Breaking point in art?

Midjourney is a brand new toy running on Discord’s platform that allows us to create sophisticated paintings from a short text by using Artificial Intelligence technology. 

The company, which just opened his beta to general public, is becoming stronger and presenting itself as a great competition to its predecessor DALL·E , which despite offering more possibilities of image generation, even from an existing picture, is still in need of an invitation to be tested. 

How does Midjourney work?

Well, as all AIs, it is pretty simple. You just need to have a Discord account, follow its link for open invitation and start the trial on one of its #newbies channels at the sidebar. 

Type /imagine and click on the :prompt field that pops up just above. Once that is done, write a short text, description or just a few words expressing what you want to represent, and voilà, magic is done. Midjourney will generate four images from your text, that you can either transform or upscale and download. 

The first time I tried it it felt like real magic. It created very elaborated and detailed paintings from complicated concepts, often very abstract, connecting and mixing them through Deep Learning technology. 

Some tests with the words: japanese, warrior, ink, black and white, red roses

And now you will be wondering…
What is Deep Learning Technology?

Relax, despite its hardcore technical explanation, it is pretty easy to understand as a general concept. I will try my best: 

Deep Learning is a sideline from Machine Learning that intends to recreate the behavior of human brain connections on a computer network, the so-called “Artificial Neural Networks”.

It has at least 3 layers of programming, and unlike machine learning, its algorithms allow a non-structured process to learn. This basically means that the system can learn and understand context autonomously from non-labeled inputs such as images, documents and audios, instead of tabular languages with structured data and, I repeat, it does not need human supervision. The same way, it is able to produce these images, texts and audios as well.

In short, it is an artificial brain that learns, interprets and is capable of generating responses without human help

That is how Midjourney works to create its digital art. It is run from a bot inside Discord, without the need for an app, although this would be much more comfortable. 

And the BIG question: Is Midjourney real art?

Well, it is an interesting controversial debate that leads us back to the eternal question, what is art? As I see it, art is motive and emotion.  And we need to have in mind that Midjourney is just a tool, just another tool like many others that artists have used in the course of history to create and produce their works.
It cannot be responsible for the wide range of applications users can play with. They can use it either with a clear purpose, to explore possibilities of AI and their own imagination, or just to see their emotions depicted (one of the most exciting choices for me). All of them are totally valid to my eyes.

But, what do tools like Midjorney mean for artists and the market?

To be honest, my first thought was that this would replace the work of many artists and platforms of stock images for agencies. It is a technology in process and even so, it has quite stunning results. And I will definitely use it in my articles, as I have done in this one.

We are facing the beginning of a new stage, where in practical terms, tools will be replacing artists as craftspeople: art work for companies, art concepts, book illustrations, storyboards… sky is the limit.  

Of course, the bright side is that this technology will open a new world of possibilities to express ourselves through art. This therapeutic process is no longer for just gifted artists, but for everybody, from physical or neurological treatments, to educational matters, or mental health therapies and rehabs. 

I must say it is a great exercise also for artists to explore their own creativity and combine it with other tools like Photoshop or After Effects to achieve even better results. These mixed compositions are all over social platforms by now, and most of them are awesome.

It feels like The Rise of the Machines is closer and closer to the art world, museums and exhibitions. And just our souls will be the difference between a true piece of art and an empty computer generation. Question is, will we be able to distinguish them?