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The AI-Art Gold Rush Is Here

Accepted submission by takyon at 2019-03-14 16:03:46
/dev/random

+software
+techonomics

The AI-Art Gold Rush Is Here [theatlantic.com]

The images are huge and square and harrowing: a form, reminiscent of a face, engulfed in fiery red-and-yellow currents; a head emerging from a cape collared with glitchy feathers, from which a shape suggestive of a hand protrudes; a heap of gold and scarlet mottles, convincing as fabric, propping up a face with grievous, angular features. These are part of "Faceless Portraits Transcending Time [strikinglycdn.com]," an exhibition of prints recently shown at the HG Contemporary gallery in Chelsea, the epicenter of New York's contemporary-art world. All of them were created by a computer.

The catalog calls the show a "collaboration between an artificial intelligence named AICAN and its creator, Dr. Ahmed Elgammal," a move meant to spotlight, and anthropomorphize, the machine-learning algorithm that did most of the work. According to HG Contemporary, it's the first solo gallery exhibit devoted to an AI artist.

[...] The AI-art gold rush began in earnest last October, when the New York auction house Christie's sold [christies.com] Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, an algorithm-generated print in the style of 19th-century European portraiture, for $432,500.

Bystanders in and out of the art world were shocked [nytimes.com]. The print had never been shown in galleries or exhibitions before coming to market at auction, a channel usually reserved for established work. The winning bid was made anonymously by telephone, raising some eyebrows; art auctions can invite price manipulation [cnn.com]. It was created by a computer program that generates new images based on patterns in a body of existing work, whose features the AI "learns." What's more, the artists who trained and generated the work, the French collective Obvious, hadn't even written the algorithm or the training set. They just downloaded them, made some tweaks, and sent the results to market.


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