Art schools facing artificial intelligence: “Students must not be late”

At the forefront of the rapid development of artificial intelligence, teachers and students seek to integrate these developments into their practice in a positive way.

If AI disrupts visual creation, it also has an impact on training. Because everyone is wondering: what about tomorrow? How will future creators work? Several schools are already adapting to give students technical and critical tools. At Esad Orléans, for example, the research program “Publishing, media, design: Expanded Publishing, when data becomes form”, directed by Emmanuel Cyriaque, works on artificial intelligence (AI). A dozen students, trained by a critical discourse on “machine learning”, thus familiarized themselves with Dall-E 2 and Midjourney to tell a story by creating a card game. In Switzerland, the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (Ecal), which trains photographers, designers, artistic directors, graphic designers, is aware that certain professions in the visual production chain will be affected, such as during the transition from photography film to all digital.

“Creative potential of these technologies”

“It is impossible to stop this progress, and there is an urgent need to redefine our economic and creative role in these processes so that we can remain the actors of our images”, explains the director of photography at Ecal, Milo Keller. The latter points out that there are already companies that offer AI-generated photorealistic portraits – loss of earnings for photographers and models. Ecal therefore quickly tackled these issues with the program “Automated Photography” in 2021 at the origin of texts and an exhibition. “Artificial intelligence is everywhere, and it operates automatically on many levels: from our smartphones to the latest Photoshop filters, continues Milo Keller. Today, studying the fundamentals of photography must be accompanied by an awareness of how AI-based tools work. From common applications to lesser-known programs like Runway ML or Playform, it is no longer necessary to know how to code to access the functionalities of machine learning.” It is also a question of not missing out on the “creative potential of these technologies”.

At Les Gobelins in Paris, the teaching team trains students to use generators in order to “make a place for themselves” alongside machines, to be “actors” in this digital revolution. The objective of the school is above all to learn to free oneself from it. Because “How can AI not impose themes and styles?” asks Yann Philippe, teacher, photographer and retoucher. “We are facing a huge paradigm shift in visual creation. Students should not be late. They must learn to work with computer scientists, coders, special effects specialists to create tailor-made tools. We create bridges with augmented reality, motion design. And the video is coming soon.”

“AI will not make the distinction”

Still according to Yann Philippe, post-production jobs will be very affected by AI. First of all, the profession of beauty photo retoucher, in the luxury sector in particular. What today requires three hours of work for a retoucher on an image will only take ten seconds… But these new tools will also pose ethical problems: “We don’t like removing scars, explains Yann Thomas. The AI ​​will not distinguish between a hair, a blackhead, a scar and a redness.In January, Gobelins students will have to mix AI images with their own photos. And will be inspired by it to make real photographs. Theirs. Always have the last word after the machine.

Art schools facing artificial intelligence: “Students must not be late”