The Impenetrable Beehive Mind of the Internet is a better artist than me. That’s not a point of contention, that’s a fact. Sure I can write, but you shouldn’t witness the slapdash nature of my attempts at oil painting – all those atrocities lingering on a basement shelf. Even the worst AI image generators and theirs strange obsessions with certain wardrobes have an odd – almost disturbing – fluid quality that makes each attempted depiction so distinctive.
Aside from the question of whether AI-generated images are legitimate “art,” the best system-produced images are more than just means to create weird nightmares Depictions of celebrities in different art styles. At the same time, it is not enough for the digital artist to vaguely offer an impressionistic, oddly shaped “interpretation” of the original images or user prompts.
In all this jostling between technology and art, there is a middle ground that even the most untrained in the art of painting on canvas can understand. What can inspire us? What can fascinate us? This is what AI image generators are capable of.
Most people can’t get their hands on the robust program like Dall-E, and personally I’m not ready to twiddle my thumbs until it’s finally my turn on the waiting list. Dall-E 2 seems like a very strong competitor compared to the many online versions available, although I’d be curious to see how well it compares to the more ‘art-based’ AI generators.
So we turn to the free AI art generators, or at least the ones that offer free trial options. To best rank each program, I gave them all the same, rather esoteric, text prompts based on some books I’ve read recently. These books include:
Under the pendulum sun by Jeanette Ng
Prompt: “A man and woman stand under a pendulum sun in the heart of Arcadia.”
The dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin
Prompt: “A lonely mathematician stands on a dusty planet and owns nothing.”
A memory called Empire by Arkady Martine
Prompt: “A strange woman fights alone against the machinations of a cosmic empire.”
There are several image generators that require photos instead of text prompts. As much as I’d like to keep it consistent, I’d rather exclude different systems than them. For the image generation platforms that don’t allow text prompts, I used the same image for each:
I’m no art critic, but at least I can tell if AI generated art actually attempted to represent a prompt in a way that wasn’t derived or relied upon Copying and Replicating Art found in the Internet.
To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the results from some of the more popular free art generators. Let’s take a look, shall we?