We're all figuring this out together. It's fun, right?
What text-to-image generates is without a camera at the production stage, so it's more of a '-gram' (the difference between a photogrraph and a photogram is whether a camera is used'. But as text-to-image doesn't involve light either, it'd help to drop the prefix 'photo-'.
Yup; we much need a new word, and with that will come a lot less confusion.
Some writers have suggested 'synthography' but I think that leaves too much room for confusion. I'd prefer 'synthogram'. The way a text-to-image image is generated is closer to writing: building up more and more detail, than to a capture process that captures at full resolution (whether line-by-line or whole frame).
Then the question is: Is a synthogram a photograph? No; it's not.
Does it look like a photograph? Yes.
Listen: a photograph can be captured to look like a watercolour, but have captured a watercolour. No; we haven't. A fortiori if we turn a photograph into a charcoal drawing-like image, it's not a charcoal drawing.
So, a synthogram is made with the help of photos. But a billion photo data-pairs does not a photo make.
You might like to subscribe to my substack Dark2Light for further thoughts. I've just written what I was going to write for my notes. Time to skip over there!
(Thanks for your work on this whole area, which reminds me of the fun we had over 20 years ago when digital was a dirty word in photography.)
I would recommend taking a look at the work of Dubhz0 who’s been doing this in my opinion in the right way. Somberly, respectfully and at the same time quite uniquely dubhz0.com
I’ve recently asked my rabbi what is his opinion on greediness and corruption in contemporary photography. It took a while before answering me. First he consulted a few of his holy books, then he looked at me for a long time, as if wondering if I was a serious man. Then he opened his desk drawer, took out a bottle, poured himself a full glass, drunk it, squinted his eyes, looked at me again, and finally said: « Young man, I have a short answer and a long answer. As it is quite late, I will give the short one. Contemporary photography - and I suppose you’re a photographer or you pretend to be one if you’re interested on this subject - is a medium that is often celebrated for its ability to capture the beauty and complexity of the world around us. However, like any other industry, it is not immune to the problems of greediness and corruption. In recent years, there have been growing concerns about the impact of these issues on the integrity of the photography industry. Greediness in contemporary photography can manifest in several ways. One of the most notable is the tendency among some photographers to prioritize profits over artistic merit. In the age of social media, many photographers are under pressure to produce work that will generate likes, shares, and followers, rather than works that have genuine artistic value. This can lead to a focus on gimmicks and trends rather than on originality and creativity. Another form of greediness is the practice of inflating prices. Some photographers and galleries may artificially raise the prices of their works in order to create the impression that they are more valuable than they actually are. This can lead to a market that is driven by hype and speculation, rather than by genuine artistic merit. The result is a situation where photographers may be rewarded for their ability to manipulate the market, rather than for their skill and talent. Corruption in contemporary photography is also a growing concern. This can take several forms, including the practice of selling fake or forged works of art. Like any other industry, photography has its share of unscrupulous individuals who are willing to deceive buyers in order to make a profit. This can involve everything from selling photographs that have been digitally manipulated to passing off works by other photographers as their own. Not to mention the rise of artificial intelligence applications that allow for the creation of images without human intervention. While this development has undoubtedly opened up new possibilities for creativity and artistic expression, for instance second-hand and conceptual photography, it has also brought with it the potential for greediness and corruption. As with any new technology, the rise of AI in photography has created a new gold rush mentality, with many photographers and companies rushing to stake their claim and grab as much market share as possible. This has led to a situation where the pursuit of profit and fame has become more important than the pursuit of artistic excellence and integrity. Of course, not all photographers who use AI applications are guilty of greediness or corruption, and I hope you’re not one of them. Are you? Anyway, another form of corruption in contemporary photography is the practice of using insider connections to gain an advantage over other photographers. This can involve everything from leveraging personal relationships to securing advantageous exhibition or publication opportunities. While this type of behavior may not necessarily be illegal, it can undermine the integrity of the industry and make it difficult for emerging photographers to gain a foothold. In conclusion, my son, greediness and corruption are growing problems in contemporary photography. These issues can lead to a situation where artistic merit is overshadowed by profits, and where unethical behavior is rewarded. It is important for photographers, galleries, and collectors to recognize the importance of maintaining ethical standards and promoting genuine artistic merit in order to preserve the integrity of the industry for future generations. By doing so, we can ensure that photography remains a medium that celebrates beauty, creativity, and the richness of the world around us! So help us the Creator, blessed be His name. Go home now, I’m tired. For my long answer, come tomorrow. »
Synthograms, that's what we're producing when using text-to-image image generation to make images of any kind – from line drawings to pixellated to Studio Ghibli style to 'photo-realistic'.
Any new word is going to feel uncomfortable. I've had good feedback for 'synthogram'.
So, 'syntho' is the synthesis bit: TTIG syntheses a whole from many parts. 'gram' is a suffix that means '"that which is written or marked," from Greek gramma "that which is drawn; a picture, a drawing" (etymonline.com) as in hologram, cardiogram, diagram, telegram, mammogram.
So a synthogram is a picture/drawing/image written from the bringing together/synthesis of different elements.
And that's a part answer to how it's different from CGI as that is constructed out of primitives (nets, splines, rays etc.) that are defined, then assembled by the CGI designer. TTIG builds up by using elements of images checking with each iteration how well the generated image matches the text prompt. I think that's fundamentally different from CGI construction.
There are parallels of course, and a lot of AI is used to make special effects. TTIG is only a part – in the scheme of things a small part – of AI applications.
There's been a lot of commentary comparing the advent of AI to when Photoshop came out or NFTs or other forms of change in photo technology. AI, in my opinion, is very different. It's more like the advent of the Internet. That much change is possible...and that's in many fields from medicine to manufacturing where the stake is much greater than people running around taking pictures. People may lose their jobs but get better medical care. AI has been unleashed without thinking through the consequences and without fully understanding how the thing works according to some technologists.
I would suggest that we consider these text based are illustrations
Thanks, Andy! 'image' = 'Imagine', I guess...
I honestly don't understand why we are questioning whether AI is photography or trying to cram it into the same category, rather than letting it be its own thing or medium. It literally isn't photography.
Yes, we can apply filters, color correction, saturation, cropping, etc. to photos. But those are still captures of real things. Manipulated or collaged photos are often put into different categories. Why is AI different? As another quote stated, AI can't photograph your wedding or your hometown. Because again, it literally isn't photography. It's even in the name. Artificial Intelligence. It's all a recreation.
Is it a novelty that is fun to talk about? You bet. But like every novelty, there are aspects of it that are getting boring at a furious rate.
Hi Jeff. I’ve really been enjoying this conversation. I just did a post on why we need a term to replace photography… https://davidyoungart.substack.com/p/what-is-photography
Photography social media was invaded since the beginnings by fast photo food consumers and sellers: avid “lomographers”, photo street gurus or nomadic workshoppers
That video is perfect. (I love what people have done with that scene over the years.)
My favorite quote here is from Mr. Skeggs: This is the opposite of AI images, which capture what you think.
This remains a very complicated topic with no right or wrong, just lots of shades of grey. And we all have to decide which part of the grey we live in.