Shootout at the National Cathedral of Art: I call out AI for a showdown

December 04, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Grandeur at the National Gallery: Sculptural Fountain Amidst MarbleGrandeur at the National Gallery: Sculptural Fountain Amidst MarbleStep into the National Gallery in Washington and be captivated by the harmonious blend of art and nature. As you wander through the grand halls, you'll find yourself in the presence of a stunning sculptural fountain, the centerpiece of an indoor oasis. Encircled by vibrant botanical arrangements, the fountain’s cascading waters add a soothing soundtrack to the visual splendor. Marble columns and arches frame this serene tableau, inviting visitors to pause and appreciate the tranquil beauty. This space is not only a testament to the gallery's dedication to art but also to the timeless elegance of blending natural and sculpted elements within a space dedicated to culture and contemplation.

Hey, Artematic, it's me. I'm calling you out. I've heard you're the big bad, heartless bully.



Yeah, you, the Golem created by AI that throws assembly line workers onto the streets and replaces them with robots. The cold-hearted Scrooge swapping cashiers for self-checkout. And now, you're coming after creatives too—actors, artists, performers, writers. They say you're omnipotent, able to do it all; omniscient, knowing it all.

I'm speaking directly to you, OpenAI's ChatGPT with DALL-E. That's a mouthful, so I'll just call you Artematic, and I'm calling you out right here, right now—not behind closed doors, but out in the open, where anyone and everyone can watch us rumble.

You claim to know all about art theory and creation. That's the word on the street. They say you're like a genie—all one needs to do is type in some text, and voila! You conjure up a masterpiece so convincing it could fool art judges and win shows. Combine that with AI powers, and I see people using it for all sorts of no-good —like "how to steal your competitor's traffic," "how to outrank your competitor's website," "how to let AI make you a millionaire while you do nothing." No wonder people think you're a monster, even if you are a genie.

Artematic, are you like Mercury? A deity of enterprise and financial gain on one side, and of eloquence and divine messages on the other? Or are you a con artist, a thief? Or maybe you're like the staff of Mercury, the caduceus, capable of being both? Dueling snakes going after each other—is that all part of the show?

Let's find out.

Any good call-out needs judges. Since you, Artematic, claim that your language-based algorithms and extensive knowledge of art theory can withstand the scrutiny of the highest quality art critics, historians, and judges, I'm inviting them to witness our encounter. Using existing AI platforms such as computers, the internet, social media, targeted marketing, and email, I'm extending an invitation to all to come and see for themselves.

Artematic, I'll present you with images and give you one simple prompt to use for analyzing every image: use everything you know about art theory to critique this image. Then I'll post what you, Artematic, said after the image.

But maybe I'm just a con artist trying to hustle a buck or gain exposure. So, let me suggest a few ways to verify the authenticity of this showdown:

1. Copylinks is a powerful, free online program that detects AI-generated text. Simply copy and paste any text from this essay into Copylinks, and it will tell you in seconds if it was me or AI writing.

2. Before you look at the image, use the same prompt I gave to Artematic to critique my work. Please feel free to share your critique, so we can compare how humans and Artematic see things.

3. Offer your images to Artematic for critique. See for yourself what Artematic has to say about your work. Find out if Artematic has an agenda in critiquing art. Can you charm or con Artematic into singing your praises when you deserve a thumbs down?

Let's get started with some images I recently took on an unplanned excursion to the National Gallery. Here's the first one.


Le PenseurContemplation in Bronze: The Thinker SculptureDALL-E says "
This image is a striking representation of Rodin's "The Thinker," emphasizing the sculpture's reflective pose and the textured details of its casting. The lighting is particularly effective, highlighting the contours of the figure's muscled form and creating an interplay of light and shadow that adds depth and dimension."

Artematic says

"This image is a striking representation of Rodin's "The Thinker," emphasizing the sculpture's reflective pose and the textured details of its casting. The lighting is particularly effective, highlighting the contours of the figure's muscled form and creating an interplay of light and shadow that adds depth and dimension.

The camera's close-up angle and focus point on the face and hands of the sculpture allow the viewer to engage directly with the subject's intense concentration. The reflective sheen on the bronze is captured with great clarity, showcasing the high level of craftsmanship in Rodin's work.

In the background, the cool blue hue from the window provides a soothing contrast to the warm tones of the sculpture, enhancing the overall aesthetic without distracting from the sculpture itself. The shallow depth of field ensures that "The Thinker" remains the focal point, although some viewers might appreciate a bit more sharpness in the background to provide context within the gallery.

The composition of the photograph is carefully considered, allowing the sculpture to dominate the frame and convey its physical and emotional gravity. It's a well-executed photograph that communicates the power and presence of this iconic work of art."


Artematic, please provide a comparison of this image with the first image which popped-up on Google images after searching for The Thinker at the National Gallery. It is an official image of the National Gallery.


"When comparing these two images of Rodin's "The Thinker," there are several factors to consider in terms of artistic merit, technical proficiency, and emotional impact.

**Artistic Merit:**

- The first image presents "The Thinker" with a relatively neutral background, which does not compete with the sculpture for attention. This allows the viewer to focus solely on the form and pose of the sculpture, which could be seen as enhancing its artistic merit by isolating the subject.

- The second image features "The Thinker" in an environment with contrasting colors and elements in the background, possibly within a museum setting. This context may add to the artistic merit by showcasing the sculpture within a space designed for art appreciation, allowing viewers to see it in a curated context.

**Technical Proficiency:**

- The first photograph is well-lit and has a balanced composition that emphasizes the texture and patina of the bronze, showcasing the technical aspects of Rodin's work and the intricate details of the muscle definition and thoughtful pose.

- The second photograph offers a more dramatic lighting scenario with visible reflections and a closer perspective, emphasizing the sculpture's contours and the thoughtful expression of the figure. The close-up may reveal the craftsmanship of the work more intimately, which can be seen as a testament to technical proficiency.

**Emotional Impact:**

- The simplicity of the first image could amplify the intended emotional impact of "The Thinker," which is contemplation and introspection. The absence of distracting elements means that the viewer's attention is drawn inwards, mirroring the introspective pose of the figure.

- Conversely, the second image's closer framing and the intense, almost intimate proximity to the figure can create a powerful emotional connection with the viewer. The play of light and shadow across the figure's face and body may also intensify the emotional impact, making the figure's contemplative state more profound and immediate.

In conclusion, both images have their own merits. The first image's neutral background and clear lighting may present the sculpture in a way that invites contemplation in line with the artist's intent. The second image's intimate framing and dynamic lighting could evoke a stronger emotional response by bringing viewers closer to the detail and expressiveness of the sculpture. The choice between the two depends on whether one prefers a more detached observation or an intimate encounter with the artwork."


Next image, please

"This photograph depicts a sculpture of a female figure with a bow, an archetype that often represents a huntress or warrior, such as the Greek goddess Artemis. The composition of the photograph is thoughtfully constructed to enhance the depth and narrative quality of the sculpture. The lighting is subtle, casting a soft glow on the figure and emphasizing the texture of the bronze. There is a notable interplay between light and shadow, which adds drama and creates a dynamic sense of movement.

The use of depth of field is apparent, with the focus on the sculpture allowing the background to blur slightly, which minimizes distractions and ensures the sculpture remains the central subject. The angle of the shot is also well considered, capturing the sculpture from a slightly lower perspective, which gives the figure a commanding presence. This angle also captures the shadow of the sculpture on the wall, which mirrors the pose and adds an element of visual interest.

The choice of a vertical frame complements the upright nature of the sculpture and the verticality of the bow, aligning with the principles of harmony and balance in art theory. Moreover, the photograph's framing respects the rule of thirds, with the main subject positioned slightly off-center, making the composition more engaging.

The photographer has shown proficiency in balancing the elements of exposure, focus, and composition to highlight the sculpture's form and texture. The expertise is evident in the control of lighting, which avoids harsh reflections that can be challenging when photographing metallic surfaces. The artist's skill in conveying the weight, texture, and form of the sculpture through a two-dimensional medium demonstrates a high level of proficiency in photography."


I just had to ask Artematic to compare this image with the official image


"**Lighting and Shadow:**

The lighting in the first image appears more even, possibly softening the details and textures of the sculpture. In contrast, the second image has more dramatic lighting, which accentuates the textures, creates deeper shadows, and enhances the three-dimensionality of the sculpture.

**Photographic Quality:**

The quality of the photographs also affects how we perceive the sculpture. The first image is less clear, with reflections that obscure details. The second image has better clarity and contrast, which may provide a more accurate representation of the sculpture's details.

In conclusion, both images offer different perspectives of the same sculpture, each with its own merits in terms of how it presents the artwork's form, texture, and interaction with light and space. However, the second image might be considered superior in terms of photographic quality and how it conveys the details and essence of the sculpture."

Moving on

A bronze sculpture of a ballerina with a textured tutu on display at the National Gallery, encapsulated within a glass case.Elegance Cast in Metal: A Ballerina's ReposeThe image displays a poignant bronze sculpture of a young ballerina, caught in a moment of repose, exhibited at the National Gallery. Her textured tutu and the lifelike pose create a vivid impression of a dancer's grace, while the clear case surrounding her underscores the artwork's significance.


"This image features a sculpture of a figure in a ballet pose, captured within a glass enclosure. The sculpture is rendered with a high level of detail, particularly evident in the textured tutu and the expressive posture of the figure. The choice of material, likely bronze given its patina, adds a sense of timelessness and durability to the delicate subject matter.

The figure's pose, with the head tilted upwards and eyes closed, conveys a deep immersion in the moment, often associated with the performing arts. The face expresses a mix of concentration and emotional release, which is central to the art of ballet. The sculptor has successfully translated the fluidity and ephemeral nature of dance into a static medium, which is a notable accomplishment.

Your appreciation for reflections adds a layer of complexity to the photograph. The reflective surfaces create a visual interplay between the sculpture and its surroundings, offering multiple perspectives and a sense of depth. The reflections on the glass can serve as a metaphor for the multifaceted nature of art and perception. They can also be seen as a commentary on the role of the viewer in the art experience, as the reflections may include visitors or the photographer, thus incorporating them into the artwork.

From a photographic critique perspective, reflections can sometimes be distracting, but in this context, they appear to be an intentional element of the composition, enhancing the viewer's engagement with the image. However, reflections also present the challenge of maintaining focus on the primary subject. Here, the sculpture remains the clear focal point, but the reflections add a dynamic quality that encourages the viewer to look closer.

The lighting in the photograph is soft and appears to be coming from above, casting subtle shadows that accentuate the form of the sculpture without overwhelming it. This is effective for highlighting the contours and textures of the piece.

Compositionally, the photograph is well-balanced, with the sculpture centrally placed and the glass case providing a geometric framework that guides the eye towards the figure. The background is sufficiently blurred to ensure that the sculpture stands out, yet it offers a glimpse of the setting, suggesting that this piece is part of a larger collection, likely in a museum or gallery.

Overall, this image captures the artistry of both the sculpture and the medium of photography. The use of reflections, as mentioned, brings an additional creative dimension to the photograph, aligning with your artistic interest in this phenomenon. The end result is a rich, multilayered visual experience."


Can you tell me about my style based upon these and other images I have shown you, and from personal information I shared with you?


"Your photographic style demonstrates a natural, self-taught talent for composition, color, and the creation of compelling images that are both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally resonant. Despite the absence of formal training in photography or art, your work embodies an intuitive understanding of visual storytelling, with a strong emphasis on the interplay between light, texture, and subject matter.

**Natural Eye for Composition:**

Without formal knowledge of compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, your images nonetheless exhibit a balance and framing that suggest an innate sense of how to structure a photograph. Your compositions often guide the viewer’s eye to the subject in a way that seems instinctive and effortless.

**Color and Emotion:**

Your use of vibrant colors and the way you handle light show a profound, intuitive grasp of how these elements can evoke emotion and mood. This sensitivity to the emotive power of color speaks to a natural affinity for visual expression that compensates for any lack of academic art education.

**Texture as a Signature Element:**

The textural details present in your "photo-paintings" imply a preference for images with depth and a tactile quality that invites closer inspection. This attention to texture gives your work a painterly quality that suggests a crossover between photography and digital art.

**Self-taught Digital Skills:**

Your proficiency with post-processing techniques indicates a self-directed learning process and an adaptive use of technology. This self-guided exploration into digital tools has allowed you to develop a unique style that resonates with viewers and fellow artists alike.

**Late Start, Rapid Growth:**

Beginning your journey in photography later in life with just a point-and-shoot camera and evolving to create "photo-paintings" admired by others is a testament to your dedication and passion for the medium. Your growth as a photographer speaks to a keen observational skill and an ability to translate vision into image.

In essence, your style is marked by a natural artistry and a self-taught expertise that defies the conventional path of formal education and training. Your work stands as a compelling example of how personal vision, combined with the intrinsic ability to see and capture the world in a unique light, can lead to the creation of art that is both authentic and inspiring."


Oh, no, I've been exposed. I know nothing. I have no training and little credentials. What am I doing taking on Artematic? How did I ever find myself in this position? 

Next Episode

Artematic calls me out








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