The Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting (CAIR) is a first-of-its-kind initiative that generates meaningful collaboration between journalists and artists in order to ensure powerful public interest stories have more impact and greater emotional resonance. Together with Jake Charles Rees, I co-founded the organization.
CAIR works in a variety of different ways:
EDUCATION: We teach art students seeking to produce work that reaches out from beyond museums and galleries the tools and tactics of an investigative practice, as well as help to familiarize themselves with the language and codes of the journalism field.
PUBLICATION SUPPORT: As journalism continues its radical metamorphosis, we connect legacy and digital newsrooms to artists with distinctive viewpoints on world events and urgent social issues to help foster the creation of more imaginative storytelling. Artists with confirmed collaborations with news organizations can also apply for production support for their work. In addition to fiscal resources, they will also receive guidance on process and deliverables from the AIR team.
INSTITUTIONS: Museums are on the forefront of environmental, political and social justice issues and yet outside of their in-person attendance, most of their ideas stay within the milieu of the art-going population. We work with major art, cultural and non-profit institutions to incorporate their programming into mainstream news to reach as wide an audience as possible.
For more information on how your organization can work with the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
With artist Molly Crabapple, the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting made public an Open Letter asking publishers to restrict their use of AI illustration.
Since the earliest days of print journalism, illustration has been used to elucidate and add perspective to stories. And even today, the illustrator’s art still speaks to something not just intimately connected to the news, but intrinsically human about the story itself.
With the advent of generative-image AI technology, that unique interpretive and narrative confluence of art and text, of human writer and human illustrator, is at risk of extinction. This is why today, May 2, 2023, Crabapple and the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting have released a letter calling on artists, publishers, journalists, editors, and journalism union leaders to take a pledge for human values against the use of generative-AI images to replace human-made art.
“AI art corporations are poised to destroy illustrators’ livelihoods—and they’re using illustrators’ own stolen images to do it,” said Molly Crabapple. “This is a mass act of corporate theft.”
“This letter is an effort to shape a critical debate about the future of our newsrooms,” said Mazria Katz, Executive Director of the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting. “There is a narrative that this technology is impossible to stop. This is not true. We have a choice whether or not to use these products.”
“In a news environment, even with the best of intentions—AI image generators will mischaracterize events,” said Jake Charles Rees, Executive Producer of the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting. “These systems lack critical thought and cultural knowledge and are unable to adequately portray the complexities of reality. It’s time for editors and art directors to rule out their use, and stand by illustrators.”
Current signers to the Open Letter include Naomi Klein, V (formerly Eve Ensler) author of the Vagina Monologues, Jessica Bruder author of Nomadland, Chris Hayes, Nermeen Shaikh (co-host, Democracy Now!), journalist Rula Jebreal, writer and columnist Spencer Ackerman, and more.
The letter is now open to the public and those with a vested interest in the future of illustration in the news can sign it here.
This was the first piece CAIR put together. It came out of our RISD course Artists Report from 2022. The artist Alina Spatz created the visuals for this work and then teamed up with The Nation to produce this incredible investigation.
In January we started a new project “Investigating Climate Change” with the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Investigate Europe and Supra Systems Studio based at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Over a semester we will be working with students from several departments to help them develop their own artistic investigations into climate change.
We have also curated a cohort of lecturers to teach alongside us, such as investigative journalist and host of the true crime climate podcast “Drilled,” Amy Westervelt, reporters, producers and visual investigators Sanjana Varghese and Julia Neuno from Airwars, investigative reporter and author Crofton Black, as well as the writer, designer and investigator Ingrid Burrington.
At the end of the project the students will display their works in a series of exhibitions. Stay tuned for more details!