Scottish artist paints over work in AI protest

A Scottish artist has painted over some of his artwork in protest against what he says are negative impacts of Artificial intelligence (AI) on Art.

Black Isle-based Pop artist Michael Forbes' fans include singer Madonna, Monty Python's Terry Gilliam and comedian Ricky Gervais.

He said AI was saturating the internet with images, and also harvesting artists' work to create new pictures without any acknowledgement of the source material.

Forbes, who has "redacted" parts of four paintings so far, said: "Underneath the black paint is hours of work I'm proud of - in some respects I am absolutely heartbroken."

The four paintings include one of The Beatles' John Lennon and another featuring US singer Taylor Swift.

Forbes said he admired Swift because of her battles over ownership of her music.

Weeks of work has been painted over in black paint.

Forbes said he was driven to make the protest after a fellow artist said she had stopped sharing her art on social media because of problems with AI.

He said other artists were giving up their careers because they felt they could no longer compete against computer-generated images.

"I am aware that what I have done is small potatoes," said Forbes.

"It is going to have minimal, if no, effect whatsoever other than a cathartic feeling I am being proactive and trying to do something about it."

He added: "I don't want to be an artist so I can paint the best pictures I can and then paint them over in black paint.

"I'm gutted I've been reduced to this."

Forbes said he had embraced the internet since its early days and it had allowed him to reach galleries around the world.

But he said he was now only sharing parts of paintings on social media, and inviting people to see the full finished pieces in-person at exhibitions.

Dingwall-born Forbes was an apprentice of the late Pop artist and acclaimed sculptor Gerald Laing, who was a close friend of artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein,

Newcastle-upon-Tyne-born Laing set up a family home in Kinkell Castle on the Black Isle, not far from where Forbes grew up.

Forbes' work has referenced women's rights campaigns and featured "mash ups" of glamorous Hollywood icons.

US presidents such as Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln have appeared in some of his paintings.

He also creates posters and other artwork for the Belladrum music festival near Inverness.

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