based on Beyond Green
Next: What happens when the noise is over?
When it comes to the future of AI art, Henry opined, “With new technology comes a new art form. For example, the invention of the camera brings about the art of photography, where artists no longer need to capture a moment through paintings.”
“With computers, digital and interactive art appeared. So I think that whenever a new technology is developed, it generates a new wave. Like a wave in the ocean, it comes and goes in a hurry. After the wave is over, we know what’s worth holding on to.”