Concerns grow over possible AI art in Museum London gift shop

An exterior image of Museum London. CREDIT: MUSEUM LONDON
A Londoner is raising concerns over artwork being sold in Museum London’s gift shop, stating that the works appear to be at least partially created using AI.

A London artist is voicing concerns over suspicions that Museum London is selling art in its gift shop which he believes was produced with artificial intelligence (AI).

“You just walk into the shop, you can even do so right now if you want,” said London resident and 3D Artist, Fyodor Postnov. “They’re upwards of $400, the price tags are right there. A lot of people go to the gift shop having no idea how AI generation works.”

With attention growing over the use of AI being integrated into creative outlets, plenty of controversy has begun over the ethics and potential job losses caused by artificially generated art. This could be seen recently with the movie Late Night with the Devil, which has faced online boycotts over the use of the AI art transitions used in the film.

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The artist behind the works being sold at Museum London, Diego Tamayo, said he has turned to AI in the past, primarily for inspiration.

“I want to look for many inspirations,” said Tamayo. “I read many books about art, looking for inspiration, and sometimes I find artificial intelligence, and it’s amazing, but I want to go farther than that.”

He went into some of the details on his prior art processes.

“Before going into photographs, I worked in oil and different techniques. My next step was doing that photography and then painting over the photographs. My inspiration was some kind of artificial intelligence, but I decided to be a part of this because I want to be different.”

The Museum London shop said that they don’t have an established process for vetting the works of those they work with through their shop.

“We carry reproductions of original artwork, we carry original work, all across the map,” said Manager of Retail Services, Kerry Logan. “Typically, what I would say is we wouldn’t comment on an artist’s process, any more than I would comment on how one of our oil painters is making his finished product.”

Tamayo is an artist who lives in London, born in Bogotá, Colombia, whose art is being featured and sold in the Museum London shop. On the artist’s Instagram page, he shows that he has worked previously in AI-based art as well as crypto-art, such as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

“We’ve been working with Diego for a little over a year,” said Logan. “We were introduced to Diego through an artist collective that we work with called Simple Reflections, they represent a number of different artists, musicians, and artisans who have all settled in London from South American countries. We’ve had a long standing relationship with Simple Reflections, so that’s how Diego got to be introduced to me at the shop.”

The main pieces which Postnov brings into question for AI usage, come from a new collection focused around cats.

He said that, when looking closer at the pieces, there are some inconsistencies that arise that can display the connections to AI generation.

“Most of the time, they’re trained at low-resolutions than what their output will eventually end up being. They leave behind artifacts that you see in patterns, which you usually see when you zoom in. Basically, it’s repetitive patterns, it really messes those up on small scales when you have to zoom in,” said Postnov.

Using an AI detection tool, one piece of art currently being sold at the Museum was deemed as “highly likely” to have been created with AI, with 98 per cent of the image’s content coming back as AI generated.

According to Tamayo though, this could happen with any photo or artwork.

“If you put any image into an artificial intelligence web page, even a photograph or something like that, they will read it like it was artificially made because they describe everything. They say, ‘This is something with those colours, those images.’”

The Museum London shop said that it has been given no indication from the artist of any use of AI in their work, but that they don’t push for specifics with any artist.

“He has never mentioned AI to me in his process. I don’t sit down and chat with everyone about exactly all the steps that go into whatever product they are selling through here,” said Logan. “It’s all so new and evolving. I don’t even know what that [process] would look like, in terms of determining if a piece of artwork has been AI generated.”