Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant advancements in recent years, but its ability to “read” atmosphere is not one of its successes. After a user posted a virtual rendition created by AI claiming to “complete” a work by the late pop artist Keith Haring, critics are once again questioning the ethical boundaries constantly being pushed by technology, reports Hyperallergic. (You can view the “before and after” of the artwork here).
The original artwork, titled “Untitled Painted,” is filled with emotionally charged symbolism. Haring created the painting in 1989, a year before his death from AIDS complications. It features a pattern of designs in his characteristic style, starting from the top left corner in shades of purple and black, but abruptly halting, with only a few specks of color running down on the white canvas.
The painting serves as a commentary on the loss of those who died early during the HIV/AIDS crisis—including Haring—and the emptiness that remains is the heaviest message in this artwork. In response to a tweet by artist Brooke Peachley in 2023 about “Untitled Painted,” user @DonnelVillager wrote, “The story behind this painting is so heartbreaking! Now, using artificial intelligence, we can complete what he couldn’t finish!” alongside the image of the AI-generated artwork. Reactions were quick and intense, with the warm reactions helping the algorithm of the AI make the tweet go viral (with 30 million views at the time of writing). Responses ranged from disgust and anger to congratulations for “baiting” people into a reaction. Peachley says that regardless of whether it was a bait or not, the post was thoughtless.
“Not only does the ‘completion’ of the painting completely negate its original meaning, but it also offends the tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ siblings who lost their lives during the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Peachley to Hyperallergic. Donnel told NBC News that the tweet was meant to be a joke and later uploaded a YouTube video to “clear up” the misinterpretations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer or a system to perform tasks that require human intelligence, such as image, voice, or text recognition.
Source: Wikipedia – Artificial Intelligence
2. What are the ethical boundaries of technology?
The ethical boundaries of technology refer to the ethical aspects or impacts arising from the use of technological applications or systems. This discussion often focuses on ethical issues related to user data protection, the rejection of privacy infringement, and the societal impact of technology.
Source: Wikipedia – Ethics of Technology
3. Who was Keith Haring?
Keith Haring was an American pop artist known for his illustrative works that featured simple drawings and symbols. He died in 1990 from AIDS complications.
Source: Wikipedia – Keith Haring
4. What exactly is the artwork “Untitled Painted”?
“Untitled Painted” is a painting created by Keith Haring in 1989 prior to his death. It features a pattern of designs in his characteristic style, with shades of purple and black interrupted and only a few specks of color running down on the white canvas.
Source: Keith Haring Foundation – https://www.haring.com
5. How did artificial intelligence recreate Keith Haring’s artwork?
Artificial intelligence produced a virtual rendition of Keith Haring’s artwork, claiming to “complete” it. This means that a new image was generated attempting to replicate the style and aesthetics of the original artwork using artificial intelligence.
Source: Article on Artificial Intelligence and Artistic Creation