Interview mit Costin Chioreanu von twilight13media

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After the artist Metastazis surprised us in part 3 of this special with a very AI-positive stance, we were able to interview another renowned artist, Costin Chioreanu, on the subject. Without taking offence at AI or its users, the Romanian takes a completely different stance to his colleague from France. A conversation about unhappy people, nasty things made by AI and handmade shit.

[Except for the Deicide cover, the images used to illustrate the article are not AI-edited images. The images created by Costin Chioreanu were selected by the editors with the permission of the artist]

We already spoke to your colleague Metastazis, who is very open to AI, while others didn’t want to talk to us because they are so against AI. On a scale from 0 (completely against the use of AI) to 10 (extremely enthusiastic about AI) – where would you categorise yourself as a person, but also as an artist?
If you ask where I would place myself from the point of view of using it, on zero, because I do not need it. Maybe it can be useful, like a Photoshop AI assistant or something like that, to fix some tasks which I consider the most boring part of my work. But the boring tasks have their own role, by being boring. After I am doing a boring task, I am super excited to do something which is more creative. Without boring tasks, I would never enjoy that much the creative ones, as I will lack the experience of contrast. So, to finalize the answer, if you ask me about myself, clearly, zero. Zero interest.

Have you personally dealt with the topic, either in the context of image creation or also with other AIs?
Nope, I never used it, I never even try it once, on those websites. You see, I am living pretty much into my own world, I actually started to cultivate the respect for the innate artistic voice and intuition, and I am trying to keep myself away of any influences which can dilute my graphic originality and personal tone. I would rather stay in a chamber without internet, travelling within myself and asking myself about how I shall illustrate a concept rather than going and search it on Google. This is my level from now, so image how far I am from AI.

So, you can’t imagine incorporating AI into your actual artistic work?
No, I see no point of incorporate it. I am struggling with having many enormous ideas for my personal work, which are growing week by week philosophically and ideologically, and I have no time to start doing the pieces because I am so busy with my commissioned projects for bands and musicians, festivals and labels. I know I am here to offer a new perspective over things. This tool called AI which everybody seems to be stressed about is only an aggregator. Like Google, like any other aggregator. So what it is offering in terms of outputs is nothing but a combination of everything which was made already by others, most probably including my own work. Well, that sounds nothing but a boring toy for me. It can be a very cool toy for people who are not here to invent things. That’s fine, we are not all of us here for that, and we all need our toys. Maybe artists are stressed about becoming less „special“, once with this AI goes in hands of everyone. Well, everything is in continuous change and no matter how much we would love to be in control of the perception of others, we are not. The single thing which we are in control of, but nobody is teaching us that is our own reality and perception.

In general, how do you work with your pictures, what techniques and what technology do you use?
I am into all the techniques, so depending on what I want to do I can go by classic brush and acryl over canvas or paper, pencil or black ink liners. The procedure I am following the most is the following: I am starting drawing the sketch in pencil over a blank white paper. After I am happy with the overall vibe and dynamic of the sketch – and my client is also giving me the ok to go further – I am drawing over the pencil drawing using black ink liners. I imagine what textures and effects I want to add into my art and I create these parts separately. These can be watercolor on paper, acrylic on canvas, tempera on paper, white liner on black paper… Sometimes I am adding on top a light texture which I have it as a photo. After I finished all the components, I scan the black and white drawing and photograph the textures or scan the rest of add-ons. I assemble everything by computer, into one piece. I developed this style over the last 20 years, from my experience of working with clients and from the need of having everything as customizable and editable as possible. Is more work as a classic painter is doing, but this way I can have the same art easily adapted for several very diverse type of mediums, as a front cover for a vinyl, a layout for a 9 x 16 idiotic aspect ratio which social media is asking for, a video animation for a song, a merch design at one color. It will be always the same art, but adapted at 100 % potential for the specific layout or type of printing. So this is the big thing I am offering. Of course, I can easily go classic and have a classic „flatten“ type of handmade art and that’s it, but then I cannot have this 100 % potential for the same art when I need to print it at one color, or to adapt only parts of it’s whole composition, like only the overall background and mid-background, without affecting the main image and without distorting anything.

„AI art“ is a term that can be discussed philosophically – can there be „art“ without a human artist, can an AI create „art“?
As species, we already sabotaged ourselves long time before this question or its subject got invented. It seems we have a constant urge to play with tricks and riddles until the lie becomes so big, that it goes out of hand and the bubble explodes by showing the original futility. We are now – by the known history – thousand of years away of the original meaning of the “art”. Once the importance of value got above any other characteristic which define the quality of “art”, then it becomes something else, a product with a fancy label. They can say the human is still the artist, as the human created the AI, so in the end the result is of course “art”. For me is obviously that everything has to do with the evolution of society, economy and the concept of money, concept of survival, concept of employee, concept of “stay at home, get 1K euro to pay the bills and do nothing”. Is another society waiting for us right after the corner and on all fields things need to be introduced in steps. Human mind loves patters, so if you want to have obedience, you need to insert changes slowly. What “art” was considered in between the world wars was something pretty different that what art is considered in 2024. Digital art, is “art” … so if I follow the path designed already by the history of art, then yes, most probably the AI outputs will be also considered “art”. It is just a different extent of “craftsman”, as the heartless son of the craftsman is doing the craft in this case. Then we, the spectators of this show, we shall expect this almighty “craftsman” to have a secret plan and start more evolved crafts, which are high beyond the output capacities of the AI. But if the AI has access to all this new data of the more evolved crafts, then and oh boy, we have a big problem with the value, and then we are all fucked, including the geniuses. (laughs) Art is a manifestation of a specific type of life energy and will, which from the results I see so far, was not yet mapped, captured, observed and militarized, so it can be incorporated yet into the AI.

Costin Chioreanu - Photo by Olivia Chioreanu 2024
Costin Chioreanu 2024; © Olivia Chioreanu

On the other hand, in your view, is every „handmade“ cover automatically art? There is a lot of generic material out there, or bands often use images from artist portfolios, i.e. images that also have no deeper meaning in the album context…
No. The internet, the book stores, the museums and the art galleries are already full of tons of handmade shit, not to say about the infinity of crap you can find online or on album covers. So yes, it’s full of crap out there, even very big and appreciated and considered “wow” things. If so much crap is considered art, why the AI is not art? No, really … You know, for you, as an artist, there will always be your people, people which are out there and who will dig your work, sooner or later. No matter if is shit, or brilliant. As many people, as many opinions. You cannot impose a perceptional communism over how people appreciate art. So there will always be chaos! And people with interest.

The first AI covers in metal are now here – for example from Pestilence, Deicide or Hour Of Penance. From an objective point of view: What do you think of the images you’ve seen so far?
When I saw these, my first reaction was, “Why?” But I am trying to educate myself to go out of the judgmental sick system which this society trained us. Going on this path I can say that is no crime if the musicians are not considering their covers the way I do, and the importance which they gave to this side of their work is not going on the direction I feel right. Every human has a different system of values. We are all different, and that’s their liberty to do what they want and what it is fulfilling them. From a simple rational perspective, if the money were really an issue, they could make an online contest, and I am sure many artists would be just happy to create the cover and receive back instead of money a nice pack of a CD, merch and vinyl singled from the band for all that. This way the social media of the bands would do good, fans excited, artist promoted as well etc. But maybe they really liked those nasty things? I will never judge anyone taste in anything, so maybe they just give it a try while drink a beer and have fun in the studio, they found the result pretty cool and that was it. There are not the worst album covers I saw either, so why not this to be the reality and that’s it?

Many bands who have experimented with AI have received a real shitstorm on the internet. To be honest, I didn’t expect the layout to be so important to so many people in the age of streaming. That’s also somehow a compliment to the artists in the scene. Do you feel honored by it, or are you more repulsed by the fact that the fans here want to „dictate“ to the bands how they should visualize their art?
That shows two things. How stressed people are about AI stealing their jobs and second – how stressed and unhappy people are in general, by their own stuff. Of course for me this shit storm is convenient, and I cannot be hypocrite, and I would thank to all these unhappy people for taking a stand as the result is fabulous. But if I do not want to be a hypocrite on all the sides, I cannot close my eyes and stop to that point either. But in the end, we are all under the flag of capitalism, so we are all the sum of our own choices. If the band’s life depends on the fans, then you need to please your fans, no matter how philosophically we are rambling around the subject.

More exciting, however, are probably the images where you can’t see it at all – because the AI was only used for details, for example, or because it is so good (in the future) that it will no longer be distinguishable from non-AI images. To what extent will this affect the business (music/album covers)? Who will have disadvantages, who will have advantages?
I think the future of the websites selling stock photos and “art” might be in danger until the point they start to monetize the AI. In the rest, as we talk about a “business”, labels probably will go for what will take lower the production prices but still leave the overall impression of the „kvlt“ being respected and continued… while independent artist will go for both budget AI and more expensive “real art”. I think will be space for everyone.

One of the criticisms of AI art from some artists is that the AI has been trained with images from the internet – in other words, with your work. On the other hand, it’s not much different with humans, who are also inspired by their role models, and often (unconsciously) much more clearly than an AI that has learned from billions of images. What is your opinion here?
Exactly, man created AI in his own image. And yes, it is constantly producing outputs based on the human work gathered from the almighty web. It is not here to create any art. It was created by people with other interest. If you want to stop it, then not the sky is the limit, but the mind. Ah, yeah, it knows how to read the mind as well now. Not on these platforms, but coming soon everywhere.

On the other hand, AI can also write „in the style of“ someone, or even paint, if the data set is large enough. Are you afraid that one day you’ll see a „Costin Chioreanu cover“ that wasn’t penned by you?
That would be the most hilarious, pointless, and most futile thing ever to show to my eyes. A Costin Chioreanu art which cost you only 5% of your internet bill, 5% of your monthly electricity bill plus several hours of your life. Good math! Sounds like a pretty big effort to gain absolutely nothing, in my opinion. But of course, in your opinion, it might be the coolest thing ever.

AI is here now, and I’m sure it won’t go away, whether we as individuals like it or not. What do you think is important when dealing with AI, what would be your appeal to musicians, artists or consumers?
If AI makes your inner self happy, by any means, go and have millions of orgasms by using it, in no matter which form. Otherwise, don’t lose your time by doing something which you don’t feel good or right, just because others are doing it. I did that mistake for a long period of my life when I was stressing myself to be normal. I realized that I am not normal, and I should praise that this not to let it be a factor of stress, just because other says so. You are the master of your reality. So, if you play with your real tools, you will never gonna use AI anyway! (laughs)

MetAI – Künstliche Intelligenz im Metal

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