Digital Folk Artists

Folk Art: Art and objects made by people who are not artists, using styles and materials from where they live

The Museum Network

I was very involved in the Second Life art community twenty years ago. Most of the people I met there were actively producing images, videos, and creative writing for the first time in their lives. It demonstrated how new technology and a supportive environment could awaken latent human creative potential. Here’s what I wrote in 2009:

Browsing through Raw Vision the other day, it occurred to me that most of us who make art in Second Life are not trained artists; and that the sculpture, machinima, images, fashion and other works we create can be classified as Folk Art or Art Brut.

Second Life Creatives as Digital Folk Artists. 

Over the past few months, there’s been an explosion of “non-artists” using generative AI tools for artistic expression. The tech is revolutionary. The way it’s used is quite ordinary. From cave painting to mobile photography, humans have used the tools of their time to produce creative works. Today, we live in a blended physical and digital environment. There is no essential difference between using a paintbrush or an iPad stylus.

What’s unique about generative AI is that the journey from an idea to a shareable work is almost frictionless. I’m not proposing that the millions of images created through simple text prompts are serious works of art. But the potential is there for those who dig deeper.

Using generative AI tools in an intentional creative process starts with a simple movement from an idea to an image. But it doesn’t stop there. The initial image inspires new ideas that are fed back into the software. This iterative feedback loop between human and artificial intelligence becomes a fertile collaboratory for folk artists in the Digital Age.

Image created by compositing multiple images created in MidJourney

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