Shelling out millions for a piece of art is nothing new, but doing it for digital paintings, memes and GIFs is a whole other story. These days, collectors are willing to part ways with some really big bucks to snatch top NFTs and cash in on the craze that’s taken over the digital art market. And while you might have heard about it all, what you might not know is who exactly is behind this art. Or rather, what is.
See, until now NFTs have been the product of human creativity being given a helping hand by technology. Browsing through the world’s largest NFT marketplaces like Nifty Gateway or OpenSea, you’re more likely than not to find art made by humans. And those are the tokens selling for top dollar.
But the dark horse of NFTs might be something else altogether. Get ready because your next favorite artist might be AI - and it’s something you're unlikely to have ever come across before.
Art made entirely by artificial intelligence has been touted as the ‘next big thing’ and that's gotten collectors are buying in. A collection of NFTs created by a robot artist named Botto sold for over $1.1m last year and projects like the AI Art House feature generative art NFTs that so closely resembles the likes of Monet, Mondrian and van Gogh you’d be forgiven to think they’re long lost art pieces by past art geniuses.
But in the end, AI-generated art is able to produce one-of-a-kind pieces that push the limits of exploration and creativity beyond human touch.
What Is Generative Art? (And How Does It All Work)
Artificial intelligence is commonly understood to be the ability by a non-human model (or machine) to solve sophisticated tasks and perform human-like cognitive functions like learning, problem solving, reasoning and perceiving.
When it comes to art, the concept is based on the idea that machine learning algorithms are capable of producing original images when adequately trained using a vast amount of image data using a technology called General Adversarial Networks (or GANs for short). Just like a painter who’s taken years to perfect their craft, AI is also able to learn from endless hours of training and become able to generate images that were never drawn before.
How this actually works in real life is simple; in order to create a new piece of art, a human artist can simply enter keywords or sentences into an artificially intelligent model that will then use algorithms to analyze millions of works of art and produce its own images as a visual interpretation or representation of the original text.
That is the framework behind a tool called Eponym, developed by art platform Art AI, which leverages text-to-art in order to develop AI-generative NFTs. The developer has explained that its algorithms are inspired by “a vast collection of art from throughout history” and that AI draws inspiration from being exposed to different art genres, periods, subjects and styles to create NFTs from scratch, each with their own distinct style. The result is, according to the developer, otherworldly images of novel styles and contents.
This way, users can easily create a new abstract art piece based on the text they choose and mint it directly to OpenSea. Moreover, single words can only be used once, meaning there will ever be two NFTs based on the same text.
Eponym allows human touch to be combined with AI algorithms, which has led to some mind-blowing art. And taking it even a step further, a Gen 2 collection of NFTs now allows minters to give sets of instructions to the AI system, including emotions, color schemes, visual styles, and more.
The adoption of AI generative features by artists has been hailed as a new era in art, where the combination of human imagination and AI art based on input text has extended the possibilities of art itself to unknown and yet exciting depths.
Generative Art NFTs: Top Projects Right Now
AI-powered art is slowly grabbing the attention of art enthusiasts and NFT collectors all around the world. Developments in the technology have allowed pieces to become more visually complex and appealing, while bringing to life new art genres that human artists have yet to imagine. As the saying goes, art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation, but here are a NFT generative art projects that will hopefully catch your eye:
We’ve mentioned Eponym before as it’s the project to follow for NFT enthusiasts. Developed by Art AI which is the world’s largest gallery of AI generated art, this text-to-art generation relies on algorithms that personalize generative art and that assists users in creating NFTs based on phrases or words of their choice, as detailed by Art AI co-founder, Eyal Fisher. Each text prompt can only be generated once, meaning that Eponym creates truly one-of-a-kind pieces. The project has been a resounding success with Eponym’s first drop selling out in a matter of hours on OpenSea. And the good news is that you don’t have to have any particular skills or art inclinations to join in. In fact, most people that are part of the 3500-strong Eponym community are not professional artists and the platform is intuitive and simple to use. Although generative AI is still a fairly new concept for most of us, the developer of Eponym believes that collaboration between humans and computers will become commonplace in the art world, describing it as “an experiment in decentralized art.”
You might need to do a double take when looking at Metascapes. If you’re like us, you’ll be left wondering what’s real and what’s the product of artificial intelligence. This project is the brainchild of photographers Cath Simard, Ryan Newburn, Iurie Belegurschi, whose goal is to bridge human expression with artificial intelligence algorithms. Metascapes’ consists of 2555, including 266 videos, of rare AI-generated NFTs based on photos taken from some of the world's most impressive locations. The result is a mix between natural and the supernatural, where viewers aren’t quite sure of how much they can trust their eyes. The developers of Metascapes themselves admit that there’s an “uncanny valley” effect to the NFTs - and we agree.
Dubbing itself as the first ever AI Art NFT series, Artificial Intelligence Art is an NFT project developed by AI Art House. There are currently 1001 pieces available on OpenSea and only 10,001 AI Art House NFTs will ever be minted. Each piece is entirely unique and one-of-a-kind, made by neural networks that generate art in a variety of genres. Most pieces start at 0.1 ETH, currently around $300 USD. More recently, AI Art released its first ‘liquid art’ made by AI consisting of GIFs of a variety of AI-generated artworks that each feed into one another. Unlike Eponym, for example, Artificial Intelligence Art NFTs are made without the help from humans beyond the initial programming of the AI algorithm. As a bonus, every NFT sale entitles the original buyer to a physical free print of their piece, framed in whatever canvas as they want.
Last year saw “Faceless Portrait #1” becoming the first AI NFT artwork generated by a machine-generated artist to pass the Turing test, a method created by computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing to determine whether or not a computer is capable of behaving or even thinking like a human being. As described by its developer, Dr. Ahmed Elgammal, AICAN (AI Creative Adversarial Network) is the first and only AI artist trained on 100,000 of the greatest works in art history, from Rembrandt to Bruegel, Warhol and Rauschenberg. Because of this unique perspective, AICAN is able to take inspiration from the centuries of art history and the human brain’s response to aesthetics and creativity to develop unique pieces of art. Works created by AICAN works have been a permanent fixture in museums, galleries and art fairs around the world.
Long before NFTs started blowing up, there was Obvious. This French art collective was responsible for “Edmond de Belamy”, which became the first artificial intelligence-generated artwork to be sold at a major auction back in 2018. It sold for over $430,000, which was 40 times over the estimate. Since then, Obvious has dabbled in the NFT space using using Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to create a little bit of everything from animated maps, to mugshots and landscapes. Las year, the collective rode on its success from a partnership with the famed art gallery Kamel Mennour to displaying a series of original digital artworks at the Museum of Crypto Art (MoCA). Check out their generative NFT art creations on SuperRare.
Pak is no stranger to making a splash. After all, this is the digital artist who managed to sell a single pixel for $1.36 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Have we also mentioned that Pak is credited for having introduced Beeple to NFTs? Clearly, Lost Poets might be a Pak project that you’ll want to keep track of. Characterized as an NFT collectible and a strategy game, the AI-generated NFT collection includes 65,536 obtainable NFTs and 1,024 Origin NFTs. Each Poet is created by an AI developed just for this project. Lost Poet collects might also rejoice when knowing that each of this AI-generated NFT can be customized with a name and a tale of their own. As for the largest NFT sale you may have never heard of, Pak reportedly managed to make a cool $70 million in under two hours from the initial launch of Lost Poets. Clearly, this is a generative artist you won't want to miss.
AI Generative Art In The Metaverse
NFTs are blowing up across the board, from fashion and music to real estate and entertainment. And nowhere is the need for non-fungible tokens and its applicability more evident than in the metaverse. We’ve delved deeper into the topic before so feel free to have a peek.
Currently, software like Eponym is exploring using artificial intelligence to create interactive 3D avatars that can be used in virtual worlds. And experts predict integration of AI in the creation of NFTs could eventually reach a level when users are able to chat directly with AI to create new art.
Such has become the value of NFTs that art collectors are now able to frame their precious art collections and proudly display them in the metaverse thanks to platforms like Frahm. This is sure to become a sought-after service as more art galleries and auction houses make a bet in virtual worlds.
In a metaverse like Sensorium Galaxy, AI, VR and NFTs will be inextricably linked. Once publicly launched, our metaverse aims to be a blank canvas for human and AI creativity, where users create their original NFT content like new avatars or dance moves, and sell it through the Sensorium Marketplace using SENSO. AI-powered virtual beings are also a crucial element of Sensorium Galaxy, providing companionship and creative inspiration to users as they travel between worlds and experiences.
While being an integral part of our metaverse, generative artificial intelligence will perhaps be the most visible in Motion, a world dedicated to music entertainment. Thanks to our partnership with Mubert, we’ve been able to develop some of the world’s first social AI DJs and make history in the process. By leveraging AI generative music algorithms in the metaverse, Sensorium Galaxy will enable users to experience music in a more personalized, dynamic and meaningful way as we’ve detailed before.
And while AI technology has only recently found application to the generation of art and music in metaverse-like settings, there are reasons to believe it could one day surpass the sizing and impact seen in real life.
What's The Future of Generative Art NFTs?
Currently, creating AI-generated art is still a trial-and-error process and there’s perhaps still a long way before an AI NFT reaches the level of appreciation of a Picasso or Cézanne. For now, we can count mostly on art with a degree of human involvement but with a creative process led completely by artificial intelligence. By tokenizing this new era of hybrid creation, AI generative NFTs are poised to become a game changer in creation and monetization of digital creativity.