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E51 - The Debate on AI-Generated Art: AI as a Tool vs. AI as Art with Lena Robinson
Episode 5110th May 2024 • Creatives With AI • Futurehand Media
00:00:00 01:06:03

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Lena Robinson, founder of the online FTSQ Gallery, discusses the intersection of AI and creativity. She shares how her unconventional upbringing shaped her passion for the arts, emphasises the importance of creativity in all fields, including business and technology, and highlights the ongoing debate in the art community about whether AI-generated art can be considered true art.

Takeaways

  • Creativity is not limited to traditional artistic skills like drawing or painting; it also includes creative thinking and problem-solving.
  • AI can be a powerful tool for artists, allowing them to explore new concepts and bring their visions to life.
  • The acceptance of AI-generated art is still a topic of debate in the art community, with questions about its authenticity and artistic value.
  • The artist's skill, vision, and ability to craft their ideas are still essential in creating meaningful and impactful art, regardless of the tools used.
  • AI can enhance and complement the creative process, but it does not replace the artist's role in conceptualising and executing their ideas. Depending on one's perspective, AI can be seen as both a tool for creating art and a form of art itself.
  • Art that challenges traditional definitions and provokes thought can be found in unexpected places, such as Tracy Emin's bed installation and Marcel Duchamp's urinal.
  • The future of AI in the creative field is uncertain, but it is likely to follow patterns seen in previous technological advancements, with the establishment of ethical guidelines and regulations.
  • While AI can provide unbiased and balanced responses to ethical questions, it lacks true empathy and instinct, which are unique to human creativity.
  • Data can be valuable, but relying solely on data may limit creative decision-making, as instinct and gut feelings play a significant role in the creative process.

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Thanks for listening, and stay curious!

//david

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Transcripts

David Brown [:

Well, hello, everybody. Welcome to the Creatives with AI podcast. I'm your host, David, and on today's show, we have Lena Robinson. Hi, Lena, how you doing?

Lena Robinson [:

Good, thank you. How are you?

David Brown [:

Yeah, very well. We met at a communications event a few months ago and hit it off like a house on fire. And I've been wanting to have you on the podcast ever since. So I'm glad to have you here today for everybody listening; Lena is from New Zealand, so for my American listeners who don't really know what a New Zealand accent sounds like, you're about to find out. And, yeah, welcome.

Lena Robinson [:

Thank you. It's nice to be here. I'm really excited. It's going to be an interesting conversation today, I think.

David Brown [:

Yeah, I hope so. We always end up chatting for ages and saying totally outrageous things, so we'll see how it goes. But maybe start off by telling. Yeah, maybe start off by telling us sort of how you got here. I mean, obviously, you know, you started off in New Zealand, but how did you end up here and doing what you're doing at the minute?

Lena Robinson [:

Sure. So the New Zealand bit's always going to be obviously quite pertinent because, you know, that's my background, and it kind of gives me a view on the world, which is maybe being open to things a little bit more. Had quite a unconforming upbringing, I guess. And as a result of that, I've always liked to look at, you know, being attracted to the arts and literature and all that kind of thing, but also was always open to lots of science and technology and that kind of thing. Although I do not pretend to be a technologist at all, but I do, I'm excited by curiosity and all the rest of it. So what brought me here to the UK was my grandmother's from Scotland, and I kind of wanted to have a go see what was going to happen from a career perspective in the UK. And I ended up being in the advertising industry for a really long time, doing global and UK-based new business and marketing for big agencies on their behalf, not their clients, and had a great career in that. And then set up my own agency eventually, which was an agency for other agencies, so doing branding and marketing for them, but.

Lena Robinson [:

And that was 2014, then 2018, I set up a new business, decided to sell that to my partner, and that was called FTSQ, which stands for fuck the status quo. So you're gonna get an insight into who I am, kind of like challenging things a little bit, and then got ill for quite a long time. And then during the recovery and part of the pandemic sort of recovery for all of us. I really looked at the world that I'd always been passionate about because I took art and photography and design at school and I kind of went back to that and just sort of thought, I'd really like to help the nonconformist micro group, which is big of artists. So in 2022, I set up a online art gallery and I'm running both businesses. But, you know, the gallery, I think, is probably more what we'll be talking about mostly today. That's kind of what's brought me to here and kind of, kind of why I've got the foot in both camps from the corporate marketing business side as well as the art side, with what probably we're going to be talking about today. So that's why AI is really interesting for me in the creative world of both marketing, branding and advertising, as well as art.

David Brown [:

When you say you had an unconventional upbringing, what does that mean?

Lena Robinson [:

So my mother is a Jehovah's Witness, so I got brought up on one level at a really religious kind of level. However, she was quite open-minded, quite hippy-ish. My mum and my dad wasn't one, so I had this balance of the two. But my dad, both of them are really creative, actually. They were in the horticultural world for most of my life. But dad did his degree in art history and anthropology, and so he always, him and I have always had that connection around, but we are, from his perspective and his group of friends, we always had artists and musicians because he's a musician as well, musicians and really creative, artistic, hippie-ish type, bohemian type people going in and out of my life. So, from that perspective, and growing up in rural New Zealand, having that going on was quite unusual. Normally, if you did have that kind of environment, it would have been more city-based, which they were from the city originally in Auckland.

Lena Robinson [:

But yeah, that unconventionality and that love of, you know, we're still like this. Every Friday, I have a conversation with them on FaceTime, and we're always talking about art, or we'll talk about something new that they've found or a new thing that we've got, and we'll go, you know, we'll go deep dive into rabbit holes of conversations about philosophy and all sorts of things. So, you know, that it was really. It was a good way to be brought up, really, to have a very broad mind, almost polymath approach to the world, you know, and I feel really privileged, actually, that I've got that relationship with my parents. Yeah, it's pretty cool.

David Brown [:

Yeah. And that sounds amazing. And I know we've talked about this before, you know, because I grew up, and I grew up outside of Memphis in a suburb and spent a lot of time with my grandparents and they had 300 acres of farmland and lived on 35 acres with woods and all that sort of stuff. So I had a. A very similar sort of upbringing. And I, you know, I think you are probably. Well, it's probably similar, I think, in a lot of ways, except the difference was, is that the environment that I grew up in was a very conservative kind of environment. I mean, the US politics is, you know, it's a spectrum, and it's a bell curve, like everywhere else, except the US bell curve is like three steps to the right of pretty much everywhere else.

David Brown [:

And probably. Probably. I don't know about New Zealand specifically, but I would imagine it's still to the right of where New Zealand was, and I was never encouraged.

Lena Robinson [:

Depends where you are in New Zealand, I think, because some of rural New Zealand can be quite right, but it has a huge left green kind of approach to the world as well, so it depends. Yeah.

David Brown [:

Yeah. I wonder if we'll come back to that in a second. But, yeah, anyway, so I was never encouraged to go down the arts route, really. And I think that's a big difference between the two of us. Nobody in my family was particularly artsy and, you know, we didn't play music or anything, really like that. And so I missed out on that when I was younger. And it's only as I've come into sort of middle age that I've actually really started to become a bit more creative myself. So, going back to the rural thing.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah, sorry, carry on now.

David Brown [:

Go on.

Lena Robinson [:

No, it's just interesting that you talk about that bit of it because I was given the freedom of expression with regards to arts and everything, and yet I ended up in a very corporate life for a really long time, which is kind of weird because it's like the flip of what I was kind of brought up like. But in some ways, I'm kind of. I'm glad I. Although I don't never really fitted and I was the maverick, always in the sort of square peg, in the round hole kind of thing. I'm glad I learnt that because what it did teach me was understanding the commercial side of, you know, artists constantly struggle with not making money. And what I wanted to be able to bring and help was, how do I help them use all those skills? I'm actually really glad, although it kind of bulked at it a lot, I'm really glad that I ended up doing that bit of it.

David Brown [:

Well, it is two sides of a coin, really. Right. And like you said, a lot of people that are creative from the beginning have this sort of anti-business thing, but it's, if you're going to be a successful artist, you need to understand the business side as well because you still have to market your skills and you still have to, you know, be able to get out and make money by doing your art. And so you do need to know both. And I think in business, I mean, I've worked for, you know, startups for nearly 35 years now. Well, 30 years now. And, you know, creativity is a huge part of doing a startup business. Even if you're a, you know, a deep tech database company, you still need to have those creative aspects.

David Brown [:

And I tell you what, software engineers, as much as they like to claim and feel that they're scientists, they're also hugely imaginative and creative because they have to come up and they have to come up with creative solutions. It's not necessarily drawing like your traditional arts, but it is still very much a creative activity. I think people miss out on that.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah, no, I totally agree with you on that. I think what's really interesting is people go, oh, I'm not creative when they mean, what they mean is they can't draw or they can't create a thing. But my challenge to them always has been there's also creative thinking. And to say a scientist isn't creative, whoever says that, and obviously you see that as well, you know, that a creative is. A scientist is creative. They've got to be, they're constantly experimenting, you know, that curiosity to find new things. You know, that's what drives creative minds and creative thinking. And there's so many different ways to be creative.

Lena Robinson [:

It's not just the ability to be able to pick up a pencil and draw something or pick up a mouse, do something on a mouse pad or whatever it is, or using one of the new pencils with the apple thingies or whatever, and draw something. You know, this, yeah, this is broader, so much broader than that. And I think that ability that, I think one of the things that artists struggle with with regards to business is business is in its functionality for many, many years, has been created by what I call straight line thinkers, people that just, their brain just works like that. And unfortunately, many accountants are the ones that sit at the boardroom tables, the finance directors, the CFO's, they're, the ones driving it, which is okay, fine, but what they need is the counterbalance to that, which is what I call the squiggly brained people, the non conformists, the ones that don't fit with that straight line thinking that will challenge them. And I think when you got a good balance, that's when you see good business done from any kind of creative organisation. You know, I mean, I've even seen really good tech companies that, like you said, they're really techie, but because of the way that they go about doing things and they've understood that yin Yan balance requirement between the squiggly brain and the straight brain people, then they've, they've been really, um, exciting businesses and, and also commercially sustainable, you know.

David Brown [:

So, yeah, it's interesting, 100%. And it's. You're absolutely right. The, you know, the concept of the yin and yang, I mean, that's through everything in everybody's life, right? You need both sides of everything, so you need a little bit of balance in all of that. But this is a great, I think you've, you've brought up something which is, you know, I agree with you about the. I think when you say, or when people say creative, or are you creative? Or, you know, that people do they harken back to art class or, you know, trying to make a sculpture or draw a picture? And I think you're absolutely right. I think it's, it's, it's much broader than that. But that's a perfect jumping off point to let's get into AI, because one of the things I know you and I have talked about at length is, in some of our conversations before, is the ability of AI to help people.

David Brown [:

I think get some of the people who think that they're not creative because they can't draw, can now go use an AI tool to try and get some of their ideas out and it's encouraging them to be more creative.

Lena Robinson [:

You and I were talking about this the other day on a completely different conversation, but we talked about that, that idea or not the idea, the area of conceptual creativity, because, as you said, lots of people will come up with an idea, but if they don't have the capability to then turn it into, like you said, they've got a vision in their mind, but they don't know how to execute it from a, a literal, creative perspective, they're going to struggle, but it doesn't mean the idea was a good one. And the, you know, and the concept wasn't hugely creative, so, and I love the fact that, and it is probably one of the reasons why you and I connected on this topic was I love the fact that, like me, you see AI as a tool, a tool that a creative person can use, like a paintbrush. It's no different. Or like a photographer using a camera. You know, when photography first came out, the resistance against it was just as much as what AI is dealing with at the moment. And you know what you, I think, like any tool, it can be used to create something, but to make it truly, significantly, outstandingly artistic, you still need somebody behind it that understands how to craft something using another tool that's not, you know, that's a paintbrush or a whatever, you know, so it's.

David Brown [:

Yeah, that's right. And I know there've been some, a lot of artists are pushing back, understandably, because of, you know, copyright issues and all sorts of things that we can talk about as well. But some are coming out like Annie Leibovitz, for example, is, is probably the biggest name that I can think of. And she came out pretty openly and said, yeah, I use every tool at my disposal to create my vision, and she's been doing that for years. So she was always a big proponent of using Photoshop and all the digital tools and everything to enhance her photos in the beginning, and it was just a natural progression. And I'm old enough to remember using film cameras before there were even digital cameras existed. I love a dark room. Yeah.

David Brown [:

And, and just the massive consternation that happened when digital cameras came out because everybody started saying, oh, it's not, it's not a photograph, it's not. And it, you know, we, we had the same type of discussion back then, but now it's just seen as it's just a different platform that everybody uses. And yes, it has changed photography, I think it's. And that's probably a whole separate podcast that we could go into and talk about digital versus film photography. But what's interesting is I see a lot of people are actually going back to film now and they like it because it forces them to slow down and to actually really think about what they're doing instead of just showing up to a location and taking 10,000 photos and pulling out the two that you just happen to get lucky with. Yeah, you know, you've got 36 or 24, you know, slots that you can only take that many pictures and it's going to cost you money, you know, to do that. So it makes you become much more focused on, on the art of what you're doing and, and that sort of thing, which I think is a, it's probably a positive.

Lena Robinson [:

I agree. It's interesting because, I mean, I do both. I, photography is one of my passions. I do digital on my, just, on my iPhone. I've got a whole different Instagram that I've just started up on there under my pseudonym of raw photography. And I've intentionally chosen not to use philtres or anything like that on there intentionally. But I also still have unprocessed film in my fridge. You know, I love, I have my, my original camera that I had when I was, you know, in my early twenties.

Lena Robinson [:

That's a long time ago now. And I love that. And I love the dark room. I love the, I actually like the process of, from film right through development and all that. I love that sort of sticking it in the, in the lit, in the liquid and watching the image come out. But I also think there's definitely a place for the digital as well. I think they don't have to be one or you don't have to be one or the other, I don't think, you know, and I know there's definitely, you know, one of my, several of my artists are digital photographers, and their, you know, their art is phenomenal, stunning, actually. And, you know, I think they do take, still take their time with what they're doing.

Lena Robinson [:

But I think it's a really good point. You know, you can, every, every man and his dog can create content and can create images and art and what have you. Doesn't mean everybody's gonna be good at it. You know, that the user that sits behind the tool is still the difference between, well, that's a nice photo and that's a piece of fine art. Do you know what I mean? Like, it's a massive difference.

David Brown [:

Yeah, 100%.

Lena Robinson [:

We haven't even talked about Tom, my AI artist, yet, so we'll get onto that later.

David Brown [:

We'll get onto that in just a second. What's interesting, though, just following on from that, what I've noticed is a lot, particularly on YouTube and on LinkedIn as well. There are quite a few people who use AI imagery to go along with their posts, for example, or YouTube cover images and things like that. And what's been interesting to see is the progression of, like, people have developed a style that they like for their content and then, but watching those people actually get it better and better and better. So the stuff they started off with, you know, six months ago was really, really rough, and I don't think it's necessarily too much of an improvement in the tool. I think it's them improving the way they ask for what they want and getting better results. And, you know, the people who do it every day. And I can think of a couple and I'll put some links in the show notes, but there's a guy who runs the music radio creative, Mike Russell.

David Brown [:

Mike Russell's been doing it for ages, since the very beginning. There's another friend of mine, Nadia. Nadia has been doing it for ages. He's built a. In fact, I just had him on the podcast, he built 100 GPTs in 100 days. But he uses AI tools to create imagery to go with his blog posts and stuff that he does all the time. And if you look at it, he's got so much more skilled at asking the tools for what he wants, that his imagery is amazing now, and he definitely has a style that he's worked out how to get out of it. And I think that's really interesting that I think what we're going to see, and again, this is something we can touch on maybe at the end of the conversation, but we are now getting AI artists, and I think we'll see some of those AI artists with a very particular style, and you'll probably be able to look at that in the not too distant future and go, oh, that's a so and so.

David Brown [:

That's an audio image, because we know what they like and what they do.

Lena Robinson [:

I think what that comes down to, again, it comes down to you've either got a visual in your mind or not. And I think the improvement that you see in people like you're talking about there with the LinkedIn posts and stuff is the fact that they will get better at achieving what they've got in their mind. And like any art, you hone your craft. I have talked to Tom about this all the time. He is what he. I mean, don't get me wrong, his work from the outset was extraordinary, but he. He's getting better. I don't want to say better and better because the work's amazing anyway, but in his approach to it, he's getting faster, quicker to where he wants to go, because he's just learned that he's honed that craft.

Lena Robinson [:

And I think it is. I think those two things still ensure what output you get because, you know, this is what everybody's been really afraid of with AI, which makes me not afraid of it. It's still driven by a human who knows what they want to achieve and will only finish doing it when they've achieved it. Like, that's just, that's how art works, you know, that's how creation works. It's that concept to output and the tool is just the AI, you know, I mean, you will always get those people that just got chuck in one question or one piece of information and I go, oh, that's good enough. Or most artists wouldn't go, that's good enough, you know, different.

David Brown [:

And I think, yeah, and, you know, even in some of the most famous artists in the world, you know, when they start doing their, I don't know, their IR infrared scans and all the crazy x ray stuff that they can do now, they can see revisions underneath. So, you know, it's like a painter's painted over the same thing several times, sort of honing it to get it to where they want it. So, you know, it's not like, I think people who maybe haven't done it or haven't practised at it think that an artist just goes, wow, this is amazing. And they just do it the first time. But that's not, it's not how anything works. It's not how you write a business proposal. It's not, you know, you always do revision after revision, so. Right, so introduce, tell us about who Tom is and what Tom does and how that relates sort of to your gallery, because I think, again, you know, you've been, you've been involved in sort of the art world by having your own gallery and that sort of thing.

David Brown [:

So I think that's really interesting about the approach and what Tom's doing.

Lena Robinson [:

So we'll start with the gallery first because obviously that then sort of will lead on to why I'm working with Tom. I intentionally didn't, you know, I don't come from the art world, for want of better word, except I have always been around artists and creatives and a lot of creatives, obviously through the marketing and advertising industry as well. But I wanted to not. How do I explain this? I intentionally didn't go too far down the rabbit hole of looking at what all the other galleries were doing because I just. I don't want to be like every other gallery. I think there are some amazing galleries being run out there and things are starting to change. But it's been very elitist for a really long time and I couldn't give a fuck about that. I want to care about the artists that I work with.

Lena Robinson [:

I think their art is a legacy that they want to leave behind in the world and my job is to support them in that legacy being left behind, which is why, you know, my whole ethos is art is legacy, whatever format that art comes in. So that's kind of how I've started. I've gone online only at the moment and I'm still finding my way. Like, you know, there's still things I've not necessarily got right and, you know, there's things that I'm working on, but, like, I want to. I want to get it right. I want to get it right for my Arith because it's vital for me that my purpose is to support them and what they're doing. It keeps me up every day. And I, you know, I got asked this the other day, would you, what would you do if you won the lottery? That stupid question.

Lena Robinson [:

But, you know, I said, look, man, it would. The first thing I do is like, oh, what's all the things that I can do for the gallery and my artists is it got me all excited. So that sort of legacy piece that I want to leave behind is at the end of my life, I want to have gone, how many artists did I help do what and achieve their dream of leaving behind a legacy in the world? Because it is something that gets, you know, kept in history. You know, art is one of those things that's kept and looked at and relooked at and understood. And as you say, you know, people are now starting to see underneath that there is more history underneath that with, with, you know, people painting something and then painting over it and what have you, or even taking other artists work that wasn't, you know, wasn't liked or whatever, covered over the top and just to use the canvases and also, you see it in collages, you know, people, that's one of the things I think is interesting about the AI and art thing. Like, people go, oh, you're using other people's things. Well, hello. Have you ever seen an artist using, you know, they cut out bits out of newspapers and magazines and whatever, and they'll stick it on, they'll be paint and like, that's not a new concept, it's just being executed in a different way.

Lena Robinson [:

And I do get the copyright thing and I think ethically that is something that needs to be sorted out. Don't know the answers. And I do agree with that bit of it. Not sure. Don't have the answer on that necessarily, but I do think that has got a massive amount of importance. But what that lead me on to is I'm not afraid to do things differently. I'm definitely not afraid. I bumped into, sorry, let me rephrase that.

Lena Robinson [:

I'm not afraid to look at something new, which is why the AI thing has not frightened me in the least. I met Tom about four years ago, three or four years ago. It was during the pandemic, I think, and he was a guest on a podcast conference. So, Tom, some of you may know, particularly the british people and some of the Americans as well. In the eighties, he was in quite a famous band called Scritty Polity, and he's one of the founding members and drummers of that. So. But he went to art college, art university, did his degree in fine arts, and is an artist in his own right. Not from a music perspective, but also from a visual art perspective as well.

Lena Robinson [:

Like, I think he used to do a lot of their covers on their albums and all that kind of thing. So, you know, this man has dined with Andy, you know, been aware of people like Andy Warhol and partied with him, and, you know, he's known a lot of amazing people, but that is not the thing that drew me to him, although I think it's an amazing thing. And he's such a. Such a cool guy. Really interesting. What I really enjoyed was a, he uses his drumming to connect with people. But what I liked about it is that I started. I'd connected with him all that time ago and started just watched on Facebook and different posts.

Lena Robinson [:

Quite a prolific poster, but amazing posts. And I saw that he was starting to put up videos and ceramics, actually, that he was coming up with the ideas on and go, oh, what do you guys think of this? This is quite interesting, blah, blah. So I contacted him and said, you and I need to have a little bit of a chat. We've never spoken about this, but I've launched this art gallery, and I really like the conceptual side of what you're doing. And the AI thing is quite interesting. Jumped on a call, started having a chat, and he was quite surprised that I was, as a fine art gallery person, that I was interested, that I even thought of it as art. Well, I said, well, when I said to him, it's no different than using a paintbrush, he's like, yeah, it's my person. So from then on, we agreed that I was going to represent him and work with him.

Lena Robinson [:

And, you know, we talk a lot. He comes up with a gazillion ideas. It's amazing. He's prolific in his creativity and in most of his work, he's still always putting the drums and everything a lot of the time into the work, particularly all the work that I've got on the site. But he also will show me other things that he's doing. And he's now starting to create music and through AI, and he's creating these amazing films through AI. But here's the thing, when you go back to, again, he is an artist, no question, in multiple areas. And I think he is definitely a polymath because his ability is just.

Lena Robinson [:

He can do so many different things. It's amazing. But I think it shocked him that I was unafraid. I thought, I was so excited, couldn't wait to get going and represent this amazing. I mean, this person, he's gonna probably shoot me for this. I think Tom is going to hit. He did tell me, I think it's gonna be like 69 or 70 this year. So what is exciting for me is that a.

Lena Robinson [:

It's not just a young person's game. I like the fact that a person that has lived in a life, an extraordinary life, can use that experience to utilise this tool to achieve a vision, a conceptual vision he has in his head. And I know talking to him on a, on a regular basis, I was only talking to him about this week, has honing. He's constantly honing, constantly crafting. You know, I do see what he's doing. The way he describes it is categorically crafting and honing his craft with regards to AI art. For anybody to say he's not an artist, you step up, talk to me about that, because he is categorically an artist. And anybody that's going to question that, I'm happy to have that argument.

Lena Robinson [:

I find it exciting that somebody that is of a decent age is not afraid to be curious and take on new, exciting things. I think fucking amazing, actually. Really amazing.

David Brown [:

So he's. Yeah, so he's, he's leading the way how? I mean, you obviously know tonnes of other artists as well. So what is the general feeling in the, in the, in the population of people that you know about it? Do you find, is there a, are most people now starting to use it like him, or is there a lot of hesitancy or what are you sort of seeing in the art community?

Lena Robinson [:

I think there's still hesitancy. I think there's still a purist kind of view in it, mostly. In fact, I've had a conversation about this with one of my other artists who also, not only is he an artist, drawing artist, but he also is a software developer. So he understands the back end of the algorithms and all the rest of it, and yeah, there's definitely questions. Do we call them artists or do we call them creatives, or do we call them AI? Concept, conceptual? I don't know. There is still a lot of discussion going on. I think as time goes on, it's not a lack of. I don't think it's a lack of acceptance around it, necessarily, with the people I'm talking about.

Lena Robinson [:

I think what they still struggle with is, is it art? That's the bit. I think they're truly like, is it really art? Or is it just somebody shoving shit together? And I'm kind of like, well, you know, oh, it's just the algorithm. No, it's the difference between what we went back to. It's like you can get a person that takes a camera because it takes a photo or with their iPhone or whatever, or the Android. Sorry. Millions of phones, you know, and they. Somebody can go and take a photo. Doesn't make it.

Lena Robinson [:

Make it gonna be a good photo. This will be a shit photo. You get somebody that knows what they're doing and has a concept in their head and knows what they're looking for, knows how to, you know, like one of. One of my photographers, in fact, both of them. Agenda and Mark, although I know agenda better, you know, I've been on photo shoots with him, and he is an artist down to the nth degree. Amazing. And the work, I haven't been on shoot with Mark Alvarez, but the work that he produces is, again, a lot of it's long timing shots so that he gets exact. He spends extraordinary amount of time out in the wilderness and out and about in the wilds and what have you, beaches and what have you, to get exactly what he's got in his head.

Lena Robinson [:

That is artistry. And I don't think. I haven't actually talked to either of them about this, actually. I don't know their view on what they think of what Tom is creating, but I think they're kind of excited by it. I think. I don't know, but I don't think they're definitely not afraid of it for sure, because I think they understand that art is driven by an artistic mind, no matter how it's put out. Don't know if I've even asked. Answered your question.

David Brown [:

No, it's fine. You have. And. But what's interesting that you brought up in there is this goes back to, you know, it's the same age old question as what is art? Right at the end of the day? Because you can go into some of the most famous galleries in the world. And you might be walking through, particularly with more modern art, and you walk through and there'll be a. There'll be a painting on the wall that's a solid blue background with a red line through it, and you're like, is that art? Like, I could have done that with a ruler and some paint, but I didn't. Right. And so it's all in the eye of the person looking at it.

David Brown [:

And it's the. It's the same conversation that I have about empathy with AI. And there's this big discussion about, can AI be empathetic? And my view is that empathy is in the eyes of the person experiencing it. So do you feel like the person talking to you is being empathetic? And it doesn't matter whether that person actually is empathetic, if they're saying the things that make you feel like you're experiencing empathy, then you are. It is empathetic.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah.

David Brown [:

And it's the same sort of argument. Right. So I totally agree with you. I think, you know, I. I think AI is art can be art, but it's all about the people who view it and experience it and say, that's amazing. That feels like art to me.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah. It's interesting, because what came up when you just said that, you said AI is art. I don't agree with that. I think AI is the tool that can create art, in my. That's just my opinion, though, because I think it's the tool. You know, it'd be like saying a paintbrush is art. Well, maybe it is. I don't know.

Lena Robinson [:

Depends what you do.

David Brown [:

Yeah, sorry.

Lena Robinson [:

You know what I mean?

David Brown [:

Yeah, I'm. Yeah.

Lena Robinson [:

But I think we're both kind of saying the same thing, but from a slightly different angle. I think what I think you're right about, because I prefer to. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love street art. I'm a massive fan of street art, always have been. But I. But I tend. And I do like the Tate modern, but I tend to be more happy in the Tate Britain. Maybe that's my dad's influence.

Lena Robinson [:

Although dad's favourite painters are Salvador Dali and people like Dadaism and stuff like that, which is definitely modern art. But, you know, I think I remember when I first went to the Tate Britain, when I first got here 20 something years ago, and I remember going in and there was a. Literally a line of brick bricks that went on, and I think that maybe curved at one point, and it was also just bricks laid out. Bearing in mind that my father's a landscaper. And so I went in and went, what the fuck is this shit? This is not art.

David Brown [:

Exactly. Yeah.

Lena Robinson [:

Mainly because a, I've seen my dad do that a hundred times now. He is a craftsman. I do think it's a craft, but it's not a sub question if it's up. And then I found out that somebody had paid like three or four, three or 4000 pounds for that installation to be bought from somebody else and relayed. And I was like, you're joking. It's bricks. But here's the interesting thing, is that when I first saw Tracy Emmons stuff, because I think it was still, her bed stuff is still up in the tape. Modern.

Lena Robinson [:

When I first came over and initially I thought, oh, it's just, what? What's this shit? It's just crap everywhere. However, once I understood the story behind it, how she'd done it and where the concept had come from, I kind of looked at it in a different way and went, oh, now I understand it. And it reiterated again. I think I saw a documentary on it on Netflix or something like that a few years ago. And it re reminded me of how she'd got to that point. Because up until then I was like, what's every going on about? It's just a crappy room. But I think what's interesting is it comes back once more to the strength of con, the conceptual part of the creativity, not just the execution, because you can, and I never remember the guy's name. The guy that did, I think, on the tape model, needs a, there's a toilet.

Lena Robinson [:

Is it deschamp? Anyway. And it's just got a signature on it. There's a piece about it. It's a toilet as a urinal toilet thing.

David Brown [:

Right.

Lena Robinson [:

But I now walk around the, but it can be as everywhere. It's design. It's, you know, it is designed for sure. But I think if you open your mind up, art is everywhere. In everything. It's in nature.

David Brown [:

Yeah, that's right.

Lena Robinson [:

You know, it's in lots of different things.

David Brown [:

Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I totally agree. And so where do you think I'm just gonna sort of move on because I'm looking at time so. Well, we're 40 minutes, so we've got plenty of time, but still. So where do you see it going? Sort of like, you know, we've got, so now the current state of affairs is we have some, some AI tools that can do some really creative shit. You know, it can create still images, it can create videos, it can translate languages. It can, you know, it can now. It can actually modify video in a live stream so you can actually change live broadcast video as it's being, being broadcast.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah.

David Brown [:

And you can change the characters, the people completely. You can do live translation so that it actually reshapes. Like, you can do all of that. Where do you, where do you think this is gonna go? Like, do you have any idea of where do you think we're gonna be sort of five years from now? Thinking about it from the creative? Yeah.

Lena Robinson [:

I mean, on one hand, in an exciting way, I don't know, but bear with me on that in an exciting way. I don't know, because I'm kind of excited to see where exactly go. However, we do have some understanding of patterns that have come before. So we've seen what's happened in history when photography came in, when film came in, when, you know, the Internet came along, which has changed everybody on everything. And as part of that, websites were being thrown up. We saw what happened with the bubble of that and the fall of that. The word that I do not like to use, but everybody's nfts, fucking nfts anyway. I mean, I only get contacted on a regular basis by people trying to money launder.

Lena Robinson [:

They'll contact me and go, I want to buy all of your art and your whole thing, if you will take a hundred thousand pounds for it all. And I'm. It's so dodgy, you can tell it's dodgy, like instantly the way, you know, the picture that they've got on their thing and their name is John Smith and you're going, yeah. You're not John Smith, you're from a completely other part of the world. Yeah, no, and you just want to run. So there is. But there's a. It happened things like there were cowboys and there was the bubble during the.com boom, but it smoothed itself out.

Lena Robinson [:

Same happened with social media, blew up, then it's coming down and new things come along. But there's a, there's a general way, seems to be a pattern of all these things. I think AI will go the same way. I think what happened in all of those things, particularly with Internet.com boom, social media, it all got really exciting, it all blew up. But then ethics and good ways of doing business and being, living in a civilised society to a certain degree, I don't want it to be so civilised that we're boring, but rules start to get put into place. Now, I'm not a big fan of a rule, you know, fuck the status quo and all that. But I'm okay with an approach which is being honourable and being decent and, you know, I'm not necessarily in agreement with the whole ripping off of other people's copyrights and all that. I'm not sure what we do about that because at the moment, that is technically what's happening.

David Brown [:

I think, is the problem with that scale.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah. It'll sort itself out, but it will get sorted out. It always does. It did with the.com, it did with social media. You know, there are now ethical rules in place globally to protect copyright and all the rest of it. The same will happen with AI, I think, which I think is not, that's not about setting rules for rules sake. It's about protection of copyright and creativity and ip, which I think is a fair thing to put in place. I'm not sure how it's done because that's not my world of expertise.

Lena Robinson [:

But, you know, it will happen. I think the patterns will happen. It may take probably another five years, I reckon. Probably. Maybe quicker, don't I? They seem to have, like, us seeing the patterns. Those people doing all the laws and things will see the patterns as well. Probably put it in quicker, you know.

David Brown [:

Yeah. I just, I wonder, I wonder if the issue, I wonder if the issue around the copyright stuff is like, for example, like every, everybody who learns to paint or whatever, you study the masters of painting, or if you're a photographer, you study the masters of photography, right? You go, you, you look at the Bill Eggleston, you go. And you, you know, you look at the rankings, you look at the Annie Leibovitz's. You go, you study all of that stuff.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah.

David Brown [:

And then, you know, you start creating black and white portraits of people in a studio or you do really creative portraiture. Well, that could be a rankine or that could be a liebowitz. Right. So it, so I don't, and you generally don't get in trouble. Or if you do something in the style of Picasso, like nobody's gonna go, well, that's a copyrighted Picasso because you've done it in that style. And I wonder if that, if the pushback of AI is just because of the scale aspect, because you can do it because of the Internet and because of social media and because of all that stuff. Now when you create something, you can push it out to billions of people, whereas before, if you created it and you had it and you maybe saw it, like maybe thousands of people would see it. And I don't know, this is what I'm trying to understand is like, what's the difference? Because at its core, AI is doing exactly what a human does.

David Brown [:

We learn by copying everybody else. And then we spit out something, whether it's written or painted or drawn or photographed, based on all of the influences that we've had from everything that we've learned. And that's all AI is doing. So I don't understand what the difference is between AI simple.

Lena Robinson [:

I think you've nailed it on the head without realising it. The difference is that a human is making the decision when it comes to style, copying, for want of a better word, or, you know, being influenced by other styles. What people, I think, struggle with when it comes to AI is it's an inanimate, in their view, an inanimate thing that has no conscience is making that choice. I think it's that simple. I think it's misunderstanding, lack of education, fear. And some of the fear is right, because, you know, the copyright stuff hasn't been sorted out yet. And I get why artists will be fearful of it. Totally get it.

Lena Robinson [:

I do think that it is very simple that a human makes the decision and a non human does. It makes the other decision. I think it's that simple. When we get it down to the grass, you know, the nuts and bolts of it all. I think that's what it is. Just a theory, though. I don't know that for sure. Yeah, that's just a gut on that.

David Brown [:

It could be. I read an article yesterday and I've made a bunch of notes. You may have seen me looking down. I've made a bunch of notes about stuff I'm going to put in the show notes. So I'll put it. I'll put a link into the Tracy Emmons bed story. So if people want to read up on that, they can. And the Annie Leibovitz article that I've shared with you in the past and some links to Tom and whatever, but I recently saw an article that said that AI, in ethical questions, the responses from AI are ranked higher than human responses in a blind study.

Lena Robinson [:

It doesn't surprise me if you. No, no, that doesn't surprise me at all, because humans are influenced by emotion, rightly or wrongly. Now, in many instances, that's a good thing. You know, we're driven by passions, we're driven by excitement, sadness. You know, how many people have. I mean, country music wouldn't exist without a sadness, would it? You know, broken hearts and all that.

David Brown [:

Or blues.

Lena Robinson [:

You know, as an industry, it would, like, have struggled if it wasn't for, you know, broken hearts and, you know, difficult lives and all that kind of stuff, the blues the same, you know. But I think when it comes down to ethics, ethics shouldn't be emotional, it's the opposite. Ethics is about in one hand, I suppose it's a bit emotional in the fact that it's about doing the right thing, but everybody has a different viewpoint on what the right thing is. So that's why it makes ethics a much, once the rules are set for ethics and what the guidelines are for different things, it just goes, oh, okay, I understand that. I can do it. That's fine. That makes sense. I think when you are, if you were to line 20 people up on a particular subject and say ethically, what do you think is the right thing to do? You'll come up with 20 different answers on a difficult topic.

Lena Robinson [:

Right. It's less difficult for a machine to come up with the ethical rule. If we've told them what the ethical rules are, which is what we're doing, you know, AI doesn't do anything without what it's learnt from us. We've taught it everything, rightly or wrongly. So if it misbehaves, it's a, it's our fucking fault. No, not the machines. Um, you know, it's not the terminator. Get a grip.

Lena Robinson [:

But, yeah, but again, it's still what it doesn't, nothing, none of it exists without what we've given it, provided to it, told it what to do, instructed it, you know, if, and that's what makes it, I guess, probably easier for an AI situation. Question that's asked of it is, which answers it's going to give, it's going to come up more ethically than it will from a human would be my view on that.

David Brown [:

Yeah, I just, I thought it was really interesting a, that someone had done the research, which I think it was a good, that's, that's an excellent research project to work on. And I was kind of surprised by the results. But like you said, I think probably what it ends up doing is it ends up coming up with an answer that's very middle of the road that would appeal to more people on both sides than of any argument. Right. Like it could be a, I don't know, it could be, I don't know all the factors that would go into it, but somebody who might think it's right versus somebody who might think it's wrong. I suspect that what you end up getting is sort of the mean of an answer in the middle where it kind of. And then both. Both sides will go.

David Brown [:

Yeah, that's okay. Yeah, I can get along with that. Whereas if it comes from somebody, then maybe they have, again, more emotion in it. And, yeah, it's interesting that you talked about the emotional aspect, because one of my previous guests, and I can't remember who it was, so I apologise ahead of time. But they talked about the fact that one of the advantages to AI is that it doesn't have any ulterior motive. So when it gives you information or it answers a question or something, you're generally not getting it with any kind of. It's just giving you an answer and it doesn't have any emotion tied into it and it doesn't have any type of a goal. We may.

David Brown [:

We may see that change, because people are now starting to tinker with the models because they say, well, we. We don't want it to give you the answer that it gives you. We want. We want it to give you a more balanced answer, or we want it to be more representative of this or that. And so they're tinkering now with the bias. So what they're injecting is they're injecting an ulterior motive into the answer, which is their personal ulterior motive. Well, I think that's going to be dangerous.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah. The interesting thing is, and it. Because they're funny, my brain went to bias before you even said the word. But I think what's interesting about that is the AI isn't biassed as such. It's only going on what we've given it, correct. It only know, like, it's knowledge is only what we've provided. Now we're biassed and we've put in the bias. Like you and I were talking about the other day, the.

Lena Robinson [:

The dove ad film that's just been produced and its approach to we need to do it more ethically, because effectively, for those that don't know, what they've produced is if you put in beautiful woman, it mainly came up with blonde hair, blue eyed, of a certain size, shape, whatever. And that's just as we all know. One of the things that dove beauty has been really good at is that there is beauty in a million different shapes, sizes, heights, weights, colours, multi colours, whatever. You know, disabilities and, you know, diversity. Inclusion is a massive thing for them and something that they do truly believe in as well. Like, have they got all the other business practises sorted out? I don't think so, but as far as that's concerned, they've always been really clear that beauty isn't just a one. Look, unfortunately, with AI, diversity, equity, inclusion, not being dealt with properly. And there is a bias, multiple biases, and they are on different topics because unfortunately, humans are flawed and they've put in their own biases unknowingly, probably by what, how things have been created that can get sorted out.

Lena Robinson [:

Because the more people, the plus side of it being such a massive scale, is that to your point, the more information that goes in, the more diversity you will get, the more different view stuff that will get put in and the hopefully the biases will be watered down. Hopefully. Because at the moment, it's definitely not right for sure. But again, and you're right, it's.

David Brown [:

It's like if you say, you know, generate a picture of a CEO and it does.

Lena Robinson [:

A white man from America. Probably.

David Brown [:

Exactly. Yeah, but I think. But I think again, like you're saying though, the data for the last probably 200 years, CEO's were 99% male and probably white, middle class.

Lena Robinson [:

Yep.

David Brown [:

And so that's, that's the truth, is that is the image, because that is the bulk of it. It's maybe only in the past 50 years that women have really started to become more able to own their own businesses and run their own businesses and all that. So out of a data set that's massive, you might have one or 2% or women represented in that. So if anybody asks the question, you're going to get a picture of whatever the majority is. And look, I've worked in data and data analytics for years, and that's just how it works. If we want to change the way the data represents it, I'm not sure that having it make up a balanced thing, because that's a fiction that doesn't exist. I'm not sure if that's the right way. The right way is to get more women running businesses, so that as we're putting the more modern data in, it's going to weight towards the more modern information as opposed to the historic information.

David Brown [:

And then it starts to say, well, actually now we've got 30% women or we've got 40% women. So you're going to start to naturally see more representations coming from the data. And it's exactly what you were saying. If we don't like what we're seeing out of the back end, we need to change what's going in the front end. And so we need to fix the societal issue which will then generate the data, which will give us the results that we want to see. But it's, at the minute, it's a very stark mirror to the biases and how the world actually is. And for me personally, I think that's more valuable than having it putting forward an image of a future or a fictional view of how things are, because that's not how things are. And I think maybe it's more valuable by showing us.

Lena Robinson [:

Yeah, I think that's an interesting one.

David Brown [:

Now we're getting into it.

Lena Robinson [:

Well, I think what's interesting about the data, cause like you, I mean, I'm not a data analyst at all, but I love data. Like, I love stats, I love analytics on all of my socials and all the rest I get excited about. But here's the thing about it, which is a negative. It's always, it's like when you. It's like when you try to do a cash flow projection for your business, but all you're doing is basing it on what you've already done. The problem with a set of accounts is it's what you did do, not what you're going to do. And I think the challenge with data is exactly the same. It's what's currently happening, it's not what the future holds.

Lena Robinson [:

And I think, not being a technologist, I'm not sure. I personally don't know how that, how you do that. Which is why I tend to. I tend to run my businesses. And I made a choice on this, particularly with the art gallery, that I would run it on instinct, not on looking around at what everybody else is doing and looking at that data, you know, it's good to understand it, but I know where I want it to go and I know where I'm heading. And I need to trust my instincts and guts on that with obviously, knowledge and looking to a certain degree around me, but never making my decisions based on, on the data. Like, to be fair, if I was to look at all the data just on something simple, like when to post my posts on any social media, the data tells me all the wrong shit. Doesn't matter how much data I'm reading, it keeps telling.

Lena Robinson [:

I put things in and it doesn't get any views. I put it in at a time where I instinctively go, but I know this is the time when everybody's looking for my audience specifically. If I do that, then I get more engagement. I get people commenting talking to me because I like having conversations on social. I think it's better engagement. And I think it is really interesting because all the data tells me the opposite. So I think one of the things I get asked all the time when it comes to my artists is how do I choose my artists? And my answer is instinct. It is simple as that.

Lena Robinson [:

And they go, but that can't be right. And I go, depends what you. Where instinct comes from. I suppose, you know, Malcolm Gladwell or what you consider right book on, you know, what, what instinct actually possibly is. And it may be just that capability of being able to process more information around us quicker, faster. But I can tell, tell you now that it's difficult when I've got, sometimes had to turn artists away and go when they've approached me and said, oh, I'd really like to work with you. And I've looked at work and I've just gone, yeah, no. And they go, can you tell me why? And I go, I can't.

Lena Robinson [:

I don't know. It's not, it's not. And I find it really difficult to tell them because I know they deserve an answer that is more helpful for them. But, and don't get me wrong, I don't pick my artist purely because it's the kind of art I would put on my wall either, because it's not that. And also the art that I've got is very different. Like, all of my artists are quite different from each other, even in, even if they're doing a similar kind of thing. You know, like my two photographers, for example, although they're both doing digital photography, their work is completely different from each other. And I just know the moment I see it, I think what it is, because don't even, it's not even every piece that somebody produces that I'm okay with either, but I know that it's that.

Lena Robinson [:

And this is where AI, in my opinion, will never have that thing. It punches me in the gut, every single. And I just know, and I can't necessarily put that into a set of criteria, you know? And I think it's the one thing I think we always need to have confidence in. Like, if we're worried about AI taking over everything, there will always be humans that just, if they trust their instincts because they're looking forward, not taking data from the past, I think that differentiates where humanity comes into it. You know, creativity does not, in a good way. Creativity defies all the rules. The amount of times I've seen not just art, but different things that, like, just shouldn't have worked. Just did.

Lena Robinson [:

I saw it many times in the ad industry when campaigns should have worked, failed fucking miserably. All the data said it should work. They've done all the things, blah, blah, blah, ticked all the boxes, didn't work. But there's been plenty of times where I've had to have fights with bosses who are more straight brained than squiggly brained. And I've. They've just said, prove to me why we should be doing that. I'd say, we need to do this. And they go, why? And I couldn't tell them.

Lena Robinson [:

And I just had to say, you need to trust me that I know what I'm doing. This will work. My gut, you know, just try and say, tell a CEO or CMO that I'm doing this because my gut's telling me, oh, fuck, that's just banging your head against a brick wallty million times. But if they trusted me, they just let me get on with it. And every single time, within reason, it was the right thing to do. Sometimes it didn't start 100% straight away and we'd have to adjust, whatever you. But that's marketing anyway. But I think humans bring, to your point, they do bring true empathy, because no matter how much you put empathy into a machine, it will go, oh, that's what empathy looks like.

Lena Robinson [:

That's what empathy sounds like. Kind of like a psychopath. They can come across empathetic, they are not empathetic. That's the difference. And I think, you know, they can fake it. AI can fake having empathy, but it won't, because it's a machine. It's never going to have empathy and it's never going to have intuition and instinct. Intuition may be to a little bit, but instinct, weird against the grain, doesn't kind of make sense because at the end of the day, it's numbers and figures and zeros and ones, you know, it's just my view on that, though.

David Brown [:

Sorry. Going into a range on that one. Perfect. I think that's a great place to end and wind up the conversation for today. There's plenty more to talk about. There's a load of stuff we didn't touch on, but I don't want to go too much. We're just over an hour now already.

Lena Robinson [:

Maybe there's a two or three or four coming up, who knows?

David Brown [:

100%. Hopefully next time we'll do it in person. So that's one of the things I want to look for. So we're just getting close to the one year. So this is episode 51 and I do a weekly show, so the next episode will be my one year episode and I'll have just a small update for people on that but, yeah. So in the second year, I'm going to try and do more live, sit down and be in a studio type thing. So hopefully we'll be able to do that next time.

Lena Robinson [:

That would be really cool.

David Brown [:

I'll have links, like I said, to all of this stuff. But where can people find your gallery and how can they find you on social media?

Lena Robinson [:

So the gallery is online and it's at FTS Q gallery co dot uk. So if for f, t for what word? The s for status and q for co. So ftsqgallery dot co dot UK is where we can find it on the website, on social media. Uh, it is on Instagram. Uh, as I'm gonna have to remember these. I don't know, you might have to put it in the writing. We're on Instagram, we're on LinkedIn, we're on Twitter. Definitely not on TikTok, though.

Lena Robinson [:

I can't go near that yet.

David Brown [:

I don't do TikTok either.

Lena Robinson [:

I'm gonna put them down here or up there or somewhere. Anyway, I always forget what.

David Brown [:

I'll put all the links in the show notes, so there'll be a whole set of links to all the stuff so everybody can just click on it.

Lena Robinson [:

That would be cool.

David Brown [:

Brilliant. Awesome. Thank you very much for your time today.

Lena Robinson [:

Thanks for having me.

David Brown [:

Yeah, we will see you on, well, in a couple of weeks at the birthday party.

Lena Robinson [:

You will indeed. See you later, everybody. Bye.

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