Embracing the Black Mirror: The Dawn of Photographic AI

Do we fear artificial intelligence because we fear losing control? As photographic AI grows, many photographers view them as threats, perhaps one day making their craft obsolete. But has artistic expression ever been about control? Our creative impulses have always been more about discovery of self and world. As with any art, meaningful AI artwork could reveal truth and understanding about the human condition.

Rather than resisting, photographer Noah Pharrel embraces these tools as new creative mediums. She has learned to intuitively collaborate with AI image generators. A craft in itself. Her cinematic, imaginative composites fuse classical training with leading-edge image synthesis—allowing her to expand the boundaries of her personal vision. The capabilities are limitless. While that notion can be scary it’s also wildly liberating.

Noah explains, “AI is no different than any other artistic medium. Oil paints didn't replace watercolours. Digital photography didn't end film. They simply gave more options for us to explore as artists.” She adds, “If photography is about capturing light, AI is an unprecedented tool for sculpting worlds from light.”

Behind every stunning AI composition are still human design choices - emotional sensitivity, aesthetic sensibilities, and technical craft. "We of course also have a responsibility to ethics. But it shouldn't be any different to any other industry or job."

Perhaps we are looking at AI the wrong way. What if it was helping us better understand and appreciate the human experience and the present moment – something AI can never replace? These tools don't diminish our humanity, they simply reflect it back to us like a black mirror.

As so many spiritual traditions suggest, if life really is just an illusion, perhaps AI is yet another reminder of that illusion. It is within us to appreciate the real and tangible even more. If artificial intelligence is the child of human ingenuity, then like any creation it is a reflection of its creator. We should not fear our reflection, but embrace it as an opportunity to better know ourselves. And in that knowledge, rediscover the beauty of being human.

After all, what if I told you that AI helped me write this piece, would it make the perspectives shared any less accurate or meaningful?

Words by: Nicole Albarelli

Image by Noah Pharrell