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‘Sky to a Machine’: La Jolla exhibit explores how artificial intelligence can enhance art

"Sky to a Machine" by Adrian Huth is included in the show of the same name at BFree Studio in La Jolla.
(BFree Studio)
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Hoping to show that artificial intelligence doesn’t hamper artistry, San Diego painter Adrian Huth has opened a new exhibit in La Jolla.

“Sky to a Machine” is on view at BFree Studio through Saturday, March 18. The gallery will host a reception at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4, and an artist talk at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 5. All events are free.

For the record:

5:34 p.m. Feb. 28, 2023This article was updated to correct the closing date of the “Sky to a Machine” show.

With the show, which includes 10 oil and acrylic paintings generated with the help of an AI tool using keywords such as “sky to a machine,” “robot riot protests” and “walls Mexico border,” Huth examines AI as a tool for artistic expression.

“I come from a web marketing background and I’ve been using AI for years now,” Huth said.

He said the increasing public availability of AI tools in the past couple of years aids his creative process.

“As a painter, one thing I always do before I start a painting is I think of a concept and then I research that concept and create a composition,” Huth said.

He’s done that in the past through Google image searches and Photoshop manipulation of images.

He then began experimenting with AI tools, typing in the concepts he imagined.

The results were “originally … primitive,” Huth said. But he gradually learned how to make them more sophisticated until he saw designs he was pleased with.

AI then “became a tool replacement for how I originally was sourcing compositions before I went into the studio to paint,” he said.

He uses the Stable Diffusion website and the Midjourney bot through Discord.

The pieces Huth ends up with are the results of that “communication between myself and this AI tool,” he said. “You can’t really peel back one layer and say, ‘That is AI and that is Adrian the human.’”

“I’m finding a lot of value in this and how it’s helping my creativity.”

— Painter Adrian Huth

Huth said he’s found that using AI enhances his creativity. “I can work quicker than when I was doing it manually, searching for the right image and then manipulating it,” he said.

He emphasized that he’s still “fully in control” of his art. He enters text prompts and rejects certain results or modifies the text to achieve something different.

“I’m making all the decisions,” he said.

Adrian Huth uses AI to enhance his paintings, like in this one titled "Need a New Body."
(BFree Studio)

With the BFree exhibit, Huth said he wants “to show the community in San Diego maybe a different perspective on the whole AI debate.”

“There’s been such a panic about AI” on social media, he said, with some artists voicing concerns that AI threatens their originality and copyrights.

“This is so odd because I’m finding a lot of value in this and how it’s helping my creativity,” he said.

Huth, who still works in marketing but has been painting since he moved to San Diego in 1997, said he wants to reduce the fear that “it’s going to somehow dehumanize creativity.”

He wants those who visit his show to see how AI can enhance creativity or job function “or whatever the case may be in your own life,” he said.

BFree Studio is at 7857 Girard Ave. For more information, visit bfreestudio.net.