Art by Algorithm

Art by Algorithm

The 21st century Art Revolution is AI-based

In October 2018, an eclectic piece of art entitled the Portrait of Edmond de Belamy was sold by New York auction house, Christie’s, for a shade under half a million dollars. This of course still stands as the highest value ever garnered by generative art – art not created entirely by a human. The artwork, generated in the style of a 19th century European portrait, was sold a month after India too had experienced its first-ever post human AI-art exhibition – titled “Gradient Descent”.

Ever since Google’s creation of Deep Dream in 2015, a system that used an algorithm to “visualise data representations of neural networks”, the AI-artist outbreak was let loose. Generative, or algorithmic art, was soon a runaway revolution. It showcased art that has, at least in part, been created by an autonomous (such as an AI-based) system. This means a system that has independently determined aspects of an artwork that would otherwise have required an artist’s intervention. The exhibition did also raise certain questions regarding whether AI-art could possibly be the art revolution of the 21st century.

Researchers – and artists – at Rutgers University today are using an approach called the Creative Adversarial Network – or CAN. It swaps the part of the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) that pursues similarity and introduces novelty instead. This is starkly different from the other forms of AI-rendering that have already found abundant usage in the fields of chemistry, mechanics, robotics, mathematics and data mapping, among multiple others. AI artists at the University are using a form of AI that analyses thousands of images to develop a specified ‘style’ – and then autonomously generates a new image.

In South Korea, an AI-powered graphic tool start-up firm named Pulse 9 is organising a competition in which entrants are expected to send in their AI-modded art pieces for the setting up of an art gallery. This could potentially be the starting point of a major AI-powered industry in Asia, as AI-modded art forms continue to expand beyond genres and styles. Though some controversy regarding originality and authorship may arise, the primary aim of the gallery is to promote AI-human collaboration in art.

Make no mistake: AI holds the capability to not only influence the arts but change it forever. AI today can create music, videos or even write whole movie scripts. The integration of machine learning and AI into art is bound to radically alter traditional art perception in ways we can only imagine. Or, perhaps there will be an AI script for that too!

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