Tag Archives: Art

Why A.I. generated art won’t replace human artistry

The art world was forever changed when programs like Dalle-2 and Midjourney came to the public’s attention. These programs use A.I. generation to create images based on text prompts that you input. This allows anyone to make almost anything they can think of with only a sentence or two. While this is incredible in its own right, it has also caused some concern in the art world. That is, whether or not A.I. image generation will advance to the point where it could replace human artwork.

Embed from Getty Images

Some of you might not know what A.I. image generation is or how it works, so allow me to explain it. A.I. Image generators are programs that use algorithms based on pre-existing images to create whole new images from scratch. This could assist with sketching out artistic works, mass production of marketing applications, and helping artists develop new ideas for artwork.

However, despite the impressive technology displayed, there are a few aspects of A.I. image generation that make it unlikely that A.I. artwork will replace human artwork anytime soon.

Embed from Getty Images

One fact is how the images are created. An A.I. uses existing images to develop the generated images’ look, layout, and style. So the end results are only based on the already existing images, giving the user less control of the end results of the generation. Art created by humans has the benefit of designing. Artists can draw the picture how they want, where everything is placed, and use their own personal style.

Another reason A.I. art will most likely not overtake human art is that A.I. generators use existing images, and the images used could potentially contain copyrighted material. This causes images and artwork created by A.I. programs to be unsettled regarding copyright laws. Making it difficult for these types of images to find mainstream success.

Embed from Getty Images

Such as the case of what is happening with Getty Images. Getty images chose to put a ban on all A.I.-generated art and pictures. The reason for this ban stems from the uncertain copyright laws and complications that seem to plague A.I.-generated art.

A final reason A.I.-generated art won’t replace human art is that artists aren’t receptive to A.I. generation as an art form. An example was when a person used A.I. generation to create an image that won an art contest. Art community members were quick to criticize this, saying the man didn’t technically make an art piece.

Embed from Getty Images

So what is the future of A.I.-generated art? If it won’t replace human art now, will it later? Well, it is safe to say that the issues that revolve around A.I. generated art are slowly being fixed up. As time passes, copyright issues will be cleared up, and more control will be accessible over how the image is laid out. In the future, A.I. generation programs might serve as tools to assist more artists in the creative process. But when it comes to the actual creation of art, humans succeed in some areas that machines simply can’t.

Aidan Bajadek is a Junior member of the MultiMedia Journalism class.

The Art Shack

Episode 1:

In the first episode of Art Shack, we give an overview of different forms of expression in art. Art is fundamentally that, an expression, and it can be shown in many ways. We introduce this topic and give some examples of famous pieces of art from history.

Episode 2: Chuck Close

Chuck Close was an extraordinarily accomplished and highly talented artist. He created so many notable works in his time and has inspired so many. Despite some controversy both at the beginning and end of his career, he is undeniably an art legend. Upon his recent death, I found covering him on the show appropriate.

Episode 3: Art in Secondary Education

As a high schooler who finds art important, this was a necessary topic to cover. Art is something, that in recent times, has been overlooked at this level of education. But it is one of the most enriching subjects for students of all ages and throughout his episode I express that and give examples.

The Art Shack was designed, created, and produced by John Lauer.

John is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

From ceramics to K-pop, how Korea’s art has evolved

Korea has a long history of art and poetry. There are numerous surrounding nations and cultures for the Korean people over the ages to draw from. Between their neighboring countries, religion, naturalism, and personal expression in one of the most repressive nations in history, there is a lot to express and also many cultural mediums to express that through.

For the understanding of Korean art, there is a level of knowledge of Korean culture that many in the west do not have. This is not surprising as one of the defining characteristics of Korean culture is reclusiveness and suppression. This sounds brutal, and perhaps sometimes it is. The people of the Korean peninsula have been reclusive to their nation and repressed individually.

To a modern American, this may sound awful. This created as many obvious issues as one could imagine. But it also made the most harmonious and peaceful society ever. As well as this, for most of modern Korean history, there was a highly encouraging outlet for these pent-up emotions, questions, or perspectives. Art and poetry. The number of built-up emotions, thoughts on society, and questions about the world, that were just inside of every Korean, allowed for a great deal of beautiful and culturally rich art and poetry.

For as long as Korea has had art and Buddhism, they have mixed. There is an excellent heft of Korean Buddhist art. Though the defining philosophy of Korea for some time has been Confucianism, because of how pervasive in all aspects of society it is, it often works hand in hand with Buddhism, Christianity, folk religion, or any religion/philosophy. We see this now with western capitalism being very firmly rooted in South Korea and other western ideas. However, Confucist and traditional Cofucist Korean practices are still in place.

Pensive bodhisattva, Gilt bronze, Korea
Pensive bodhisattva, a Korean Buddhist statue from the Three Kingdoms period (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Korean art follows a few main phases. But these are based on the influence on the peninsula. These influences can be broken down into a few main eras. First, the Three Kingdoms period from 57B.C.-668A.D. The Three Kingdoms period was when the Korean Peninsula was separated into three main kingdoms Goguryeo in the north, Baekje in the southwest, and Silla in the southeast. There was also a tiny kingdom Kaya in the south, and part of the north was controlled by Chinese dynasties. This was the time when Buddhism was first introduced to Korea. This affected the artworks of the time to have more Chinese style incorporated in their works. However, Korean culture remained united through their art and culture, separate from Chinese influences.

Just from the length of this period in history, you can see many changes over time. When it comes to Chinese influences, you will see that the Buddhist aspect of East Asian culture is more prominent at specific points. The level of harmony and peace in Korean society and culture also contributes to how long these phases of Korean history last, not only in the Three Kingdoms Period but with their next major steps in the Korean timeline.

After the Three Kingdoms, Korea did go through a lot of turmoil due to the constantly changing hands of the political systems of the peninsula. There are numerous rules of Korea separated up into different kingdoms until in 918A.D. The law falls into the hands of the Kingdom of Goryeo.

Goryeo continues to rule the entirety of what we know to this day as Korea until 1392A.D. We saw the introduction of Buddhism from India via China in the Three Kingdoms. We see the Golden Age of Korean Buddhism with the Goryeo kingdom. The most notable example of this is the Tripitaka Koreana. This is one of the most famous pieces of art ever made. This is a collection of 80,000 pages of Korean Buddhist canon printed using woodblocks. The woodblocks are a national treasure of Korea and are in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Embed from Getty Images

Also, at this time, ceramics, porcelain structures, and other craftwork was flourishing. Especially the Jinsa strategy using copper oxide. This was so successful it was later exported to the Yuan dynasty in China.

Immediately following Goryeo, the longest-reigning Kingdom to have control of Korea came to power. This was the well-known Joseon dynasty. The Joseon dynasty ruled until the Japanese stomped them out. They led from 1392A.D. to 1897A.D., over 500 years, and the Kingdom underwent changing societal influences multiple times. However, through these events, like becoming a tributary state of the Qing dynasty in China, there were many notable and independent aspects of Joseon when it comes to culture and art.

Embed from Getty Images

Confucianism became the principal ideology of Korea throughout this period. This meant that people were becoming even more adapted to the reclusive aspects of Korean culture. Related to these cultural changes, the art scene also had a lot of developments both concerning Confucianism and changes independent of ideology. Korean art throughout this time separated from the Chinese despite sharing Confucian values. Koreans did this by increasing realism in their art, which became a distinct feature of Korean art but not Chinese. Ceramics also flourished throughout this period, predominantly white and blue ceramics using cobalt pigment.

Jar decorated with flowers and insects, Porcelain with cobalt-blue design, Korea
Jar decorated with flowers and insects from the 18th century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The fall of Joseon came from increasing conflict with the outside world. That eventually culminated in a short-lived “Korean Empire” that was soon annexed to Japan after its founding. This rule under Japan lasted until 1945. This period was tragic for Korea and its people. Koreans were treated without respect and were highly suppressed by the Japanese. Unfortunately, there is not much to show from this period.

After this Japanese rule fell, Korea, unfortunately, suffered once more. Korea fell into a civil war that never truly ended. There was a ceasefire in 1953, which created a mostly peaceful Korean peninsula. While the tension is not gone, there have been no regime shifts since the ceasefire, and Korea is split into two parts. A democratic republic, modeled after and supported by the United States in the south. This is the Republic of Korea or South Korea as most know it. In the northern half, the people have been living under an authoritarian communist dictatorship backed by China and for some time the Soviet Union, this is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea.

North Korea has continued down a road of isolation to become the most isolated country in the world. They also have very poor human development and human rights. Due to these, there is next to no art produced by the free will of artists. There is almost no art that is not a tool of the dictatorship. In the south, there has been an entirely different story. South Korea has become increasingly intertwined with western and, specifically, American culture. There are some negatives and positives to this. However, for the most part, Koreans have been able to hold onto their traditional culture while also adapting aspects of the far more liberal western and American culture that amplifies and idealizes self-expression. This has led to a much more diverse pool of art coming from Korea. Everything from realism, western styles like impressionism, and much more.

Within this advancement and change in Korean art, there are other aspects besides just the painted art that have been majorly influential. There is a large amount of South Korean artistic media growing in popularity throughout Korea and the world, particularly Japan, The United States, and China. This is known as the Korean Wave. The Korean Wave takes on many forms of visual and musical art and media.

Embed from Getty Images

The most popular of these in the world today is Korean pop music or K-pop. K-pop has become vastly popular worldwide mostly with groups of young performers such as GFRIEND, Stray Kids, and BTS. These groups mix catchy music with impressive choreography that has taken the world by storm. The pop music industry in Korea has faced scrutiny recently due to the treatment of its performers. While many performers in the industry are seemingly paid less than they deserve for their work due to the contracts they have with the label companies that own their work, there are few cases where companies have done anything illegal to take advantage of performers in Korea. It is primarily a moral concern that is hard to judge from the outside.

Art and culture are directly correlated. As the culture in Korea continues to change, so will the art and media. We have seen Korea go through so many different stages, politically and culturally. And we have seen these stages have their effect through art. Korea has one of the most beautiful and rich artistic histories that spans everything from early ceramics to the K-pop of the modern day.

John Lauer is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Johannes Vermeer: Catholic Art and the Dutch Golden Age

In the Netherlands, the 17th Century was one of the all-time highs. Philosophy, art, science – reformations in all levels of society were making a better Netherlands. The economy was flourishing; however, one of the significant changes to Dutch society was the Protestant reformation. The Protestant Reformation, which, by the time of famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, had converted most of his native Netherlands. This also brought the Calvinist sect to the forefront of the country, becoming the state religion of the Dutch Republic. It is known as the Dutch Golden Age. 

Vermeer himself strode against the general direction of Dutch society at the time. Vermeer was suspected to be a Catholic convert. This was a dangerous move; after all, public Catholic worship was illegal. He was baptized as a Protestant, but something must have compelled a middle-class man with so much mobility to willingly put a handicap on himself. This motivation could have just been his wife, but it must have been more through his apparent whole-hearted dedication to the Church.

His dedication to his wife proved exceptional not only by his suspected conversion to the Catholic faith but also by his marriage in a Catholic Church outside of his home city of Delft. The start of this suspicion and conversion was his marriage to a Catholic woman, Catharina Bolnes. However, the public practice of Catholicism put himself at risk.

Johannes Vermeer, Allegory of the Catholic Faith, c. 1671–74 or c. 1670–72

In time, his faith grew more, to where he developed a theology of his own. He, with pushes from his wife and mother-in-law, became strongly related to the faith. To the point that he was even denied opportunities. But he did not compromise. He named his children Catholic names such as Franciscus and Elisabeth. He was deeply involved with his Jesuit sect of Catholicism, naming his youngest known son Ignatius after the sect’s founder. You can even see how much of his faith is reflected directly in his paintings.

The denying of Catholicism in Vermeer’s work is a Protestant lie. To a degree, it can be seen as Christian symbolism, which would have been popular with the whole of the Netherlands at the time. But in many instances, his work is distinctly Catholic. Using symbols and motifs shunned by the Calvinist tyrants. Creating work suspected to have been commissioned by local Catholics and local secret Catholic Churches. 

The most famous of his explicitly spiritual and religious paintings is his “The Allegory of Faith,” sometimes known as “Allegory of the Catholic Faith,” painted in 1670-72. 

This work depicts a woman at a makeshift altar. Around her, there are many symbols of the Catholic faith. The first of which is the stone crushing the snake. Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone of the Catholic Church. The general interpretation of this is Jesus crushing the snake, which is the destruction and triumph of Jesus over Satan and the triumph of the Church as a whole. 

The woman herself represents the Church. Depicting the Church as a woman is not exclusive to this work. Other artists have used a woman to represent the alive entity of the Church. This is because the Church is wholly human. As well as this, using a woman gives maternal symbolism. 

She is surrounded by symbols that represent the entity of the Church and her people and how they relate to sin. First is the apple that lay in front of her. This is the apple, the forbidden fruit, that is to Catholics, symbolic of all human sin and our drive as humans to sin. To balance this, in the background, there is a Crucifixion scene from Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens. This counters the apple; the Crucifixion is our redemption. The human God is suffering for us. From this suffering, the forgiveness of and the ability to go against our sins. 

Every part of this piece has a direct correlation to the Church or the Catholic Faith. 

Another famous female representation of the greater Catholic Faith is “Woman Holding Balance,” which Vermeer painted between 1662 and 1664. 

Johannes Vermeer Woman Holding Balance, c. 1662–63 or c. 1663–64

The Catholic interpretation of this work is that the woman is God herself. She is judging humanity at the end of days. The balance could be her judging humanity as a whole or her judging an individual.

The similarities between this work and The Allegory of Faith continue. Along with the woman representing more significant themes in the Church, there is also the painting in the background. In this case painting of Jesus shows the second coming. This is used to show that the setting of this is not only a woman in a room but that it is the second coming or the judgment day. 

Vermeer’s paintings can be looked at together or just as easily as complete works on their own. However, it is worth looking at how he uses the paintings in the background to set the tone and the theme. He uses paintings of Jesus at different stages to create different meanings and atmospheres. Almost all of Vermeer’s known paintings use either another painting, a mirror, or a tapestry in the background. In the two examples I have gone over, it is to set the tone and symbolic setting, but depending on the painting, he can be using it in any number of different tactics. 

Away from Vermeer’s symbolic representations of the Church and God, he used his painting as a way to represent his faith even more. The next painting to be covered is “Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary,” painted between 1654 and 1656. 

Johannes Vermeer, Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary, c. 1654–55
or c. 1654–56 or c. 1655

Though this painting has less analysis needed to find Catholicism present, there is still something to unpack. This shows Vermeer’s dedication to the Church. His parents and his wife’s parents were upset when they married because of their respective family religions. That is a suspected motivation for the creation of this work. Vermeer may have painted this just to show his dedication to Catholicism. 

Vermeer was an artist dedicated to his faith. The level of devotion Vermeer had as a convert is something most people can learn from today. This devotion played a serious role in his art and life. 

John Lauer is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

The confusion of post-quarantine education

With the two-week reprieve from school in March of 2020 finally ending months later, educators are forced to confront the future of the US school system. With the future uncertain, who can we turn to? What were the benefits, if any, of online learning? What struggles did it pose? What was best for educators, and what was best for students? How does one teach an art-based class virtually? Ryan Foti is an art teacher at Mount Saint Joseph High School. He has been teaching multiple art classes for twelve years, and by 2020 had formed a sort of “classroom flow.”

“Well, I mean, with us in the arts program, there’s a bit of an introduction, and then there’s a lot of work time, and then there’s a reflection.” In a normal year. But as we are brutally aware, 2020 was not a typical year. When asked if a lack of in-person instruction had a significant effect on productivity, Mr. Foti responded: “I see this year (2021) and the year before (2019) and compare it to that 2020 year, and the difference is exponential.” And that, while in person, “In a matter of one and a half seconds I can survey my entire room, see how they’re doing, and identify who needs help and who can be pushed harder.” The benefit of a working classroom, where a teacher can simply walk up behind a student, glance over their work, and offer off-the-cuff instruction is impossible in an online environment. 

Embed from Getty Images

The sudden switch to the most extended two-week reprieve from school posed new challenges. “Everyone has a different device,” Mr. Foti stated, “some students were working with iPads, some were working with computers, so changing what I was doing was really dependant on access to stuff.” The issue stemmed not from a lack of access to technology, as Mount Saint Joseph provides iPads to all their students, however from the variety of technology. “You were teaching the same thing but three different ways: this is how you do it on a computer, this is how you do it on an iPad, and this is how you do it on a phone. Oh, none of those are working cause everything is out? Ok, well, you can draw on a piece of paper and use that as a way to brainstorm. It was a lot of, like, a lot of pivoting. Pivot was a big word.”

Pivoting is nothing new to teachers. In the last two decades, schools have had to rethink how they teach. As technology becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, it becomes more and more necessary in educational environments. Advances in science and math can entirely change curriculums. History changes daily, and some courses such as English have the opportunity to cover a different curriculum (to an extent) every year. Mr. Foti believes that “being able to adapt to students, and their needs is what makes you (the teacher) and your students effective.”

A shift in learning resulted in a change in schedule. Students at Mount Saint Joseph transitioned from a schedule that included eight 40 minute periods in a given day to four 45 minute periods in a day with longer teacher office hours, giving students the ability to meet in small groups via zoom. The schedule also had “off days,” where students would not have a class every day. In a regular schedule, students would have the same classes every day. In the distanced learning schedule, students would have half of their classes one day and the other half the next day. “It works well for the arts because having more time is actually a benefit for us,” Mr. Foti commented, “I would take those off days and say it was an expectation that they did some work for my class on those off days… some did and some didn’t.”

The schedule ultimately changed to become a hybrid schedule, where the student body was split into “cohorts.” These cohorts would alternate days that they would meet in person (cohort 1 was in school on Mondays and Wednesdays, cohort 2 was in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays), and the cohort that was not in school physically attended via zoom. Mr. Foti believes that students and faculty alike were “split between two places;” students couldn’t establish their usual “class culture” that came with being fully in person or online. School serves as many students’ social cocoons, allowing them to develop social skills and collaborate with peers in a way they may not be able to if isolated. 

Where are we headed? What do all these changes mean for the future of education? Mr. Foti believes that the year spent teaching virtually served as a sort of “forced boot camp for a lot of teachers to up their game in terms of 21st-century skills;” in that teachers were forced to relearn how to teach utilizing the advancements in technology we have seen in the last twenty years. Teachers now engage students more rather than encourage the regurgitation of information. Moving forward, we may have opportunities to take classes with students from other countries; however, nothing will replace the classroom flow that in-person school accomplishes.

Connor Sciullo is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Art as a means to strive for beauty

“The first time of many that I really recognized the beauty in art…it brought me from the verge of giving up on art to barely keeping up with all the things I wanted to make.”

Isaac Scharbach, Class of 2017

What if the sole purpose of creating art was to produce something beautiful? Most of the mainstream artists today don’t consider this option because the art that makes up our museums was put together as a means for getting a point across or for self-expression, not solely for beauty. 

Paintings that wish to get a point across demand an audience because they lose all relevance without one. This often makes the authors feel dependent on fame and self-gain.  On the other side of the spectrum, artists who create as a means of expression too often portray themselves and the world as they see it: ugly and dark. Because the two styles mentioned above are what the world consumes, we begin to emulate these values and are degraded by them. 

“Isolation” by Isaac Scharbach ’17. He painted this shortly after discovering the concept of painting something beautiful.

But there’s another option — the art that is created solely for beauty. Such artwork doesn’t need an audience to have value, and it can take the brokenness of the world and look past the present grief it causes. Isaac Scharbach, an artist and a 2017 Mount graduate, reminisced, “The first time of many that I really recognized the beauty in art…it brought me from the verge of giving up on art to barely keeping up with all the things I wanted to make.”

Death of Marat by David
“The Death of Marat.” Wikipedia Commons.

When the selfish aspects of conveying a message and the dark elements to expression take center stage, it affects our perspective and goals. What would the world look like if artists — no, everyone — strove for something that was independent of zeitgeist, something that didn’t deny hardship but looked past the hopelessness; that strove for beauty.

But unfortunately, many artists don’t care for that. The painting “The Death of Marat” depicts a man bathed in soft, glowing light, lying apparently killed in his bathtub. Commissioned by the French to glorify the recently assassinated leader of the French Revolution, this painting was made to convey a message. But when this is the artist’s only goal, there is a demand for an audience. Where there is a demand for an audience, selfish ambition follows close behind. 

Untitled (Skull). Wikipedia Commons. Fair Use – This is a historically significant work that could not be conveyed in words. Inclusion is for information, education, and analysis only.

Many of the works that artists created for expression aren’t much better. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled (Skull)” represents the artist’s despair that he will forever remain a displaced Haitian immigrant. The patchwork, colorful human head appears scarred and bruised, bearing an expression of unconsoled hopelessness. 

Paintings like these too often create patterns of negativity and selfishness. But what if instead of painting the murder of a political figure or a disfigured skull, artists painted the simple beauty of light playing in the folds of drapery or the joy of a child splashing in a mud puddle? I would love to see what such a change in perspective could mean for the world.

Thomas Scharbach is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.