Some reasults are pretty cool, but still this fucking devalues the artist. the human spirit imagines these artworks and creates it by hand and the machine just eats it.
I imagine they said the same thing when photography was invented.
Like others are saying, this is just another tool, like photographs or 3D modeling or Photoshop. Both fine artists and commercial illustrators have always taken advantages of tricks and shortcuts to make things easier for themselves (including things like standard templates that could be individually customized, assistants drawing in the easy bits, camera obscura and mirror tricks, and more recently photo reference and collage/xerography).
Perhaps with this some art jobs will go away, like some work in layout/design and typesetting went away when people could easily do it themselves digitally. But it's not like the world is lacking for designers or typographers! Artists will adapt.
It seems that what the program does is look for similar textures and forms in both pictures and then apply them from one to the other in progressive layers. In the portrait of the guy's face you can clearly see the folds from the woman's dress and the tablecloth being re-used in several places on his face.
So yeah: it is a very, very sophisticated graphics filter, but it's quite a stretch from that to worrying that "art" is being created by machines.
For example: In the first pictures Snarky posted: When I look at the actual painting of the street scene I get a true feeling of how the artist felt about this view and the particular and individual beauty of the elements that they thought were worth capturing and accentuating on their canvas. But...when I look at the computer generated scene which has borrowed this artist's vision out of context I just see a technically well-painted picture by a person talented in copying a real artist's physical techniques of brushstrokes etc, but completely without any particular elements that drawn my eye here and there and make me understand why the artist wanted to paint this picture.
Artistically, it's just a confusing mess.
Well, but partly that's because this is still early days, and partly it's just the deficiency of a not-very-interesting photo combined with a not-quite-suitable technique.
It doesn't seem at all hard to imagine that neural networks such as this could learn to identify and match features in the style and subject images more intelligently, so that you don't get a face made out of tablecloth (although that's an interesting effect in itself), but painted in the same style as specifically the faces in the source image. Something like what they did half-manually in the Rembrandt example. It could also quite conceivably measure depicted proportions and other features of the art, and compare to a database of photos to identify characteristic distortions (e.g. to understand how van Gogh depicted skin tones, or how Picasso abstracted, distorted and rearranged anatomy). And you could imagine an interactive version, where you could mark bits that don't work and have the computer come up with another attempt.
Then by choosing/composing a good subject image, and by selecting a good source style image (or set of images, perhaps), and by doing a bit of cleanup, I don't see why you couldn't create something that looks perfectly convincing, and potentially just as good as the source images. (Depending on how artistically brilliant they were in the first place, and your own artistic talent.)
There will still be human involvement, but it'll be a lot less work. And I think it does make a difference if someone could, from a good portrait photo and a database of paintings, with maybe half an hour's work, create a work that – if not as brilliant as a Vermeer or a Rembrandt – is almost indistinguishable from and the equal to a good classic portrait.
Of course, when anything is possible with the click of a button, deciding what
to do is where the talent and skill comes in. Much like a camera can at the click of a button create a picture of anything in the real world, but it's still not at all trivial to shoot a good
picture. Or like how movies nowadays can digitally tweak pretty much every aspect of a shot, but some still look much better than others.
Anyone can use the "charcoal sketch" filter to change a photo into what looks like something drawn by hand, but you won't see it hanging in a gallery next to pictures that actually were drawn by hand with charcoal, because "art" is not about how good the final product looks, it's about how a human being applied their talents to create something from a vision that started in their head, and recreated that image as a tangible object in physical reality.
I'm not sure that's true. The reason you don't hang those Photoshop-filtered images in galleries is that they're not as good (and to a certain extent that it's not in fashion). It is
the final product that matters. In principle there's no reason why you couldn't hang a work like that in a gallery (and in fact there already are many gallery artworks that have been created digitally, including using semi-automatic and randomized processes). The process is pretty irrelevant, apart from how it shapes the final work.
This is why photos will never make portraits obselete.
To a great extent they already have. Portrait painting used to be a huge industry. But nowadays how many people get their portrait painted, not counting sidewalk caricatures? There is still a market for it, but it's orders of magnitude smaller than it was.