In the second part of this piece, we will consider the rise of AI-generated art from a more subjective point of view, focusing on its ethical and societal implications. In the first part found here, we went over why AI models do not store and reproduce exact copies of the artworks they have been trained on.
Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.
If you have any involvement with the furry fandom – and if you're reading this, you probably do – you will have seen a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the past few weeks/months, particularly about AI-generated art. What you'll also have seen is that most of this talk has been characterised by fear and anger. Several furry websites and organisations, such as Inkbunny, Fur Affinity and the Furry Writers' Guild, have all issued statements or updated their policies to ban AI-generated content or aspects thereof.
As a largely artistic community and given that AI-generated content threatens the status quo, this is completely understandable. The objections to AI art have been numerous; some rely on nebulous and abstract concepts such as AI art being emotionless, some consider it unfair to artists who have put effort into learning their skills and others have chosen to focus on the economic aspects of competing against AI. Anti-AI sentiment has grown in the art community and spilled off of the internet in the form of legal challenges against several companies involved in providing AI art services.
It would be out of scope of this text to address every single argument for or against AI. Instead, I would like to focus on two aspects of the debate; one which is objective and one which is subjective. The first, objective, aspect is what AI is and how it works. This is important because it's difficult to have a proper discussion about the technology when it is misunderstood – and I think that most discussion around AI fundamentally misunderstands how it works. The second, subjective, aspect involves copyright and the ethics of training AI. This is a question about the sort of world in which we wish to live and how we should treat one another. I feel that these two questions are the most important ones for deciding how AI will fit into our world. Hopefully, I can correct some misconceptions about how AI works and put forward a view of the world which others will find appealing as well.
Due to the length of this article, it has been split in two. The second part will address the social and ethical aspects of AI-generated art.
Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.
While 2021 was a pretty crappy year overall, for anthro gaming titles it was certainly a renaissance. It also did an excellent job curb stomping my 2018 statements that visual novels seem to be the genre of choice for anthro game developers. In 2021 we had a Metroid-vania mixed with a brawler in Ursa Nominated FIST. We had an isometric top-down combat adventure in Ursa Nominated Death’s Door. Now we have a game that is a narrative and art focused 2D grid exploration and creativity game in Chircoy: A Colorful Tale. Unfortunately this one didn’t get a nomination, because I would not have complained if it did.
This game is interestingly one I would recommend to furries who are artists more than gamers. While it doesn’t require being an artist by any means, and traditional gamers would be able to complete the story just fine, the narrative has more reflection on the power of being a creative type and the stress of societal expectations that comes with artistic pursuits. Imposter syndrome, having people demand things from you for exposure, and other such tropes in the artist world are addressed through your character’s trials.
There is a full world to explore and color to your heart’s content and it's more about the journey than the conflict. But there is no art without some struggle. While your character named after your favorite dish may have started their adventure wanting to wield the magic brush of this world, heavy is the hand who wields.
To avoid spoilers stop reading at Art within the Art
Not since the 1980s have anthropomorphic animals and the Olympics come together more than in the news out of Australia in the past few weeks. As the Summer Olympics get ready to begin after a year's delay due to the global pandemic, one artist has brought some furry thunder for the teams Down Under.
One of the regrets I had on submitting this ranked list of every furry cosmetic "outfit" available in the popular video game Fortnite Battle Royale is that it didn't list any furry Creator Codes, mostly because I was unaware of any at the time. Also I regret that the list left out King Flamingo, but that's not important.
A Creator Code allows for players purchasing skins and various other cosmetic accouterments to have a portion of their purchase go to a "content creator", usually streamers or YouTube video makers, on the basic idea that whatever content is being created is free advertising for the game. Surely there was a furry streamer of Fortnite out there, somewhere, with a Creator Code?
Nearly five months later, I have stumbled upon a furry with a Creator Code while on e621, of all places. Felino (~Feline-gamer on FurAffinity), a Brazilian furry, has a Creator Code, FelinoJ. Surprisingly, the recognition seems to be for his furry fan-art of various characters from the game, of which is oftentimes very furry.
So, furry Fortnite players, next time you see an item you deem worthy of purchase, consider putting FelinoJ in the Creator Code box. If you're not into Fortnite, but do have an Epic Games Store account, Creator Codes work there, too. Alternatively, if you're not into supporting mega-corporations while supporting furries, Felino also has a Patreon and a Ko-fi.
A furry fan drew an inflated skunk embroidered with the emblem for the Industrial Workers of the World union squishing a hamster in a top hat with the caption of “squash the boss”. Such a piece is not anything too unusual. The oddity that caught the eye of the Daily Dot was that the union itself posted the piece to their Facebook page.
Soon thereafter, the IWW's Twitter account joined in. Though, for some reason, they quietly back out later, as the original Tweet referenced in the Daily Dot article appears to be deleted. (Its text remains in the article despite this – a feature of the standard embedding code for other sites. Tweeters, be wary of this.)
But has furry reached a point where we need to squash the boss and organize? Or are unions barking up the wrong tree? The answer, like the fandom, may be complex.
The winners of the 2019 Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards have been announced! There are too many wonderful pieces to show here, so if you have the time, check out the complete list in their Google doc. (Some mild NSFW content.)
The other two finalists were "Wildflower" by Neonhorns, and "Adventure awaits!" by Hitmore. There were four runners-up to this category, and over twenty contenders on top of those! A special merit award was given to "Courage on Two Wheels", in honor of Dogbomb.
When it comes to furry artwork, I love to see creativity in detail, mood, backgrounds, world-building and species. I don't follow specific artists, and the high-quality stuff is scattered all over the place, so most of the time I rely on stumbling across artwork I like by accident. Or I find an artist on Fur Affinity who's very good, look at their favorites, and explore sideways. So it's a nice surprise at this time of year to be reminded of the Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards, which gives me a fresh starting-point from which to discover new works!
In just a few short weeks we'll be announcing this year's Runner-ups, Finalists, and Winners of the 2019 Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards!
We still have a few more contenders to announce before the year is over.
What was -your- favorite anthro art piece of 2019?
The 2000s were not an easy time for those who were furry or gay. The mainstream media was still hyper-focused on the sexual aspects of fandom expression in a freak-show style of coverage, instead of the overall complexity of the community. The ability to marry individuals of the same sex was still not federally recognized in the United States and wouldn’t be until the early 2010s. It was in that era that one furry artist named Rukus took their own life at the end of 2008.
Now, just over a decade later, someone who knew this artist on a personal level has finished a documentary covering the life of their lost friend and their interlude with fandom. That director, Brett Hanover, contacted me and gave me the opportunity to view a screening of the film.
The show releases on Vimeo and their own website today and can be viewed there. You can choose to watch before I go over the details and review below. Though the review may help understand some of the nuances of the film.
A free to view documentary series, edited by Eric Risher and directed by Ash Kreis, was released on Kreis's Youtube channel AshCoyote. Her channel covers nonfiction topics of the furry fandom, while also doing streams of games of furry interest. Funnily since that’s the same kind of content my own channel covers it may seem strange that I’d want to promote their work, however in the non-fiction business it is important to encourage more sharing of information than less. Plus her production value is much higher.
Today we’re going to go over these seven videos. If you like these, then it you should consider throwing a few dollars toward their GoFundMe campaign to produce a full length picture about the fandom they plan on doing. It has 13 days left and is all or nothing, so they have to hit at least $20,000 to get any funding from the campaign. As of writing they don't have much more to go to reach that goal with over $18,000 raised at time of publication.
The results are in for the 2018 Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards! I'm going to summarize the results below, but if you want the complete version with thumbnails of all the artwork, take a look at the official announcement posted to Google Docs.
Almost all the links go to FurAffinity pages, and they should open in new windows.
I found out about the Best Anthropomorphic Artwork Awards only yesterday (Dec. 26th), and I wish I'd known about them sooner!
They're a labor of love to the fandom by Bahu, and I'm not even going to try guessing how many artists he must follow on an annual basis to narrow down 29,000 pieces of art to 875 contenders (3%), then working those numbers down even further. And that's not counting the People's Choice Award, which you can vote on before January 1st if you act quickly!
Tumblr has said that all adult, NSFW work will need to be off the site by December 17th, 2018. Any post that is deemed to be adult content will be switched automatically to private mode and not viewable by the public according to an article by the Verge.
As the website is using an algorithm based solution on determining which content is to be cleaned up, the decision has not only impacted those who post adult works, but also clean artists as well. It has been comedically noted that even Garfield pictures are not safe from the computer’s judgement. Reports from several furs that do no sexual content on the platform have indicated their own works being content flagged, leaving some to suspect that the tag of furry is seen as unclean by default.
With this uncertainty, a mass emigration is underway for artists who used the platform as their mainstay. Many furry sites have been trying to lure in new content creators looking for a new home. Inkbunny, for instance, did a full on parody of the Tumblr announcement. Furry Network asks in light of the situation how they can best serve those affected. Weasyl also chimed in, but also with the reminder that they’re trying for more than just the furry market. At this time, SoFurry and FurAffinity have not commented on the situation. Furry sites are not alone wishing to get on this action, with the most strangest instance being PornHub reaching out to inform those leaving Tumblr that their site takes adult art as well.
I'm sorry to report that Vicky Wyman passed away on August 3, 2018. According to a post by Defenbaugh on Fur Affinity, she'd recently found out that she had a very bad case of intestinal cancer. After an attempted surgery failed to improve her prospects, she made the choice to let go. She was in her 60s.
I'm not really qualified to write an obituary about Vicky Wyman, so if there are details and memories you'd like to share, please post a comment! I can update this article as necessary. What follows is some history with personal reflections.
Fans of furry web comics mourned at news of the passing of Albert Temple arrived this month. This prolific creator maintained a consistently-updated web comic for over 16 years, from July 2000 all the way up to his death in March. This web serial comic, Gene Catlow, delved into the lives of a pair of experienced and respected computer technicians and their many strange adventures.
The two main characters were Gene Catalow (the author's fursona) and his rabbit friend Cotton. The first story arc revolved around Cotton finding a special coffee that unlocked superpowers within him. He's torn away from his normal life as a technician to begin thwarting assassination attempts against an ambassador being held in safe harbor in their anthropomorphic city.
Through the interactions of these characters you learn of a world of political intrigue, where human beings and anthro animals had their own cultural boundaries. Albert did a great job in making it so that you were never fed this in exposition dumps, but instead were purely arrived at through the interaction of the comic's characters.